The science fiction of Star Trek has been inspiring scientists for generations in ways big and small. As mentioned in the opening credits of both the original series and The Next Generation, one focus for the ships in Star Trek‘s Federation is “to seek out new life,” which can be easily done thanks to technology capable of remotely scanning an area for life forms. Scientists have now made steps toward recreating that technology in the form of a specialized camera called a TreePol spectropolarimeter.
All living organisms have what are known as chiral molecules, which can reflect, refract, or diffract light. The TreePol spectropolarimeter has lenses and receptors able to detect rotating light reflected by plants. TreePol is specifically designed to detect circularly polarized light, a type of electromagnetic wave that rotates either clockwise or counterclockwise, reflected from foliage.
The ecological benefits of animals like leeches, ticks and vampire bats are the focus of a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum
In a sprawling gallery of the Royal Ontario Museum, curators and technicians crowded around two large coolers that had recently arrived at the Toronto institution. Wriggling inside the containers were live sea lampreys, eel-like creatures that feed by clamping onto the bodies of other fish, puncturing through their skin with tooth-lined tongues, and sucking out their victims’ blood and bodily fluids. Staff members, their hands protected with gloves, carefully lifted one of the lampreys and plopped it into a tall tank. It slithered through the water, tapping on the glass walls with its gaping mouth, rings of fearsome teeth on full view.
Golden lion tamarins live in the rapidly diminishing Atlantic Forest, a richly biodiverse region
that stretches down through Brazil and into Argentina and Paraguay. The Reserva Biológica
Poço das Antas, a 28,000-acre (11,331-hectare) forest reserve near Rio de Janeiro, protects the
golden lion tamarin’s habitat.
Golden Lion Tamarin is a mammal that traditionally inhabits lowland tropical forest. It has a hair covering and is able to speed up to 40km/h (24mph). Golden Lion Tamarin (leontopithecus rosalia) usually is 20-33.5cm (13.2-8in) and weights 550-700g (19-25oz). The animal lives 8-15 years in a troop lifestyle. Eats mostly: fruit, insects, small mammals, small reptiles
JUST LOOK AT THE EXPRESSION ON MY FACE & LOOK INTO MY EYES &YOU SEE WHAT..??
Once upon a time, animals were absolutely enormous. As humans and other predators began to roam the earth, animals began to decrease from their once colossal sizes. Nowadays, you can find giant animals mostly on islands, where animals live in isolation from humans and their impact. They are able to grow to their full size thanks to a lack of predators and because they have greater access to more resources, like food and water. While you would expect animals this big to eat a lot of food, many of them actually eat the same amount of food as their regular size counterparts. Dinosaurs may no longer be in existence, but there are still some modern-day monsters, say you will, that are roaming our earth.
KANGAROOS are known for their fighting skills but one Queensland family knows all too well the calculation behind some of their moves.
The Bulmer family from Kywong Station, south of Julia Creek in mid-northern Queensland, lost their beloved dog Banjo last week after it was believed to have been drowned by a kangaroo.
Banjo, a Rhodesian ridgeback-cross, and their other dog, a foxy called Pepe, chased the kangaroo. It led them to a dam where it is believed to have waited in waist-deep water for Banjo to swim to before grabbing the dog and holding him under water until Banjo drowned.
A quintessentially Australian photo which could only have come from WA’s Kimberley has gone viral, as social media across the world marvelled at a python playing pick-up to a bunch of amorous cane toads.
Helicopter pilot Paul Mock snapped the photo of the olive python — named Monty, of course — onboard was a contingent of cane toads on its back in the wake of an inundation of 68mm rain at his Kununurra WA property on Monday.
Mr Mock doesn’t have social media but decided to send the picture on to his brother Andrew, who quickly uploaded it to Twitter where it caused a storm.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Someone should tell that to the Pisonia tree, a ruthless plant that kills birds just for the heck of it. You may be asking, “Why?” Well, the tree should respond, “Why not?”
Oh Murder Tree, Oh Murder Tree!
If you didn’t think a plant — a tree, no less — could be a jerk, think again. Found in the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans, the Pisonia tree fits the bill as one of the most unnecessarily cruel plants in the planet. While it’s not uncommon for plants to have built-in defense mechanisms, those things are usually there to keep the plant safe from preditors. But scientists have yet to uncover any benefit the Pisonia tree could possibly receive for luring birds in only just to murder them.
Here’s what happens at the crime scene: the Pisonia tree produces sticky seedpods that trap insects, luring in hungry birds with the promise of an easy lunch. These seedpods are so sticky that they’ll latch onto any bird that flies into them, either trapping it in the tree’s branches or weighing the bird down stosuch a extent that it’s completely unable to fly. As a result, you’ll see a blanket of bird carcasses littering the roots of the Pisonia tree. There are sometimes even mummified bird corpses up in the branches that look like, as Washington Post describes them, “macabre Christmas tree ornaments.”
Ecologist Alan Burger at the University of Victoria first heard of the Pisonia in the 1990s and went to the archipelago of Seychelles in the Indian Ocean to work out why these slaughterous trees seemed to kill just for the hell of it. Until then, no one had looked too hard into the Pisonia tree, but there were two main theories as to why they were bird-tormentors: either the tree’s roots got a nutrient bump from the dead birds, or the seeds attached to the dead birds because they required the corpse as fertilizer in order to grow. After 10 months of research with the Pisonia seeds, Burger published his findings in 2005.
The conclusion? Pisonia trees are just out & out ruthless. “The results from my experiments showed quite convincingly that the Pisonia derived no obvious benefit from fatally entangling birds,” writes Burger. But not only did dead birds not benefit the tree in any way, but the droppings of living birds would also help the trees survive by enriching the soil. It turns out, then, that killing birds isn’t necessarily the goal. Birds flying away from the tree with sticky seeds attached helps keep the tree species alive by spreading the seeds far and wide. It’s just one of those evolutionary whoopsies that the seeds sprout in clusters — heavy, self-sabotaging, bird-murdering clusters.