For Bats, All Smooth, Horizontal Surfaces Are Water

trying to drink from a smooth metal plate.

For bats, any smooth, horizontal surface is water. That’s true even if vision, olfaction or touch tells them that the surface is actually a metal, plastic or wooden plate. Bats therefore rely more on their ears than on any other sensory system. This is due to how smooth surfaces reflect the echolocation calls of bats: they act just like mirrors. In nature there are no other extended, smooth surfaces, so these mirror properties prove to be a reliable feature for recognition of water surfaces.

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Super Rats Resistant to Disease!?

Can I Have Some of that Potion?

Everybody knows that if you’re physically fit, you’re less likely to get a wide range of diseases. What most people don’t know is that some people are “naturally” in better shape than others, and this variation in conditioning makes it difficult to test for disease risk and drug effectiveness in animal models.

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“How to” Raise Giant Insects!

Imagine going fishing and catching this!

The giant dragonflies of ancient Earth with wingspans of up to 70 centimeters (28 inches) are generally attributed to higher oxygen atmospheric levels in the atmosphere in the past. New experiments in raising modern insects in various oxygen-enriched atmospheres have confirmed that dragonflies grow bigger with more oxygen, or hyperoxia.

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How Ocean Bacterium Turns Carbon Into Fuel

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Fluorescent labeling of proteins inside the carboxysome show that cyanobacteria create carboxysomes in numbers proportional to length and space them evenly along their longest axis.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. We hear this mantra time and again. When it comes to carbon‹the “Most Wanted” element in terms of climate change‹nature has got reuse and recycle covered. However, it’s up to us to reduce. Scientists at Harvard Medical School are trying to meet this challenge by learning more about the carbon cycle, that is, the process by which carbon moves from the atmosphere into plants, oceans, soils, the earth’s crust, and back into the atmosphere again.

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Hydrothermal Vents Discovered Off Antarctica

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A vent spews chemical fluids from the East Pacific Rise, about 5,600 miles from newly suspected vents on the Pacific Antarctic Ridge.

Scientists at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have found evidence of hydrothermal vents on the seafloor near Antarctica, formerly a blank spot on the map for researchers wanting to learn more about seafloor formation and the bizarre life forms drawn to these extreme environments.

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Are High Speed Elephants Running or Walking?

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Young African Elephant leaving a waterhole in the Savute/Savuti area of Chobe N.P. in Botswana.

Most animals don’t think anything of breaking into a run: they switch effortlessly from walking to a high-speed bouncing run. But what about elephants? Their sheer size makes it impossible for them to bounce up in the air at high speeds. So how are high-speed elephants moving: are they running or walking?

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In Sync: Squid, Glowing Companions March in Genetic Harmony

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Hawaiian bobtail squid

The genetic interplay between the Hawaiian bobtail squid (pictured) and the symbiotic bacteria that colonize its predator-fooling light organ have been charted to reveal a daily rhythm that sets the stage for a balanced, lifelong relationship.

Most humans are blissfully unaware that we owe our healthful existence to trillions of microbes that make their home in the nooks and crannies of the human body, primarily the gut.

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In Bats and Whales, Convergence in Echolocation Ability Runs Deep

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Dolphin.

Only some bats and toothed whales rely on sophisticated echolocation, in which they emit sonar pulses and process returning echoes, to detect and track down small prey. Now, two new studies in the January 26th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, show that bats’ and whales’ remarkable ability and the high-frequency hearing it depends on are shared at a much deeper level than anyone would have anticipated — all the way down to the molecular level.

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Bat Echolocation: 3-D Imaging Differentiates How Various Bats Generate Biosonar Signals

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The Bat can generate and use Biosonar Signals.

Researchers at The University of Western Ontario (Western) led an international and multi-disciplinary study that sheds new light on the way that bats echolocate. With echolocation, animals emit sounds and then listen to the reflected echoes of those sounds to form images of their surroundings in their brains.

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Unusual Snail Shell Could Be a Model for Better Armor

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Nature’s clues about about next generation armor

A recently discovered gastropod from the Kairei Indian hydrothermal vent, called Crysomallon squamiferum, has an unusual shell structure superbly suited for protecting it against penetration attack.

Deep within the Kairei Indian hydrothermal vent field, two-and-one-half miles below the central Indian Ocean, scientists have discovered a gastropod mollusk, whose armor could improve load-bearing and protective materials in everything from aircraft hulls to sports equipment.

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Bacteria Are More Capable of Complex Decision-Making Than Thought

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E. coli culture.

It’s not thinking in the way humans, dogs or even birds think, but new findings from researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, show that bacteria are more capable of complex decision-making than previously known.

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