Whale Shark

Seaweed Eating Shark Surprise

The whale shark is the world’s biggest fish, growing up to 18 metres (59ft) long, but it is not a fierce predator.  It is a filter feeder that cruises the ocean scooping up krill and small fish.  Scientists at Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) studying the diet of whale sharks living around Ningaloo Reef […]

Read More
Panda Eating Bamboo

Oldest Panda Thumb Fossil

The giant panda is well known for eating bamboo and having an extra “thumb” to help it hold onto and manipulate the bamboo stems as it eats them.  The “thumb” is not an extra digit, but a protrusion resulting from an enlarged wrist bone called a radial sesamoid.  A group of scientists from various USA […]

Read More
Shark Teeth

Shark Toothache

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences have studied a deformed tooth from the extinct giant shark Otodus megalodon (used to be Carcharodon megalodon)and compared it with similarly deformed teeth from a shark named Carcharhinus leucas, which still lives today. The teeth all show a “double tooth pathology” […]

Read More
Trigona bee

Vulture Bees Lost and Gained Microbes

Almost all bees get their nutrients from flowers. Pollen provides protein and nectar provides carbohydrates. A group of scientists have found three closely related bees of the genus Trigona that feed off dead flesh, rather than flowers. These “vulture bees” get their protein by chewing pieces of flesh from dead animals and gain additional carbohydrates […]

Read More
Macadamia Nuts

Why Are Nuts Hard to Crack?

Why are nuts hard to crack? This question is answered in reports in Science (AAAS) News, 10 August 2021, Royal Society Open Science 11 August 2021, doi: 10.1098/rsos.210399 and Advanced Materials 20 October 2020, 10.1002/adma.202004519. Over the last few years Notburga Gierlinger, a biophysicist at University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, and colleagues […]

Read More
Seahorse

Seahorse Suction Power

Seahorse suction power revealed in reports in Inside JEB 3 September 2021 and Journal of Experimental Biology 3 September 2021, doi: 10.1242/jeb.236430. Seahorses use suction feeding to draw food in which involves a rapid expansion of their mouth cavity to force food into the mouth. Other kinds of ‘sucking’ fish use their swimming muscles to […]

Read More
Panda Eating

Panda Jaw Evolved for Bamboo

Panda jaw evolved for bamboo, according reports in ScienceDaily and University of Turku (UTU) Press Release 9 July 2021 and Scientific Reports, 9 July 2021, doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-93808-2. When pandas eat bamboo stems they first use their premolar teeth to peel off the outer layer which contains harmful chemicals and abrasive crystals. Then they grind up […]

Read More

Snakes Adapted Fangs to Food

Snakes adapted fangs to food, according to articles in The Conversation 13 May 2021 and Monash University Lens 21 May 2021 and Evolution 27 April 2021 doi: 10.1111/evo.14239.  Scientists at Monash University, Australia, have studied the fangs of 81 species of snakes, comparing tooth structure, strength and sharpness with the type of prey each snake […]

Read More
Iridescent Insect

Iridescent Camouflage

Iridescent camouflage found, according to reports in Science (AAAS) News, ScienceDaily, Telegraph (UK) 23 January 2020 and Current Biology 23 January 2020, doi: 10. 1016/j.cub.2019.12.013.  Iridescence is the bright, variable colour created by light being refracted in surface structures, e.g. peacock feathers and some butterfly wings.  It produces bright clear colours, so most evolutionary biologists […]

Read More
Mosquito on Flower

Mosquitoes Analyse Flower Chemistry

Mosquitoes analyse flower chemistry, according to reports in ScienceDaily 22 January 2020 and The Daily University of Washington 6 February 2020 and PNAS 7 January 2020, doi:10.1073/pnas.1910589117.  Although mosquitoes have a well-earned reputation for biting people and sucking blood, their main food source is flower nectar.  As explained by Jeffrey Riffell, a professor of biology […]

Read More