At first, you might think the weirdest thing about this little caterpillar is its body—long and skinny, with a patch of legs at the front and a patch at the back, it does a lot of rearing up and strategically falling onto things. That last bit becomes important later.
See, this little Hawaiian caterpillar is a killer.
The Carnivorous Caterpillar is a product of island evolution, which is, itself, a pretty weird phenomenon. For instance, a study published in PLoS Biology in October of 2006 found that mammal populations on islands can change their physical appearance and structure at a rate as much as 3.1 times greater than that of mainland mammals.
Islands breed both unusual caterpillars and fast-evolving mammals thanks to a combination of isolated populations—through which mutations can more easily spread—fierce competition for limited resources, and the odd interactions that happen between species of plants and animals that are all experiencing the same sort of pressures. After all, the ecological niche—what you eat, where you live, who eats you—a species inhabited on the mainland might not exist the same way on an island. And it's likely to change relatively rapidly, along with resources and the spread of useful mutations. Over hundreds or thousands of years, an island species can come to look and act very differently from its mainland cousins.
This video is part of Life Is—A new website that brings together tons of clips from BBC nature documentaries and arranges them in a procrastination-friendly browsing menu. You can search for videos by climate, geography, even predominant color scheme—so a passing fancy for a carnivorous caterpillar could lead you to pig-nosed turtles, Chinese rice fields and whistling rats.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, the mind-expanding modus operandi of the counterculture spread into the realm of science, and shit got wonderfully weird. Neurophysiologist John Lilly tried to talk with dolphins. Physicist Peter Phillips launched a parapsychology lab at Washington University. Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill became an evangelist for space colonies. Groovy Science: Knowledge, […]
In a lead editorial in the current Nature, John Wilbanks (formerly head of Science Commons, now “Chief Commons Officer” for Sage Bionetworks) and Eric Topol (professor of genomics at the Scripps Institute) decry the mass privatization of health data by tech startups, who’re using a combination of side-deals with health authorities/insurers and technological lockups to […]
The Wall Street Journal reports that storytellers—people with a natural inclination to craft concise yet compelling narratives without rambling—were found to be hot by science. Feels good to be a writa. The results were the same across all three studies: Women rated men who were good storytellers as more attractive and desirable as potential long-term […]
Learning is a 24/7/365 proposition, and it never ends. And if you’re truly serious about leveling up your skill sets and career prospects, get a subscription to Stone River Academy’s massive course collection. This offer normally is worth over $1,400, but is now available for just $89 in the Boing Boing Store.A respected name in information technology […]
Home audio has taken some big leaps forward in recent years–not just in terms of sound quality, but also in the style department. The FRESHeBAR Leather Soundbar, now 56% off in the Boing Boing Store, is proof.The FRESHeBAR comes packing almost all the options you’d ever need for a home sound system, including Bluetooth streaming capabilities.The unit’s 90 […]
Much of what goes into creating an amazing photo happens in the digital darkroom. Here’s your chance to master all things photo editing: the Ultimate Adobe Photo Editing Bundle, now available in the Boing Boing Store for just $29.99.Across 8 courses and over 41 hours of intensive instruction, you’ll learn the fundamentals of Adobe’s suite of photo […]