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Turtles Hurtle Through the Sea Magnetically

Experiments on sea turtles have shown that they follow the earth’s magnetic field to the exact beach where they were born to lay their eggs.  “It is almost as if they were equipped with a compass pointing towards the beach in question,” says an article on EurekAlert.  “So they can correct any deflection they are […]

The Moth in Spider’s Clothing

National Geographic News has a picture story about a moth that mimics a jumping spider.  It appears to work.  Scientists staged a battle royale between contestants of mimics and non-mimics in the ring with their jumping spider enemies, and the mimics won hands down.  The spiders went for the normal moths 62% of the time, […]

Submarine, Make Like a Fish

Submarine designers are learning a thing or two from fish.  The latest fish trick to imitate is the lateral line: a row of specialized sensors fish have along their flanks.  Fish use these for synchronized swimming and predator avoidance.  EurekAlert reported on work by scientists at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne to build artificial lateral […]

Fossil Fish Meat Pushes Idea of Early Complexity

An article in National Geographic News today has a title to catch the eye (or nose) of seafood lovers: “Fossil Meat Found in 380-Million-Year-Old Fish.”  Knowing how quickly fish spoils if left out, this might strike a reader as surprising.  Sure enough, fossilized muscle, with “bundles of muscle cells, blood vessels, and nerve cells” clearly […]

Cell Quality Control Runs a Tight Ship

Without the surveillance and rapid response of quality control, cells would collapse and die.  Here are some recently-published examples of nanoheroes in action. Plant checkpoints:  Picture a child watching the wonder of a seedling breaking through the soil into the light for the first time.  Within hours, the ghostly-white stem turns green, and a day […]

Squid Eye Beats Zeiss

A squid whose scientific name means “vampire from hell” wears specs with excellent specs (that’s lenses with excellent specifications, for the pun-challenged).  Elisabeth Pennisi in Science reported on a talk given at an Arizona science conference about the vampire squid, whose “lenses are designed for seeing details, even in virtual darkness.”  Researchers studying cephalopod eyes […]

Robot Legs Can’t Keep Up With Animals

Robot designers are envious of animals.  Insects, crabs and lizards leave them in the dust.  Alison Abbott in Nature (Jan 18) described the latest attempts to get the bugs out of insect-imitating “biological robots.”1  “Programming a robot to think like an insect is tough,” the subtitle reads, “but it could help breed machines as manoeuvrable […]

Tiny Fish Smell for Miles

Fish hatchlings no more than a few millimeters in size are able to find their way home by smell, scientists from James Cook University found.  After hatching from a reef, baby fish are often swept out to sea for miles.  The scientists were curious how they are able to get back to the particular spot […]

This Bug Is Whiter than White, Brighter than Bright

Detergent manufacturers should get a load of this beetle.  Cyphochilus, a resident of southeast Asia, is clothed in one of the brightest white surfaces (per unit thickness) known.  British scientists reporting in Science1  were intrigued how the bug accomplishes this shining performance.  Most bright-white surfaces, such as paint and paper, need a hundred times the […]

Are Evolutionists Converging on a Story of Vertebrates?

Here’s what the Linnean Society said in 1909, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Darwin’s Origin of Species, about the rise of vertebrates (fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals): “When we return home and our friends gleefully enquire, ‘What then has been decided as to the Origin of Vertebrates?’, so far we seem to have no reply […]

Amphibious Assault Against Gradualism

A State of the Salamander Address was printed in PNAS recently.1  An international group of scientists looked for evolutionary ancestry and “Global patterns of diversification in the history of modern amphibians.”  It would seem Mr. Darwin has a bit of frog in his throat: The fossil record of modern amphibians (frogs, salamanders, and caecilians) provides […]

Woodpecker Heads Absorb Shocks

Pounding a tree with your head 12,000 times a day would tend to give one a headache, but for woodpeckers, it’s all in a day’s work.  How do they manage?  Corey Binns on Live Science interviewed Ivan Schwab (UC Davis) who explained some of the specialized adaptations in a woodpecker head: thick muscles, spring-like bones, […]

Insects Pester Darwinian Story

It’s enough to bug any Darwinian: where did the insects come from?  Here are some problems right off the bat sonar: Insects are fantastically diverse. Insects are among the most successful animals. There are no insect fossils earlier than the Devonian (evolutionary date: 410 million years ago). The earliest segmented body plans appeared in the […]

Incredible Stasis in Evolution: What Does It Mean?

Quite often in phylogenetic research, evolutionists find examples of extreme conservation of genes or traits.  How they explain the lack of change is almost as interesting as the phenomenon itself.  Here are two recent examples. Your cousin the shark:  Surprise: you have more in common with horn sharks than bony fishes do.  Craig Venter’s international […]

Big Dino Found, But How Did it Eat?

A few interesting dinosaur stories came to light this month. I was a Spanish monster:  A new giant sauropod has been found in Spain, reported EurekAlert based on a paper in Science.1  Named Turiasaurus riodevensis by the discoverers, it ranks among the largest of dinosaurs and is the first giant sauropod found in Europe, weighing […]
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