How to cook and eat a gourmet meal in Antarctica

Very quickly. Before it, and you, freeze.

On Cyprien Verseux's Twitter account, wonderful snapshots of fun with food on the bleak, frozen ice sheets of Antarctica. Read the rest

A CRISPR-based hack could eradicate malaria-carrying mosquitoes

A research team from Imperial College London have published promising results of an experiment in which Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes -- responsible for the spread of malaria -- were genetically modified with a stable, gene-drive-based CRISPR modification that caused them to go extinct in the lab. Read the rest

DNA ancestry tests are bullshit

Adam Rutherford's amazing book A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived is on shelves in the USA now; debunking the absurd claims made by genetics testing companies -- claims about your distant relationship to ancient kings or the percentage of your genes that came from Vikings. Read the rest

Nature's greatest con-artists: the parasitic beetles that trick ants into barfing into their mouths

Myrmecophiles are parasitic beetles that use chemical cues to fool ants into bringing them into their nests and regurgitating food into their mouths, diverting the colony's bounty of semi-digested ant-chow from the queen and her babies to their own hungry guts. Ant Lab shows us how a Xenodusa beetle can con Camponotus ants into a lifetime of free meals and cuddles. For further reading, check out Behavior and exocrine glands in the myrmecophilous beetle Lomechusoides strumosus (Fabricius, 1775) (formerly called Lomechusa strumosa) (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Aleocharinae) in PLOS One. (Thanks, Adrian!) Read the rest

Save The Elephants: How DNA revealed the 3 cartels behind most of Africa’s ivory smuggling

Science writer Ed Yong has an amazing whodunit at The Atlantic on how genetic science can help stop elephant poaching. Read the rest

Use VR to travel through a duck's amazing vagina

The internet is perpetually amused and fascinated by the crazy, corkscrewing duck penis, but commonsense dictates that if fella ducks have crazy willies, then lady ducks will have equally amazing hoo-hahs. Read the rest

How do trees talk to each other?

Trees "talk" to each other in forests. They are part of underground networks based on symbiotic relationships, known as mycorrhiza, with fungi. To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, the medium is the mushroom. (National Geographic)

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Watch this cuttlefish hypnotize a crab (and maybe you, too)

This broadclub cuttlefish like to prowl the Indonesian reefs for crabs, which it then hypnotizes with its remarkable skin before grabbing and eating. Read the rest

Cool demonstration of how sponges eat

Shape of Life is a classic series produced by Sea Studios Foundation. Here, they show how sponges feed by placing harmless dye around the outside of a sponge. Read the rest

How much is your body worth?

From a chemistry standpoint, your body isn't worth a lot, but from an organ standpoint, it can be. AsapSCIENCE does the back-of-the-envelope calculations.

It turns out the question comprises a subgenre with wildly varying quality:

How much is your body worth? (YouTube / AsapSCIENCE) Read the rest

Turns out that python eggs stick to each other for a bunch of good reasons

YouTuber Retic over at Prehistoric Pets TV has a huge collection of pythons and other ancient creatures. Here he shows how and why a clutch of python eggs can be lifted up in giant sticky clumps. Read the rest

What makes a woman? New documentary seeks answers

Transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf hosts the new Channel 4 documentary What Makes a Woman? Science and society are grappling with the complex and contentious topics of sex, sexuality, and gender. New research and evidence demonstrate that simplistic binaries are more complicated than previously believed. Read the rest

Bringing DNA testing to the Loch Ness Monster mystery

For more than a century there have been reports of a strange sea "monster" living in Loch Ness yet hard evidence is, er, lacking. Now, evolutionary biologist Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago is hoping that DNA testing could perhaps shed some light on what people claim is Nessie. For two weeks, Gemmell and his team will collect skin and scale samples from Loch Ness and compare those DNA sequences against known animals. Here's what Gemmmell told the BBC News:

"I don't believe in the idea of a monster, but I'm open to the idea that there are things yet to be discovered and not fully understood. Maybe there's a biological explanation for some of the stories."

"While the prospect of looking for evidence of the Loch Ness monster is the hook to this project, there is an extraordinary amount of new knowledge that we will gain from the work about organisms that inhabit Loch Ness - the UK's largest freshwater body..."

"There is this idea that an ancient Jurassic Age reptile might be in Loch Ness. If we find any reptilian DNA sequences in Loch Ness, that would be surprising and would be very, very interesting."

Above, "The Surgeon's Photograph" of 1934, known to be a hoax. Read the rest

Watch how unhatched birds get oxygen inside their shells

How birds get oxygen inside their eggs. File this great explainer under "questions previously unconsidered that have interesting answers." Read the rest

Why tumbleweeds tumble

Recently, Carla posted about tumbleweeds invading Victorville, California leading to numerous 911 calls. Why do tumbleweeds tumble though? To make more tumbleweeds of course. From KQED's Deep Look:

Starting in late fall, (tumblweeds) dry out and die, their seeds nestled between prickly dried leaves. Gusts of wind easily break dead tumbleweeds from their roots. A microscopic layer of cells at the base of the plant — called the abscission layer — makes a clean break possible and the plants roll away, spreading their seeds. When the rains come, an embryo coiled up inside each seed sprouts.

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The world's oldest known spider has died

This female trapdoor spider, named Number 16, was the world's oldest known spider. A lifelong resident of the Australian outback, she has just died at age 43. From Curtin University:

The research, published in the Pacific Conservation Biology Journal, suggests the 43-year-old Giaus Villosus trapdoor matriarch, who recently died during a long-term population study, had outlived the previous world record holder, a 28-year old tarantula found in Mexico.

Lead author PhD student Leanda Mason from the School of Molecular and Life Sciences at Curtin University said the ongoing research has led to new discoveries about the longevity of the trapdoor spider.

“To our knowledge this is the oldest spider ever recorded, and her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider’s behaviour and population dynamics,” Ms Mason said.

“The research project was first initiated by Barbara York Main in 1974, who monitored the long-term spider population for over 42 years in the Central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia.

“Through Barbara’s detailed research, we were able to determine that the extensive life span of the trapdoor spider is due to their life-history traits, including how they live in uncleared, native bushland, their sedentary nature and low metabolisms.”

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Amazing video of cells moving within an organism

Scientists combined multiple imaging technologies to deliver an unprecedented 3D view inside the body of crawling cancer cells, spinal cord circuit development, and immune cells traveling within a zebrafish (above). Nobel laureate Eric Betzig and his colleagues at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute integrate a technology called lattice light sheet microscopy with adaptive optics resulting in a very expensive, 10-foot-long microscope. From HHMI:

“It’s a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster right now,” says Betzig, who is moving to the University of California, Berkeley, in the fall. His team is working on a next-generation version that should fit on a small desk at a cost within the reach of individual labs. The first such instrument will go to Janelia’s Advanced Imaging Center, where scientists from around the world can apply to use it. Plans that scientists can use to create their own microscopes will also be made freely available. Ultimately, Betzig hopes that the adaptive optical version of the lattice microscope will be commercialized, as was the base lattice instrument before it. That could bring adaptive optics into the mainstream.

“If you really want to understand the cell in vivo, and image it with the quality possible in vitro, this is the price of admission,” he says.

More videos here.

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