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.
Scientists discovered this new species of “glass frog” in Ecuador’s Amazon lowlands. Hyalinobatrachium yaku’s belly is so transparent that you can clearly see its kidneys, bladder, and beating heart. From Science News: Yaku means “water” in Kichwa, a language spoken in Ecuador and parts of Peru where H. yaku may also live. Glass frogs, like […]
Jennifer Raff — a bioanthropologist and geneticist who researches and teaches at U Kansas and U Texas — provides some excellent advice and context on how to read a scientific paper, from figuring out which papers and journals are worthy of your attention to understanding the paper in its wider context in the relevant field.
Apple released this lovely new commercial featuring Carl Sagan reading from his magnificent 1994 book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, now available as an audiobook. This surprising partnership spurred Adweek to interview my friend Ann Druyan, Sagan’s wife, collaborator, and creative director of the Voyager Golden Record, about being […]
If you struggle to get a good night’s rest, consider replacing your pillows before dropping hundreds on a new mattress. You can give your tired neck a break with a 2-pack of memory foam pillows, available now in the Boing Boing Store.Each of these pillows is stuffed with cooling polyurethane foam that molds to your […]
Although flagship smartphones are unlikely to adopt heavy-duty outer casing anytime soon, you can always prepare your device for the outdoors with a beefy case and and an external battery like this Nomad Tile Trackable PowerPack, available in the Boing Boing Store for $119.95.The Nomad Tile can fully recharge an iPhone 7 over three times […]
Even though credit cards now feature an EMV chip for securing transactions, they still have to include the magnetic strip for compatibility with older point of sale systems. Because of this, there’s no way for the chip’s new security capabilities to protect against card skimmers in the wild.How do you protect yourself from legacy-technology-induced fraud? […]