Swift Wing Secrets

Swift wing secrets revealed, according to reports in ScienceNOW and news@nature 25 April 2007. Swifts are small, migratory birds that spend most of their lives in the air. They can eat, mate and sleep whilst flying, changing, or “morphing” their wing shape according to the speed and agility required. A group of scientists led by […]

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Sticking a Frog Foot on It

Sticking a frog foot on it, described in ABC News in Science, 12 October 2007. Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur have developed a reusable adhesive tape inspired by frog feet. Conventional sticky tapes are not reusable because they crack when removed from one surface, and they collect dust and other particles and […]

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Spring Winged Aircraft

Spring winged aircraft described in ScienceNOW, 19 January 2005. Insects use two layers of muscle to flap their wings – as each layer contracts it stretches the other, which then contracts whilst the other layer relaxes and gets stretched ready for the next cycle. This process occurs too quickly to be controlled by nerve impulses, […]

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Spring Powered Ostriches Beat Humans

Spring powered ostriches beat humans according to articles in ABC News in Science 27 October 2010 and BBC Earth News 28 October 2010. A team of researchers led by Jonas Rubenson, of the School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, University of Western Australia have compared how humans and ostriches run to see how much […]

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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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