Monday, 9 July 2012

Wildlife stuff from the week 2-8/7/12

[video] Mourning cuttlefish (that's their name) have been observed mimicking females, on one side of their body, to fool rival males while copulating with females!
"The researchers say the deceptive ploy by the male cuttlefish is yet another instance of intelligence and that the males are smart enough to employ the technique only when it has a fair chance of working. Thus, if more than two males (or multiple females) are around, they don’t even bother. The fact that the behavior is so directed indicates the cuttlefish are aware of what they are doing, which shows that some sort of thinking is going on. Being cephalopods, cuttlefish are members of one the smartest groups of creatures that live under the sea, with bigger brains relative to body size than any other invertebrate. They’re also very social. Some have been seen to bond with schools of fish when separated from their own kind."
A newly-discovered species of phorid fly, found in Thailand, is the smallest ever discovered, at 0.4 millimetres - 15 times smaller than a house fly and 5 times smaller than a fruit fly.
But the really ewww-y thing about them, is that they lay their eggs in ants, and when the larvae feed, they move to the head, resulting in decapitation of the host!
Take that, benevolent-deity-theism! As if the ichneumon wasp, and, y'know... predation and disease... weren't enough!

It's looking more and more likely that theropod dinosaurs had feathers.
Fossils marking animals all the way through the family tree of theropod dinosaurs bear the hallmarks of feathers, suggesting that featheryness was an intrinsic feature of theropod dinosaurs.

Climatic changes around the North Sea have favoured black backed gulls, by favouring the swimming crabs that they prey on:

Mosquitoes have an excellent sense of smell, which the females use to detect nonanal - the smell emitted by humans - in order to locate sources of blood, which female mosquitoes need in order to grow eggs.

Pakistan's 'national' animal (whatever that's supposed to mean) - the markhor - which has extraordinary, helical horns - is making a comeback, thanks to conservationists.
Numbers dropped to double figures, in the 90s, but have recovered to ~1500.

On top of egg-poaching, and accidentally catching juveniles when fishing, rising beach temperatures are exacerbating the woes of leatherback turtle poulations.
Evidence has already shown that turtle populations fluctuate according to yer-on-year climatic changes, and according to the Southern Oscillation, so it is more-or-less certain that rising temperatures, across decades, will push this already-critical species further towards the brink of existence.

It might seem like male praying mantises sacrifice their heads for the good of their offspring - but they don't do it lightly!
When given covering wind, to distract their female counterparts, they are more likely to dive in 'for the kill' (an unfortunate turn of phrase!)

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