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It’s Not a Bird, It’s a Plane

Look to the birds of the air, and they will teach you aeronautics.  That’s what designers of the Robo-Swift did.  PhysOrg reported about a new plane that imitates a swift thing on the wing: RoboSwift is a micro airplane fitted with shape shifting wings, inspired by the common swift, one of nature’s most efficient flyers.  […]

Mosquitos Are Water-Walking Champions

We hate ’em, but in one sense we should admire them: mosquitos are the water-walking champions of the animal kingdom.  They even beat out water striders, reported Live Science and EurekAlert based on research from Physical Review E.  Science Daily wrote of “miraculous mosquito legs” and had a picture of the intricate fan-shaped superhydrophobic structures […]

Roadrunner and Largest Flying Bird Described from Fossils

A bird with a 23-foot wingspan was described in the BBC News.  At an estimated 155 pounds, this bird probably had to jump from a height to get airborne and likely rode on thermals.  The article says the bird rivalled in size some light airplanes.  A diagram shows the Argentinean giant with wings upwardly stretched […]

But Is It Evolution?

Every week the news media cheerfully present the latest finding that is claimed to be evidence for evolution.  The following recent examples, though, might leave a perceptive reader wondering, “What’s Darwin got to do with it?” Slow? No!:  If you thought evolution was a gradual process too slow to watch, get a load of this: […]

Baby Frozen Mammoth Found Intact

The BBC News has a picture of a baby frozen mammoth that was found intact in northwest Siberia.  The article says it is one of the best-preserved frozen mammoths ever found, complete with eyes, fur, and trunk.  One investigator said, “In terms of its state of preservation, this is the world’s most valuable discovery” of […]

Elephant Trunk Inspires Robot Arm

A German company took inspiration from the soft, supple, yet powerful trunk of the elephant and built an arm to imitate it.  Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a company engaged in “research of practical utility,” rhapsodized on the abilities of the elephant trunk: It is long, gray, soft and – endowed with no fewer than 40,000 muscles – extremely […]

What Are Human Genes Doing in a Sea Anemone?

The genome of a sea anemone has been published, and of all things, this lowly animal has genes common to vertebrates, even humans.  Science Daily began with a conundrum, “The first analysis of the genome of the sea anemone shows it to be nearly as complex as the human genome, providing major insights into the […]

Mother-of-Pearl Inspires Materials Science

It’s not only beautiful, it’s strong.  EurekAlert described how scientists are intrigued by mother-of-pearl, also called nacre, because of its strength: you can drive a truck over it and it will not break.  It is 3,000 times more resistant to fracture than the aragonite from which the oyster makes it.  95% of it self-assembles in […]

Chimp Altruism: Is it All True?

Humans are the only inhabitants of earth that are masters of true altruism: helping others with no thought of reward.  Previous experiments had shown that chimpanzees lack this trait.  Given an opportunity to help another chimp get a banana, they showed no pattern of charity.  New experiments by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for […]

Giant Fossil Penguins Lived in Warm Waters

“Giant prehistoric penguins?  In Peru?” puzzled a reporter on Science Daily.  “It sounds more like something out of Hollywood than science,” but a fossil penguin you could look eye to eye with has been found that far north.  “We tend to think of penguins as being cold-adapted species,” said one of the discoverers,” but not […]

Crisis at Both Ends of Darwin’s Tree

Two assumptions about evolution – one about the earliest multicellular organisms and one about the rise of mammals – have run into trouble.  Eukarya sans Mechanista:  “In the absence of direct evidence, science should proceed cautiously with conjecture,” wisely advised Anthony Poole and David Penny in Nature.1  They scorned the researchers who glibly invent fables […]

Imaginary Dinosaur Feathers Found – Again!

Last year, we reported that imaginary feathers had been found on a dinosaur fossil (see 02/08/2006).  Now, more imaginary feathers have turned up.  This turkey was big, too: the dinosaur plumed in the imaginary feathers stood almost 12 feet tall.  Everyone’s talking about it: Fox News, MSNBC News and Science News among others.  National Geographic […]

Ma Lizards Dress Their Young

Leapin’ lizards: the side-blotched lizards of the American southwest are able to dress their kids in the latest scale fashions.  A press release from UC Santa Cruz shows that hormones from mom can dramatically affect the pattern and coloration of offspring.  The scientists observing this phenomenon think it has something to do with matching their […]

Why Do Some Fruit Bats Have Color Vision?

One would think bats don’t need color, since most fly at night.  That’s what scientists thought, reported Max Planck Institute, until color-vision cones were found in some species.  Some species have two cone types, giving them bichromatic vision, and some have only one, making them effectively color blind.     Bats come in two orders: […]

Video Clip:  The Rich Little Bird

A popular video clip has been circulating around the internet for over a year.  It shows an Australian lyre bird imitating other birds and man-made sounds.  Click here to watch the 3.5 minute performance.  Narrated by David Attenborough, it was voted the #1 most popular Attenborough moment from the naturalist’s TV shows. Speaks for itself.  […]
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