Speech Timing Revealed

Speech timing revealed, as reported in Nature News 20 February 2013 and ABC News in Science 21 February 2013. Edward Chang and colleagues from the University of California San Francisco have carried out a study of brain activity during speech. They were able to record directly from the surface of the brains of patients who […]

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Snake Slithering Explained

Snake slithering explained in articles in ScienceNOW 8 June 2009 and BBC News 9 June 2009. Snakes can propel themselves forward by pushing against objects in their path such as rocks and twigs, but they can also move along smooth surfaces using a slithering movement, known scientifically as “lateral undulation” because it leaves an S-shaped […]

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Size Matters for Geckos and Flies

Size matters for geckos’ and flies’ glue pads, as described in New Scientist, 6 September 2003, p22. Geckos, flies and some spiders are able to walk upside down by using tiny flat pads on their feet called spatulae. The spatulae form temporary atomic bonds with what ever surface they are walking on. Biologists were puzzled […]

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Senseless Sinuses

Senseless sinuses, according to Richard Dawkins: “Another consequence of our own shift from quadruped to biped concerns the sinuses, which give grief to any of us because their drainage hole is in the very last place a sensible designer would have chosen.” He then quotes Australian science broadcaster Robyn Williams quoting Professor Derek Denton: “The […]

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Self-Planting Seeds

Secrets of self-planting seeds revealed, as described in the Journal of Experimental Biology, doi: 10.1242/jeb.055673, published online 26 January 2011. A plant named Common Storksbill, a member of the geranium family with the scientific name Erodium cicutarium has a most efficient way of propagating itself. Its seeds are forcibly launched into the air, rather than […]

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Seed Capsule Origami

Seed capsule origami described in ScienceDaily 18 July and Nature Communications doi:10.1038/ncomms1336, 7 June 2011. The seed pods of the ice plant Delosperma nakurense consist of five triangular sections, which are tightly sealed in dry conditions, but open in moist conditions. This ensures the seeds are released in the best conditions for germination. Scientists at […]

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Secret of Cicada Sound

Secret of cicada sound revealed, according to reports in ScienceDaily 30 May 2013 and ScienceNOW 4 June 2013. Anyone who lives in a region where cicadas emerge en masse in early summer knows what an ear-splitting din they can make. A team of U.S. Naval researchers has been investigating how such a small creature can […]

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Seahorse Shape Explained

Seahorse shape explained, (theoretically, that is) claim scientists in Nature Communications DOI: doi:10.1038/ncomms1168 25 January 2011, and BBC Earth News 26 January 2011. Sam Van Wassenbergh from the University of Antwerp in Belgium and colleagues have used high speed photography and mathematical modelling to determine how far a seahorse can reach out to capture prey. […]

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Science Copies Beetle Sprayer

Science copies beetle sprayer writes Thomas F. Heinze: “Remember the bombardier beetle, famous for firing hot toxic fluid at its enemies through a squirter in its bottom? Science News informs us that this beetle: “is inspiring designers of engines, drug-delivery devices and fire extinguishers to improve spray technologies. It could also provide a much more […]

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Running with Vampires

Running with vampires, described in news@nature 16 March 2005. Bats are good at flying, but with their large wings and small legs, most bats can only manage an awkward crawl if they are on the ground. However, a recent study of vampire bats shows they are good runners, with a unique style not seen in […]

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