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Showing posts with label Biology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Biology. Show all posts

Monday, December 5, 2016

Watch out, these ant species can rule the world

Do not underestimate its size. Who would have thought if the ant species that live in the forests of Ethiopia is capable of being a threat to humans. Lepisiota Canescens ant species can be buit super colonies that will spread rapidly in many regions, disrupting the ecosystem and even become a threat to humans.
Lepisiota ants killing a termite. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1gPXYN)
This finding was revealed from a study by a group of American and Ethiopian researchers which have been published in the journal Insectes sociaux. The team included scientists from several institutions in Ethiopia and the United States, including North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, University of Tulsa, Bahir Dar University, California Academy of Sciences, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Researchers observed that the ant genus Lepisiota has mastered the Kruger National Park in South Africa. These ant species colonies were spread in a large area. It is a sign that these species become invasive. They also say that the ant species is the largest super colony ever observed in their natural habitat. They noted this super colony stretching up to 38 km.

"The species that we found in Ethiopia has the potential to become an invasive species," said D. Magdalena Sorger, a researcher from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences was quoted as saying on CNBC on Friday, November 25, 2016.

"Invasive species spread by humans, along with tourism, and trade in Ethiopia are increasing. And only with one queen, the colonies can be formed," he added.
This is a Lepisiota dispatching Pheidole ant. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1gPXs6)
Typically, the ants form the colonies consisting of one nest and ruled by a queen. But there are 20 different species of ants. They form what is called super colonies consisting of many hives and queens. Super colonies can contain billions of ants who had gathered and were able to remove other ant colonies.

For example, the Argentine ants, these ants have a super colony that covers a large part of California and is now expanding to Mexico. Even, the Argentine ants drive out the native ant populations.

These ants attack also cause declines in predators that prey on native ants. And the Argentine ants have also become a 'part' of the Californian society. People reported if they are rampant in the house, out of the pipe, and even in the bags.

Another case that occurred was in Australia, where a port was forced to close when the super ant colonies are found in the cargo hold. Researchers hope that this research will be to understand how the life of ants whose living in their natural habitat. Including preventing before species become invasive. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | SCIENCE DAILY | CNBC]
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Friday, December 2, 2016

Is it true that NASA conceals the signs of life on Mars?

Scientists have been reviewing the images taken by Spirit rover nearly a decade ago. They also concluded that the United States Space Agency (NASA) may previously ignored evidence of the earliest forms of life on other planets.

As reported Express on Sunday, November 27, 2016, a new evidence published in Nature Communications showed outcrop rocks and regoliths formed of opaline silica photographed by Spirit Rover in Gusev Crater in 2007 could potentially have biosignatures, the nature trails current or past.
Spot the difference: Silica deposits on Mars, inset, compared to on Earth. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1gGAh9)
Two experts from Arizona State University (ASU), Steve Ruff and Jack Farmer looked at data from the visits of Spirit Rover to Home Plate, a plateau of layered rock in the crater region of Columbia Hills. It is an ancient region of volcanic ash eroded, believed to still contain active hot water, which has formed silica outcrops, including finger-like formations which were photographed.

In addition, they also occur in less obvious forms, including organic molecules remaining trapped in rocks and compacted mat of microbes known as stromatolites, which is an early form of life on Earth, and are found in Western Australia, and El Tatio in Chile.

Stromatolites are formed when microbial colonies gathered in a humid environment, before trapping sediment in a sticky surface. Sediment reacts with the calcium carbonate in the water, creating a buildup of lime.
Proof of life? The silica deposits on Mars, left, are remarkably similar to on Earth, right. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1gGAh9)
Stromatolites in El Tatio, which has conditions similar to Mars also formed by hot springs, said to resemble images taken in the Spirit Rover in the Mars crater. Deposits of silica in the structure in EI Tatio discovered by a team almost identical to that found in Gusev Crater.

"Our results indicate that the condition is more like Mars than El Tatio produce unique deposit, including biomediated silica structure, with characteristics that are favorable compared with the silica outcrops of Home Plate. This similarity raises the possibility that Mars silica structure is formed in a way that is comparable," as the team wrote in the report.

On a separate report last month by a different team of scientists concluded evidence of life on Mars may have been discovered in 1976, but scientists suggest it then do not believe it. A review study called Viking Labeled Release, see the two probes land on the Red Planet, brings interesting claims that the soil collected from Mars indicate microbial life.

The spacecrafts landed 4,000 miles of each other on Mars in the 1970s, but both produce the same surprising results after the Martian soil analysis. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | EXPRESS]
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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Scientists found a new unique millipede

Millipedes, so people often mention the name of smallish reptiles, jointed, and has a row of legs a lot. The arthopoda type animal is one that is often found in parts of Indonesia, India, South Africa and several other countries.

But recently, scientists stunned by the discovery of a unique new species of millipedes in a cave in California. As quoted by LiveScience on Wednesday, October 26, 2016, the male-sex arthopoda has a number of legs and genitals of different animals like.
A new species of millipede (Illacme tobini) with about 414 legs and four 'penises' was discovered in a cave in Sequoia National Park in California. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1fMICM)
If the millipedes in general have about 700 feet, these findings have only 414 and 4 of which also can be converted into the penis. The animal found in the marble caves known as Lange Cave, located in Sequoia National Park, California also has a unique metabolic system. Of the pore of its body, the animal named 'Illacme tobini' can release 200 toxic substances. The hazardous liquids that supposedly serves as a 'weapon' to protect themselves from predators.

The name of Illacme Tobini itself taken from the name of a scientist who discovered this new species, Ben Tobini, a cave expert in the Grand Canyon National Park. The Illacme tobini research starts from 2002 to 2009. During the search formed by Tobini, a cave biologist, Jean Krejca (now working in Zara Evironmental Texas) found the figure of a small milipede measuring only 20 millimeters long.

Krejca then send it to be analyzed to milipeda expert Paul Marek of Virgina Tech, and William Sher from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. The scientists then 'excited' to realize they're researching a new species of the Illacme type (so far only one type that was found, ie Illacme plenipes).

The animal was found in an area that is as far as 240 kilometers from Lang Cave. The millipede has 750 feet, and is the milipede with feet at most on the Earth. "I never expected to 'hold' the second type of animal with the most number of feet on the planet, which was found in a cave within 240 kilometers of the previous finding," Marek said in a statement.

After the discovery, the researchers continue their search in hopes of finding another sample of Illacme tobini. They are probing around Lange Cave and 63 other locations in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. But did not find others. The millipede in the hands of scientists is believed to be the only one Illacme tobini and stud of the existing new species.

According to the research, this 'blind' millipede is prey on fungi as the main food source. They also mention that the ninth and tenth feet of the arthopoda can be transformed into a millipede typical penises known as gonopods. The 'penis' has a tapered tip shaped like a shovel and a projection that serves deliver sperm from the male to the female one.

Illacme tobini discovered 90 years after Illacme plenipes discovered in 1928. Both of these animal species belong to Siphonorhinidae (a group only consist of 12 species). *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | LIVESCIENCE]
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Thursday, November 3, 2016

The world's most tough birds

The common swift (Apus apus) as arguably the most tough birds in the air. The species was able to fly 10 months without once landed. In the research results from Andres Hedenstrom, a sweden researcher of the Lund University, and published in the Current Biology journal on Thursday, October 27, 2016 is evidence of the bird toughness.
Common swift (Apus apus) can fly for 10 months straight without landing. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1fJmyW)
Previously, a British researcher named Ron Lockey, in the 1970s have suspected that the common swift has an incredible flying ability. However, Hedenstrom-was the first to prove it. Hedenstrom and his colleagues put a mini monitors movement device in the back of a number of common swift. The device is very light, only 1 gram, so the birds do not feel carrying the load.

Of the monitoring results data reveal, in a year, the common swift able to fly up to 10 months non-stop and just be full on the mainland for two months. "This discovery broke the limitations of our knowledge about the animal physiology," said Hedenstrom. "10 months is the longest flying time on the birds, this is a record," he said as quoted by Science Alert on Friday, October 28, 2016.

The flying ability of the common swift Apus apus defeats another kind of swift, Tachymarptis melba, which can fly nonstop up to 6 months. Both Apus Apus and Tachymarptis melba traveled millions of kilometers during his life that an average of only 5.5 years. They could fly from Europe to Africa at the turn of the season.
After revealing the toughness of common swift, Hedenstrom not satisfied. He wondered how the common swift can last for a long time in the air and whether the bird did not sleep at all for 10 months. "Every day, at dawn and dusk, the common swift rises to a height of 2-3 kilometers. Maybe they were sleeping when dropped from a height, but we're not sure," he said. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | SCIENCE ALERT]
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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Turned out, this killer snake to help save human

It is known as the "killer of killers" for attacking and devouring some of the deadliest snakes on Earth, due to the snake has the venom can to help save human. It is blue coral snake (Calliophis bivirgata), a reptile from South East Asia has a blue body with a striking red on the head. The reptiles also have the venom glands that can grow up to a quarter of the body length.

Although it is one of the snakes are fairly well known, but the secret behind its venom still become a mystery until now. A team of scientists who have been studying the blue coral snake believe that the animal's venom can be used as a drug for humans, especially as a pain reliever.
Meet the bona fide killer known as the long-glanded blue coral snake of southeast Asia. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1fI946)
Associate Professor Bryan Fry, from the University of Queensland's School of Biological Science who contributed to the study say that he likes to see to where it is most unusual when searching for new drugs. The uniqueness of blue coral snake and it venom reacts quickly to make it interested to learn.

"Specialization in my lab is using evolution as a map, so we are looking for the weirdest thing we could find," Fry said, as quoted by News.com.au, on Monday, October 31, 2016.

"We had a simple reason, that is, if you want to find something new and amazing to be used as a drug, you're more likely to get it from very unusual venom. From the unbelievably rare animals we have made discoveries that can benefit human health," he added.

The blue coral snake can grow up to two meters and its venom glands can reach 60 centimeters. The animal has a penchant by eating the young king cobra snake. Therefore, a blue coral snake needs to have the ability to paralyze their prey immediately.
The snake’s venom acts in a similar way to a scorpion’s by instantly paralysing its victim. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1fI946)
The blue coral snake develop toxins called calliotoxin that can cause the victims seizures like an electric shock. According to research published in the Toxin journal, it is because the animal's venom contained a number of unusual peptides that can activate all nerves of the prey and causes paralysis.

So how does it work on human health? 
For Fry and his colleague, Jennifer Deuis, the workings of the calliotoxin interesting. Therefore, the sodium channels also likely to affect the appearance of the pain experienced by humans. "By blocking the sodium channels is a promising way of healing to deal with the pain," said Deuis as told to the Washington Post.

Calliotoxin also interesting because it comes from vertebrate. Accordingly, compounds that work on a system that is more similar to humans. Do not imagine that in the future the scientists will be flushed of toxins from the blue coral snake. No, that will not be done by Fry and colleagues. Fry said, that will be developed is a synthetic compound of calliotoxin.

Fry added that the insights gained from how work of the venom to generate important drug development. "Even if it can not be a cure, it is already directly teach us about how the sodium channel works and means we have more data to design the drugs," he said.

For Fry, the research was also a lesson about the importance of conservation. Declining biodiversity may complicate his task, because the number of the most venomous creatures and unique potential to become the drug also reduced. 

Like many other species, the blue coral snake is facing the hard future and uncertain. "This is a very rare snake and it will become more scarce," said Fry. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | NEWS.COM.AU]
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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Scientists found the answer, why the snakes have no legs?

Why the snakes have no legs? So far, we may be satisfied with the answer: the snakes evolved. However, two scientists from the University of Florida, ie Martin Cohn, Ph.D., and Ph.D. candidate Francisca Leal would like to delve deeper, especially in terms of genetics. They also want to know whether the evolution could make the snake became legged on the future.
(Pictured: the Burmese python) Why the snakes have no legs. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1f9wWu)
The scientists research uncover, development of limbs in snakes is determined by the "Sonic the Hedgehog" genes. And the name of "Sonic the hedgehog" is taken from a similar urchins bone are grown in the early on the snakes embryo.

"It was one of the strangest in the vertebrate skeleton," said Martin J Cohn who is doing research. Although snakes have no legs now, but the gene still exist. The gene can be "on" and "off". In the snakes, the gene is "off" so that the legs do not grow.

"In lizards, the Sonic hedgehog "on" and acting as a motor, and encourage the development of means of motion of the hand up to the fingers," explains Cohn as quoted of Motherboard on Wednesday, October 25, 2016.

In his publication on the journal Current Biology, Cohn reveals that the python's Sonic Hedgehog gene was "on" in the early embryo. That's why the python may sometimes have some sort of claw that actually is going to the feet.
These findings suggest, python may actually has the feet. No need evolution. But the phyton only should took exact genetic mutations, then the legs grew. The genetic studies on the snakes can be useful to study the evolution wider.

"I think this could be the basis to conduct a comparative study of how organs lost in evolution," said Cohn. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | MOTHERBOARD]
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