Humans Versus Snails in Value

Humans versus snails in value.  The Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods at Charles Darwin University, Australia conducted an online survey of 2,139 Australians about what they would give priority to saving from destruction in a bushfire (wildfire).  Participants were asked to choose from a list of 11 options, including people, animals, plants and […]

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Crustacean Silk Evolved Six Times

Crustacean silk evolved six times, claim scientists.  Silk is a protein fibre, best known for being produced by silkworms (larvae of moths).  Other insects including bees and flies also make silk.  Less well-known silk producers include tiny water dwelling shrimp like crustaceans called amphipods. Two scientists from University of Santa Barbara (USA) carried out a survey […]

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Wheat Crop

Earthworm Bounty Calculated

Earthworm bounty calculated by scientists who correlated a global atlas of earthworm abundance with maps of agricultural production, taking into account soil properties and artificial fertilisers. They concluded: “Our findings indicate that earthworms contribute to roughly 6.5% of global grain (maize, rice, wheat, barley) production and 2.3% of legume production, equivalent to over 140 million […]

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Octopuses’ Guide to Punching Fish

Yes, octopuses have been observed to punch fish with great accuracy, so a group of scientists have studied the biomechanics of how they do this.  They found a well-coordinated set of movements involving sending abend down the arms closest to the fish, then rotating the arms outwards while using the other arms to grip rocks […]

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Ammonite fossil embedded in rock

Archaeopteryx and Ammonite

In 2018 scientists from Germany and Switzerland published a detailed description of an Archaeopteryx specimen they claimed to be the oldest Archaeopteryx.  One reasons they claim this record is that the specimen was buried alongside an ammonite – an extinct spiral-shelled sea creature similar to a nautilus. Reference: Rauhut et al. (2018), The oldest Archaeopteryx […]

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Welsh countryside

A Treasure Trove of Welsh Fossils

Palaeontologists in Wales have found a deposit very well preserved fossils described as “a highly diverse Middle Ordovician Burgess Shale-type fauna”. The fossil deposit is dated as 462 million years, over 20 million years after the Cambrian period in the evolutionary timetable.  The fossils include some well-known Cambrian creatures that are now extinct, as well […]

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Oldest Fossil Brain

An international team of scientists have studied the fossil of a lobopodian, a small extinct arthropod with a segmented trunk and multiple short stubby legs.  The fossil has been named Cardiodictyon catenulum and is dated as 525 million years old.  Using sophisticated scanning techniques the researchers were able to identify the creature’s brain.  Nicholas Strausfeld […]

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Great Barrier Reef

Barrier Reef ‘Re-Cover Up’

A survey of the Great Barrier Reef by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has found the northern and central reef regions have the highest coral cover seen since the regular surveys began 36 years ago. The Great Barrier reef is not one single reef but a large series of reefs along the coast […]

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Red Algae

Pollination in the Sea

A group of European researchers have studied a seaweed named Gracilaria gracilis that grows in the tidepools around Europe.  This seaweed is in a class of red algae known as Florideophyceae, and has separate male and female forms.  Unlike many marine organisms the females do not release their eggs into the water to be fertilised, […]

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Trilobite Eyes Inspire Bifocal Lenses

Researchers from China and the USA have studied the eyes of a trilobite named Dalmanitina socialis.  These creatures had ‘bifocal’ eyes consisting of two lenses that bent light at different angles, enabling them to see both close up and far away objects at the same time. The researchers were “inspired by the optical structure of […]

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