Nothing, except for this fish, appropriately named the elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii) for its peculiar, elongated spout. The fish is widespread in the flowing waters of West Africa and hunts insect larva at dawn and dusk. Its nose is actually a sensitive extension of its mouth, that it uses for self-defense, communication, navigation, and finding worms and insects to eat. This organ is covered in electroreceptors, as is much of the rest of its body. The elephantnose uses a weak electric field, which it generates with specialized cells called electrocytes, which evolved from muscle cells, to find food, to navigate in dark or turbid waters, and to find a mate. The elephantnose fish live to about 6 to 10 years. [ ... ]
This species, known as the bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois), is a carnivorous worm that usually makes it home by digging a vertical burrow in the sand between rocks or corals in a tropical reef. The burrow is barely wider than the creature's body, but must be as deep as the worm is long. The bobbit worm finds prey with five long antennae on the top of its "head". These antennae wave in the current, picking up scents of possible prey in the water as they flow by and letting the worm know a meal might be near. Not only does it strike at its prey with sharpened jaws, it injects a toxin, which stuns or kills it. The worm can grow up to ten feet in length and eats mostly crustaceans and mollusks.
Researchers have discovered a new compound, named 'darwinolide', inside an Antarctic sponge, Dendrilla membranosa (above, middle), that has shown to kill 98.4 percent of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) cells it comes in contact with. Lab tests so far suggest that it has a unique structure that allows it to penetrate the 'biofilm' that MRSA throws up to protect itself from treatments.
The next step is to synthesise darwinolide in the lab, so they don't have to rely on extracting it from live Antarctic sponges. If the researchers are able to show that they can use darwinolide to fight MRSA in a clinical setting, it could save the lives of tens of thousands of people every years.
The manchineel tree (Hippomane mancinella) has taken the title of world’s most dangerous tree. This evergreen grows up to 15 metres (49 ft) tall, and is native to tropical southern North America and northern South America. It has reddish-greyish bark, small greenish-yellow flowers, and shiny green leaves ranging in size from 5 to 10 cm (2–4 inches) long.
All parts of the tree contain strong toxins, some unidentified. The leaves and fruit of the tree superficially resemble an apple tree, however one bite of the tree’s fruit can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, bleeding, or death due to an acetylcholine inhibitor known as physostigmine found in the fruit. In addition, its milky white sap contains phorbol and other skin irritants, producing s [ ... ]
Stan Larkin (pictured on the right), who's now 25, was diagnosed with familial cardiomyopathy. This form of disease results in the heart having difficulty pumping enough blood through the body. Faced with a lack of compatible heart donors, Stan underwent an operation in 2014 to remove his failing heart and replace it with an external total artificial heart, dubbed the Freedom portable driver.
This battery-powered device uses compressed air to pump blood around the body in the same way a heart does, and as the name suggests, it is portable and only weighs 6 kilograms (13 pounds). The device does an incredible job at keeping the patient in a healthy condition while a donor heart becomes available, but it isn’t considered a long-term option. [ ... ]
To take the zap out of a school of electric eels, fishermen in 17th century South America sent teams of horses into the water as bait, scooping up the eels after they had exhausted themselves in the attack. According to famed naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, the eels would leap out of the water to shock the frightened - but mostly unharmed - horses. Until now, no one else had recorded evidence of such behavior, and many scientists were skeptical of Von Humboldt’s account. A new study shows that not only do the animals leap from the water to attack their prey, but they also increase their voltage as they leap (see video below). The jumping behavior was first observed by accident: As scientists were studying the eels in an unrelated exper [ ... ]
Back in January, I reported that the periodic table would be getting an update because four new elements were discovered - finally, the new names have been penciled in. Nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson will grace the blocks assigned to atomic numbers 113, 115, 117, and 118, said the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) today.
Nihonium, discovered by a Japanese team, means “the land of the rising sun,” while moscovium and tennessine are named after places near the labs where they were discovered (Moscow and Tennessee, of course). And oganesson recognizes the work of Russian chemist Yuri Oganessian. By tradition, the right to suggest a name for an element is granted to its discoverer, although IUPAC has [ ... ]
To tap into scarce water supplies, most desert plants have extensive root systems that burrow deep or spread wide. But one desert moss has a different trick up its sleeve: a thirst-quenching structure called an awn. Awns are tiny, hairlike structures that project from the end of each leaf to capture water (above). For the first time, scientists have examined in detail how this moss (Syntrichia caninervis) pulls water right from the air using its awns. At the smallest scale, the awns are covered with grooves about 100 nanometers deep and 200 nanometers wide, the perfect size for dew to condense within them when conditions are right. Those nanogrooves lie within larger troughs that measure about 1.5 micrometers deep and 3 micrometers wide, a [ ... ]
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