Ecologist and author Jerry A. Coyne writes about the amazing, bizarre treehoppers, which really, really do look like this (they were recently featured in a Nature
article on Alfred Keller, who sculpted the model shown here):
The second thing one asks is, "What the bloody hell is all that ornamentation on the thorax?" (Note that the "balls" on the antenna-like structure aren't eyes, but simply spheres of chitin.) A first guess is that it's a sexually-selected trait, but those are often limited to males, and these creatures (and the ones below) show the ornaments in both sexes. Kemp hypothesizes--and this seems quite reasonable--that "the hollow globes, like the remarkable excrescences exhibited by other treehoppers, probably deter predators." It would be hard to grab, much less chow down on, a beast with all those spines and excrescences.
The surreal treehoppers
(via Geisha Asobi
Frog tongue mechanism has been well-documented, but only recently have scientists started looking at the remarkable combo of tongue softness and frog spit’s chemical makeup.
Elenco’s Night ‘n Day Mechanical Globe uses a system of translucent, exposed gears to rotate an internally illuminated globe that displays the seasonally adjusted, real-time night/day terminator as it spins.
KSU plant biochemical geneticist Raj Nagarajan describes the properties of Thaumatin, Monellin and Brazzein, all found in west African plants that are generally considered safe for consumption; each is a protein, and they are, respectively, 1,000x, 2000x, and 3000x sweeter than sugar.
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