A beautiful illustration of a plant cell by Russell Kightley
From: a biology nerd and friends.
Velvet Worm - Slime Guns
The velvet worm - among the phylum, Onychophora - hunts by shooting fast drying adhesive at its prey and yes, I know what you’re thinking. The segmented worm-like organism can range from 0.5 to 20cm long and slime glands are located in the center region of the body making up about 11% of the total body weight in slime which is made mostly of water and some proteins.
In order to detect prey it senses slight changes in air currents with bumps on its skin and chemical sensors on its antennae to let them essentially taste something to determine if its food. When a prey item is eventually encountered, the slime is forcefully squirted through oral papillae near the head and launched up to 30cm in a sort of spray-and-pray manner. Once the slime contacts the victim, it quickly dries ensnaring it, where now the worm then seeks to eat the organism by injecting its saliva and digestive enzymes turning the innards into a slurpee. Mmm delicious.
The velvet worm are primarily nocturnal ambush predators and their senses and locomotion allow them to hunt. They move silently and fluidly with pneumatically inflated sets of valves to inflate/deflate their legs, meaning they don’t really rely on muscles for movement and is why it looks so cool as they glide along the ground. Another awesome thing about them is they have a tubular heart that extends almost the entire length of the body creating an open circulatory system.
Here is a diagram of the velvet worm anatomy
The Year of the Anglerfish.
I predict that anglerfish will gain in popularity in 2013. This AWESOME youtube video already has 5 million views, and only had 3 the last time I checked a few days ago…
In 2009, Hank Green uploaded a song about anglerfish, and I believe that is where I first learned about the biological anomaly of sexual parasitism in anglerfish (clarification from the ze frank video: only a few deep sea anglerfish species exhibit sexual parasitism, not all the ones shown in the video).
You guys, SEXUAL PARASITISM IS SO COOL. Superficially, it’s interesting because you can anthropomorphize the issue into ‘haha these men are utterly useless and the female anglerfish is this big ugly alpha female’.
BUT aside from that, anglerfish are extremely interesting because no other species does this. No other species has developed this strategy to deal with the empty loneliness of the deep sea.
Also thinking about the evolutionary steps necessary to get there is an exercise in mind-bending. Luckily, looking at current species help us here- aside from the handful of species that exhibit pure sexual parasitism, some exhibit partial parasitism where sometimes the males attach but don’t dissolve, or else attach briefly to mate and then swim away. From there, the smattering of steps needed to create the need for male parasitism is somewhat understandable.
Still, there are a lot of interesting questions to ask about this situation- for example, how does the female’s immune system get bypassed by the male? The blood of fish is not quite as intense as the blood of mammals, but presumably there are some form of antibody-detecting mechanisms to keep fish from getting sick, so how do they get bypassed when the male and female’s circulatory systems fuse?
I don’t know if these questions are answered; they weren’t when I wrote a research paper on them a few years ago, but the awesome thing about biology is that research is always going on and there are always new things to discover! And who knows, maybe with its newfound popularity the anglerfish will become a hot topic in science.
So I started a personal biology blog..
Ant Mills (Ant Death Spirals)
An ant mill is an observed phenomenon in which a group of army ants (or similar species) separated from the main foraging party lose the pheromone track and begin to follow one another, forming a continuously rotating circle. The ants will eventually die of exhaustion. This has been reproduced in laboratories and the behaviour has also been produced in ant colony simulations.
This phenomenon is a side effect of the self-organizing structure of ant colonies. Each ant follows the ant in front of it, and this will work until something goes wrong and an ant mill forms. An ant mill was first described by William Beebe in 1921 who observed a mill 1,200 feet (365 m) in circumference. It took each ant 2.5 hours to make one revolution. Similar phenomena have been noted in processionary caterpillars and fish. (via: Wikipedia)
see videos: http://io9.com/5895435/how-to-create-an-ant-spiral-of-death
I know there are a lot of shitty sites out there claiming to be free and offering education for all but this is the real deal, guys. The following quote is taken directly from the website. Please signal boost this to give as many people access as possible! The more people enroll and participate, the bigger this site will get!
“We are a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. We envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. Our technology enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students.
Through this, we hope to give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available only to a select few. We want to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.”
“it’s so big.” - she
The eyes of giant and colossal deep-sea squid are 27 cm (10.6 inches) in diameter. Modeling suggests that the huge eyes are uniquely suited for spotting sperm whales,” said the research team.
Squid can regenerate body parts, and many marine animals can regenerate their eyes, so I can only hope that the one who lost this eye is still in the water of the living and will soon have a new eye.
Also see these vintage illustrations envisioning the body as a machine.