Female komodo dragons don't need no man to make more dragons

Back in August 2019, a female komodo dragon named Charlie gave birth to three little dragons at the Chattanooga Zoo. The zookeepers had previously tried to hook her up with a sweet dragon fella named Kadal, but the two never really seemed to hit it off — not that the staff could observe, anyway. And now that they've tested the DNA of young Onyx, Jasper, and Flint, it's finally confirmed: Charlie and Kadal did not hit it off at all, so Charlie took it upon herself to bring the kids into the world. From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

The DNA results showed the babies were the result of parthenogenesis, which is a type of reproduction where the female produces offspring without male fertilization. […] Female Komodo dragons carry WZ sex chromosomes, while males carry the ZZ type. When parthenogenesis happens, the mother can only create WW or ZZ eggs. Since eggs with the sex chromosomes of WW aren't viable, only ZZ eggs are left to produce all male hatchlings. Parthenogenesis is considered very rare, with the first case of a successful parthenogenesis reproduction in Komodo dragons recorded in 2006.

I was personally fascinated to learn that there are so many different categorizations of asexual reproduction, and that it can indeed occur spontaneously in vertebrates without any fertilization. In 2007, there was apparently a bit of a scandal involving a lab-grown human embryo that was allegedly cloned, but turned it to be a productive parthenogenesis. There are also living human beings with some unique chimeric complications in which they were both fertilized by a male, but also underwent some kind of parthenogenesis at the same time, resulting in a male offspring with Y-chromosomes in his skin, but not in his blood. Read the rest

Watch how a heavy anvil floats in a vat of mercury

This is so amazing. Watch what happens when a blacksmithing anvil is lowered into a large vat of pure liquid mercury.

Update: One of our readers posted the link to the original video in the comments. I have replaced the animated GIF. Thanks, Crispy75.

[H/t Alberto Gaitán via Bryce Lynch]

Image: Screengrab from GIF Read the rest

Paris zoo opens a new exhibit with an immortal mutant slime mold called "The Blob"

The blob has no mouth, but I must scream.

To be fair, it doesn't a stomach, or eyes, or feet, or anything resembling a brain, either (at least as far as modern science would define it). It's not technically a fungus, or an animal, or a planet. It is, quite simply, an incomprehensibly bizarre yellow slime mold that's also alive, and at least somewhat-sentient. Even its official scientific classification, physarum polycephalum, literally translates to "many-headed slime."

And now it's held captive and displayed at the Zoo de Paris, starting October 19.

Did I mention that this blob has some kind of intelligence, or at least the ability to remember things, and absorb knowledge from other slime mold blobs that it consumes? And that it's capable of moving independently, squishing along at a limbless rate of about 1.6 inches per hour? It also has 720 different sex organs, and will heal in two minutes if you cut it in half.

It also, apparently, loves the taste of oatmeal, as well as Acacia trees, oak bark, and chestnut bark. So um, at least it's probably not going to eat us when it ultimately escapes and seeks its revenge for being caged and mocked by us lowly humans? Maybe. If we're lucky.

From EuroNews:

"The 'blob' is a living being that is [one] of nature's mysteries. We don't really know what it is," director of the Paris Museum of Natural History, Bruno David, said, adding that it lives and grows in damp forest undergrowth away from the light.

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Start-up injects old people with the blood of the young

We are in serious bad sci-fi movie territory here.

Ambrosia is a start-up offering "young blood" to people who are not "young." This blood is supposed to make you all awesome again! Like before your blood got all old! Only problem being the scientists who conducted the study say it is dangerous.

Apparently, folks are lining up to get injected with the blood of the young.

Business Insider:

Does young blood hold the keys to a long and healthy life? Startup founder and and Stanford Medical graduate Jesse Karmazin believes it might, so he launched a startup called Ambrosia Medical that fills older people's veins with fresh blood from young donors.

But researchers who study the procedure say it poses major risks for patients, including an elevated risk of developing several serious conditions later in life, such as graft-versus-host disease, which can occur when transfused blood cells attack the patient's own cells, and transfusion-associated lung injury.

Irina and Michael Conboy, two University of California at Berkeley researchers who've published research on young blood transfusions in mice, called Ambrosia's plans "dangerous."

"They quite likely could inflict bodily harm," Irina Conboy told Business Insider.

The Conboys' concern stems from an awareness of what happens in the body when it receives foreign blood from a donor.

"It is well known in the medical community — and this is also the reason we don't do transfusions frequently — that in 50% of patients there are very bad side effects. You are being infused with somebody else's blood and it doesn't match," Conboy said.

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