Archive for the 'Animalia' category

Bumble Porn

No, not photos of a former Lancs and England batsman in "interesting" poses. No, it's some photos I took in the car park on the Riedberg campus this morning.

Two bumble bees having sex in the car park

This is the money shot

Front view of a bumble pair at it

I'm not a bee expert, so if anyone can tell me the species (the location is Frankfurt, Germany) or anything else interesting, please do.

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Salmon, scent and going home again

Dead salmon in spawning season, Oregon state (U.S. Pacific Northwest).

Image: Pete Forsyth, 9 November 2007.
This image is licensed under a creative commons license.

This post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for ResearchBlogging.org

On a cool autumn afternoon, I stepped out of my friend's house and witnessed a phenomenon of nature I had never seen before. In a stream flowing through the back yard, I saw the bodies of spawning coho salmon, Oncorhynchus kisutch, gleaming blood-red in the bright sunlight. These fish battered themselves mercilessly against the stream bed, digging shallow nests in the gravel where they were depositing their eggs. Against enormous odds, they had survived the rigors of ocean life, and had returned to their birthplace to spawn.

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The Bull That Didn't Know the Rules

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Yesterday morning while I was in the gym, I saw this footage over and over and over again on the national news. Even with my language barrier, it's not difficult to figure out what was happening nor what the eventual outcome would be.
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Kitchen Science: Are Spiders Repelled by Conkers?

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This sweet video depicts a series of experiments conducted by a classroom of kids at Roselyon School in Cornwall. In short, they are testing an old wives' tale that suggests that placing conkers -- horse chestnuts -- along skirting boards or at the edges of doorways might deter spiders from entering a building. But does this actually work, and if so, how? The modern scientific brain might wonder whether some chemical odor released by the fruit of the horse chestnut tree or perhaps the waxy glossiness of the kids favorite autumnal twine-suspended weapon sends the arachnids scuttling back to whence they came.
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TEDTalks: Carl Safina: The Oil Spill's Unseen Culprits, Victims

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The Gulf oil spill dwarfs comprehension, but we know this much: it's bad. Carl Safina scrapes out the facts in this blood-boiling cross-examination, arguing that the consequences will stretch far beyond the Gulf -- and many so-called solutions are making the situation worse.

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Paul the Prognosticating Octopus Oracle Sez ...

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Paul the Prognosticating Octopus Oracle has disappointed his German fans by choosing Spain over Germany in tomorrow's World Cup Football match. Paul is a two-year-old English-born octopus of unknown species who has lived in the aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany since shortly after he was born.
Image: Mark Keppler / DAPD

This is a bummer for all those German fans who believe in tooth fairies and Santa Claus, because Paul the Prognosticating Octopus Oracle of Unknown Species (PPOOUS) has made another prediction for the outcome of tomorrow's World Cup football match of Germany versus Spain -- he chose SPAIN to win. (teh H0rr0rz!)

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Close Encounter with a Whale Shark in the Gulf of Mexico

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Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus, feeding in the Gulf of Mexico.
Image: Gulf Coast Research Laboratory Whale Shark Research.

Despite being the largest fish species in the world, measuring over 40 feet in length and 35 tons in weight, whale sharks are quite mysterious. We know they are plankton filter feeders, and we recently learned that we can identify individuals by the pattern of dots and bars on their bodies, but otherwise, we know very little about these animals. For example, in just 1996, we learned that these sharks are ovoviviparous (their young grow in egg sacs inside the body but are born live) after capturing a female pregnant with 300 pups. But we still know almost nothing about them, including their population size. So to learn more about them, researchers are attaching satellite tags to whale sharks and taking a tiny tissue sample for DNA work. This video shows this process as it occurred with one whale shark feeding at the surface of the water in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Of Venom and Silk

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Spider biologist Norman Platnick, from the American Museum of Natural History, has traveled the world cataloguing some of these creatures, many for the first time ever. World renowned for his work, he hopes to find as many as species as possible before some disappear.

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Evolution in Action by AMNH

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This video tells the story of speciation in Central Africa's roiling, rapid Lower Congo River. This river is home to an extraordinary assortment of fish -- many truly bizarre. This new video by Science Bulletins, the American Museum of Natural History's current-science video program, features Museum scientists on a quest to understand why so many species have evolved here. Follow Curator of Ichthyology Melanie Stiassny and her team as they search the Lower Congo River's mysterious depths for an evolutionary driver.

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Inside the Collections: Ichthyology at AMNH

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This video is the first of a new series of behind-the-scenes looks at the collections at the American Museum of Natural History. In this video, Melanie Stiassny, Axelrod Research Curator in the Department of Ichthyology, takes us through the Museum's vast collection of fishes.

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