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Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:23 pm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1336799/Mormotomyia-Hirsuta-Africas-terrible-hairy-fly-Kenya-62-years.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

Where have you been all this time? Africa's flightless 'terrible hairy fly' found on remote Kenyan rock after 62-year search
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
Last updated at 12:18 PM on 9th December 2010

It went missing for 62 years, but now Africa's 'terrible hairy fly' has been discovered in remote caves in Kenya.

The insect, which does not have fully-formed wings and so is unable to fly, is one of the rarest creatures in the world.

Scientists first stumbled across the yellow-haired fly in 1933 and then again in 1948.

Since then, at least half a dozen expeditions have visited a site between the towns of Thika and Garissa to find it again.

At less than half-an-inch long and so far found on a single 65ft-high rock, the Mormotomyia hirsuta looks more like a spider with its hairy legs, scientists said.

Partial to breeding in bat faeces, the fly is thought to live only in the dank, bat-filled cleft of an isolated rock in the Ukazi Hills.

It also has non-functional wings that resemble miniature belt-straps, and tiny eyes.

Dr Robert Copeland of the Nairobi-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology said the fly's physical appearance had left scientists bamboozled about where exactly it belonged in the entire order of Diptera, or 'true flies'.
'We have collected fresh specimens for molecular analysis to see where exactly the "terrible hairy fly" fits into the evolutionary process,' said Dr. Copeland.

'The fly has no obvious adaptations for clinging onto other animals for transfer from one place to another.

'With its long legs, it could perhaps wrap itself around a bat and get a ride... but it's never been found elsewhere.'

The Mormotomyia hirsuta is the only member of its biological family and some fly experts reckon the fly will eventually prove to be the only family of fly completely restricted to Africa.


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(more pics at the link)

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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby Apache Chef » Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:40 pm

Gross.

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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:51 pm

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/10/27/3049266.htm

Assassin bugs lure arachnid snack
Wednesday, 27 October 2010 Carl Holm
ABC

Australian researchers have uncovered the sophisticated vibrating techniques used by the assassin bug to turn the tables on unsuspecting spiders.

The process, called aggressive mimicry, lures the spider within attacking range of the bug, immediately before turning it into a "spider milkshake".

Dr Anne Wignall and Associate Professor Phillip Taylor of Macquarie University in Sydney outline the spider-eating assassin bug's (Stenolemus bituberus) vibrating technique in a paper appearing today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

It follows on from their previous paper, which focussed on the assassin bug's behaviour.

"This paper takes a more experimental approach," Wignall says, "we know that they're attracting the spiders somehow, but how are they doing that, what mechanisms are they using? So we looked at the structure of the vibrations, and at the spiders responses."

Under controlled conditions, Wignall and Taylor introduced a variety of things into webs of spiders from the Acharaeanea genus. They monitored the different vibrations created by male spiders, leaves, and two common prey animals: fruit-flies and aphids.

Treading a fine line
They found that the vibratory signature that the assassin bugs created most closely resembled that of prey insects.

But the would-be assassins must enter the spider's domain, and they tread a fine line between eating and being eaten.

Wignall says that it wouldn't be in the bugs' interests to be exact mimics, and that the surprising thing was to see just how finely controlled the vibrations were.

"For mimicry to work it doesn't have to be exactly the same, it just has to work. So they're not mimicking signals like the impact when a fly first hits a web. That produces a really loud high frequency vibration," she says.

"They're also not mimicking things like a fly buzzing its wings, a really fast movement, really high amplitude, higher in pitch; that would elicit a highly aggressive approach from the spider. This is not what the bug wants."

Sucked in, sucked dry
It all comes down to how well they can control the spider's responses, to slowly bring it closer. Wignall says the hunt can last for hours as the bugs slowly and carefully manipulate a spider's reactions.

"The assassin bug moves very carefully onto the web and it begins plucking the silk with its forelegs," she says.

"If it's not getting a reaction from the spider it will move a little further onto the web, move around, pluck a little bit more. Once the spider begins approaching it will often stop signalling and the spider will approach very slowly because it's not getting signals any more. Then it will resume plucking."

"Once it's [within striking range], the assassin bug will tap the spider gently with its antennae once or twice as it moves into position over the body of the spider. Then it grabs the spider really quickly and tightly with its forelegs and stabs it with its mouthparts, like a reinforced modified sharp straw.

"Usually the spider stops struggling within a few seconds. Then the bug starts to suck out the insides, kind of like a spider milkshake."

Wignall says the next step in their research is to look at the spider's decision making process.

"We're not sure what the spider's actually latching onto to say that this is prey, so we're going to concentrate on how the spiders actually recognise different stimuli in the web."


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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby Wisdom000 » Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:16 pm

misac wrote:How can someone not like vampires? What's the matter with you? They're probably my favorite monsters but at certain times when I was a kid I liked werewolves just as much or maybe a little more.



Anne Rice ruined vampires... then Stephanie Meyer came along and pissed on their remains.
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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Mon Jan 03, 2011 2:41 am

I knew water bears (tardigrades) were pretty tough, but I didn't know they could survive exposure to space + radiation... wow. They will be our next rulers.

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http://www.cell.com/current-biology/retrieve/pii/S0960982208008051
Summary

Vacuum (imposing extreme dehydration) and solar/galactic cosmic radiation prevent survival of most organisms in space [1]. Only anhydrobiotic organisms, which have evolved adaptations to survive more or less complete desiccation, have a potential to survive space vacuum, and few organisms can stand the unfiltered solar radiation in space. Tardigrades, commonly known as water-bears, are among the most desiccation and radiation-tolerant animals and have been shown to survive extreme levels of ionizing radiation [2,3,4]. Here, we show that tardigrades are also able to survive space vacuum without loss in survival, and that some specimens even recovered after combined exposure to space vacuum and solar radiation. These results add the first animal to the exclusive and short list of organisms that have survived such exposure.

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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Fri Feb 04, 2011 12:40 pm

I remember learning about daphnia (water fleas) since I was a little kid watching films in our school cafeteria. I don't remember it having inducible defenses. I find that fascinating.

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7007/8/51

Evolution of inducible defenses

Predation is a major selective force structuring biological communities and causing the evolution of defenses in many prey organisms. While permanent defenses evolve under constant predation pressure, inducible defenses are adaptations to heterogeneity in predation risk [1] and likely evolved under divergent selection regimes. Costs for the production or maintenance of defenses are saved during times when these defenses are not required. A fascinating aspect of the study of inducible defenses is that organisms with the same genotype can display dramatically different phenotypes in response to particular environmental factors that are required for activating genes that control the formation of these defenses. The interplay of genes and environment is far from being fully understood, above all since the genes and regulatory pathways have not been identified in most systems. The question whether 'plasticity genes' or interactions between multiple loci regulate plasticity, is an unresolved question (for example, [2]). Inducible defenses evolved in a range of evolutionarily diverse organisms from bacteria to vertebrates [1], but waterfleas (Daphnia), small planktonic crustaceans, are particularly famous for their large variety of spectacular inducible defenses. These inducible defenses include prominent morphological changes preventing capture [3,4], adaptive shifts in body size contrasting predator's prey-size selectivity [5], depth-selection behavior [6] to spectacular phenomena such as vertical migration where tons of zooplankton avoid predator encounters by changing their position in a diurnal rhythm.


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Heard about it from an NPR story I heard this morning.

Tiny Water Flea Clocks In Record Number Of Genes
http://www.npr.org/2011/02/04/133466183/tiny-water-flea-clocks-in-record-number-of-genes

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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby misac » Fri Feb 04, 2011 1:01 pm

No more bugs!!!
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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby misac » Fri Feb 04, 2011 1:03 pm

Here's something not horrible.

The feat has placed Ambam, a Western lowland gorilla at Port Lympne wild animal park in Kent, on the brink of international stardom.

An 18-second piece of footage showing the 21-year-old male walking like a man has become the latest YouTube sensation, viewed by 150,000 people over the last few days.

Gorillas usually prefer to get around by ‘knuckle walking’ – using the padded backs of their front hands to support their huge weights as they move around the floors of forests or zoo enclosures.However, they will also stand on two legs to reach branches or get a better view, and can walk upright, swinging their arms parallel to their opposite legs to counterbalance their weight.

But few gorillas are as good at it as Ambam. Keeper Ingrid Naisby, who has worked with him for 16 years, said: ‘It’s quite unusual in gorillas but Ambam does it quite often and he can balance very well. Other gorillas do it occasionally, but he will do it for a bit of a distance.

‘He’s always liked to stand up. It’s about getting his balance right and he’s well practised. He has perfected it.’ Ambam was born at Port Lympne’s sister park, Howletts, in 1990. He was moved to Port Lympne aged seven and is now the park’s largest gorilla at an impressive 34 stone. Standing upright, he is an impressive 6ft tall.

The footage of him was taken by animal researcher Johanna Watson while she was working for a project on great ape locomotion.


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:lol:
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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:27 pm

misac wrote:No more bugs!!!


Daphnia are closer to crustaceans.

What are you, Scarlet Witch???

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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:28 pm

misac wrote:Here's something not horrible.



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:lol:


Someone's finally discovered Lord Simian?!

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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby The Old Doctor » Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:44 pm

misac wrote:Here's something not horrible. Lord Simian out on a walk to an LCS to get some comics.

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:lol:


Awesome.
"Why are you pointing your screwdrivers like that? They're scientific instruments, not water pistols."
"Oh, the pointing again! They're screwdrivers! What are you going to do? Assemble a cabinet at them?"
"Are you capable of speaking without flapping your hands about?"
""Timey" what? "Timey wimey"?"

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IvCNuB4 wrote:The Old Doctor is Cat-Scratch ?
Well that explains a lot :lol:

BubbaKanoosh wrote:Old Doctor is the NuDCU's Catscratch

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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby The Old Doctor » Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:46 pm

sdsichero wrote:
Someone's finally discovered Lord Simian?!



Sightings are fewer and fewer these days.

Soon he'll be right up there with BigFoot in fame.
"Why are you pointing your screwdrivers like that? They're scientific instruments, not water pistols."
"Oh, the pointing again! They're screwdrivers! What are you going to do? Assemble a cabinet at them?"
"Are you capable of speaking without flapping your hands about?"
""Timey" what? "Timey wimey"?"

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IvCNuB4 wrote:The Old Doctor is Cat-Scratch ?
Well that explains a lot :lol:

BubbaKanoosh wrote:Old Doctor is the NuDCU's Catscratch

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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby Strict31 » Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:47 pm

He's on a walkabout searching for that accursed Plumber.
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"You must be proud, bold, pleasant, resolute,
And now and then stab, as occasion serves."


Edward II: Act 2 Scene 1, by Christopher Marlowe

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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby The Old Doctor » Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:49 pm

Strict31 wrote:He's on a walkabout searching for that accursed Plumber.


He forgot his flaming blue barrel though.
"Why are you pointing your screwdrivers like that? They're scientific instruments, not water pistols."
"Oh, the pointing again! They're screwdrivers! What are you going to do? Assemble a cabinet at them?"
"Are you capable of speaking without flapping your hands about?"
""Timey" what? "Timey wimey"?"

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IvCNuB4 wrote:The Old Doctor is Cat-Scratch ?
Well that explains a lot :lol:

BubbaKanoosh wrote:Old Doctor is the NuDCU's Catscratch

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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:12 pm

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/animals/frogs-scary-name-is-worse-than-its-bite-20110106-19hn1.html

Frog's scary name is worse than its bite
Ben Cubby ENVIRONMENT EDITOR
January 7, 2011

IT CAN'T fly and it doesn't really suck blood, but that hasn't stopped Australian researchers calling a newly discovered species the vampire flying frog.

Jodi Rowley, a biologist at the Australian Museum, found the mysterious frog while exploring an uncharted mountainous region of southern Vietnam.

The moniker comes from the fact that the tadpole of the species carries Dracula-like fangs. No one knows what they are for.

''As far as I know, a tadpole like this hasn't been seen before,'' Dr Rowley said. ''I didn't notice anything strange about the tadpoles at all, until I looked at them under the microscope and saw these hard, black fangs.''

The fangs, described as ''keratinised hooks'' in the journal entry on the species, may possibly be used for hunting or eating, though they seem to project too far outwards from the mouth to be much use for those activities. They could also be used as anchor points to help the tadpoles grip the sides of small ponds in tree holes where the frogs breed and live.

The adult frogs spend most of their lives in trees and sport unusual amounts of webbing between their digits, allowing them to glide from branch to branch in search of food.

Dr Rowley and a team found several frogs, which grow to 4.5 centimetres, excluding their springy legs, in the dank forests of the Langbian Plateau in southern Vietnam in 2008-10.


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