If hell was the sea...

Vampyroteuthis infernalis. Image taken from http://l.yimg.com

All species get a latin name that in one way or the other are supposed to say something about the characteristics of the species in question. Now, imagine that you belong to a species that has been given the very humble suffix infernalis, which translates as "from hell". That would be a name to brag about! A squid has actually been blessed with this name, and as if this hellish surname wasn't enough, an additional horror-associated word has been put in its name Vampyroteuthis infernalis - "the vampire squid from hell". Extreamly sophisticated. 

Image taken from http://www.tolweb.org

This creature was first described in 1903, and it shares similarities with both octopuses and squids making it a tough cookie for phylogeny-people. It is only 15 cm in size, but has been found in sizes up to 30 cm, and is pigmented in variations from jet-black to pale-red, while the eyes are red or blue. The eye-to-body-size is actually the largest found among animals. Being a deep sea creature (living 600-900 m under the surface), it is capable of producing light, so that other animals down there can be temporarely disoriented by sudden flashes of light. In addition, the produces light can create illusional transparency when seen from below, making the vampire squid invisible for predators lurking even further down in the dark. When attacked, the squid places its arms with the tips glowing with light in a posture far away from the body, so that the attacker is drawn towards the body parts that are not as critical for survival as the body would be.

I can't find anything on why it has been given the name "the vampire squid from hell". In my world, such a name would be given to a creature with some diabolical quest in the deep dark sea, but from what I read, this seems to be a friendly creature (exept if you are a small shrimp or whatever it could be preying on), more suitable for a name such as "the pacifistic squid-like octopus from deep below" or "the colored yet transparent eight-armed squid/octopus" (I don't know how that would sound in latin though). Perhaps the name comes from its leathery apperance when it is looked upon in certain positions? Or perhaps it's name-giver had red too much Lovecraft? Either way, it's still swimming and are most likely not interested if we call it this or that. It just is, as we all are. 

A bit more like a vampirish appearence. Image taken from http://www.lifesci.icsb.edu


Daddy dino

I don't really know what the purpose of the following study actually was, but some paleontologists have unraveled that dinosaur males were good fathers, guarding the nest and looking out for the kids. This conclusion is drawn from the analysis of clutch sizes, where the volume of these were two/three times larger than expected from adult body size and the largest clutch sizes ought to have been cared for by males only. Now that's something to tell your chauvinist boss if he derides you for wanting to stay at home for a while with your newborn. 


Stinky pretty things

It's almost christmas. Now we are supposed to spend time with family, binge in on vulgar food and sing crappy music. And everything should be decorated with pretty, nice-smelling things such as pine, apples, cinnamon, oranges and so forth. (If we are those who believe that we are descendents of the apple-eating Adam and snake-loving Eve we may read a chapter or two in a book written by old men from an extinct culture, highly divergent from our own. Well, well. I'm not going to minimize theist in this post (although I might have done it already)). I'm going to write about what you would not like to have in your house in order to create a nice and relaxing atmophere, unless you're related to the residents of the Hardesty house (Texas chainsaw massacre), namely so called "carrion flowers". 

Carrion flowers are also known as stinking flowers, since they smell of rotten flesh. At a first sight, they often look pretty but their smell is awful, having evolved to attract beetles and flies for pollination purposes, and not humans for decoration purposes.

Rafflesia arnoldii.

The species with the largest individual flower (in the whole world actually) is Rafflesia arnoldii, being capable of growing into an impressive one metrer in diameter and weighing up to 11 kilograms. It can be found (although it's hard to find it unless it's floweing; then you can follow the scent) in the rainforests of southeast Asia, and since these forest are dissapearing day by day it is assumed that this facinating plant is greatly threatened. 

Then we have Titan arum, a carrion flower bragging as being the plant with the worlds largest unbranched inflorescence in the world being able to grow to a enormous 3 meters (!). This plant is also found in southeast Asia. 

Titan arum.

Titan arum.

Two other carrion flower species are Stapelia gigantea and Smilax herbacea, stinking up nature and being loved by carcass attracted insects around the world.

Stapelia gigantea. Image taken from http://anti-matter-3d-com/Stapeliads

Similax herbacea. Image taken from http://mrhyker.tripod.com/floraandfauna.

Parthogenesis before christmas

A friend at work recently gave me a couple of Extatosoma tiaratum eggs, which in plain english is a stick insect. The cool thing with stick insects is their reproductive behaviour, which has bended the rules that we might think ought to be universal. When the females have males around, they mate in the good old fashion lutheranian way, i.e. female get's down with male and have babies. Not very exiting. But when there's no suitable male in her territory, she's able to do what no human ever has or ever will be able to do; namely, to make babies herself. This is
known as parthogenesis, in which an egg continues to develop into a embryo and then you know the story... In short, no male gamete is needed! That seems to be a very flexible system.

Parthogenesis is not that uncommon. It's known to occur in insects and arthropods, and also in some reptiles, fish, birds and sharks. Since it's a egg that develops into the offspring, the offpring will be all female if the sex chromosome system is two like chromosomes determine the female sex (like our XY-system), or they will be all males if two like chromosomes determine the male sex (like the ZW-system in moths). The offpring will be able to reproduce in the same way as it's mother, or - if it's female - continue with the self-copying.

What makes parthogenesis even more cool than cloning is that here, all cellular material is of the same descendant, whereas in cloning, only the nucleus will be identical to it's "mother". So, once again; an example of the amazing world of nature. We can try to mimc and to understand but we will never ever be able to comprehend it all. And that's not necessary a bad thing.

(I actually had a dream once where parthogenesis was proven to occur in a deer. I didn't realize that it was a dream until I started talking about the subject with my fellow biology students, who started to laugh at my story. If they didn't laugh, then maybe I'd still believe that parthogenesis could occur in mammals. I mean, just count the number of individuals who believe that a 13 year old girl, who lived about 2000 years ago, gave birth to a kiddie without the help of a penis. At least I saw some empiric proof in my very, very realistic dream, *harr harr*.)


Bye bye to the world as we know it

Image source: http://www.wettropics.gov.au/

It seems like climate change has claimed it's first mammal extinction. I bet that when our generation is grey and old, our grandchildren will have a hard time believing all our stories of grandiose wild-life. But if they do believe us, they will surely think that we were idiots for letting it go this far.


Still here, still biting...

Not a pygmy tarsier; just a common one

Remember the "Gremlins", that were hyped during the early 90's? They were a cuddly and nice mogwai until you gave them water, fed them after midnight or exposed them to sunlight; then they started to clone themselves (groovy!) and became evil little bastards. This movie goes under the genre "comedy-horror" but we who weren't even ten when we saw it for the first time may have missed the "comedy" part. Either way, our parents probably told us that the gremlins weren't for real. This time, our parents were a bit wrong. Because deep in the wild of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, scientists have re-discovered the pygmy tarsier, which is a gremlin look-a-like. They have been thought to be extinct for a while (last note of their presence where back in 1921), so most likely they are not able to clone themselves (aren't we all suprised). In addition, they live in a very moist habitat with fog all around at all times and appearently, they are not very cuddly because the scientist that found them got bit. Maybee it's the water that made them evil. Or not. BUT they do have something in common with other horror movies, the Exorcist namely. You know when the pea-soup-vomiting-possesed-girl Regan spins her head around 360 degrees? The pygmy tarsier are able to do halv of that (180 degrees, that is...in case your head isn't working today). Very impressive!


Some general jibberish from a late-afternoon-tired mind

This will be a highly monologuic post, at least more than the previous ones. I came across this article today. In short, some researchers have found that women in all ages tend to like male faces that's more "testosteronized" than the opposite and that women in all fertile ages tend to deride female faces that are percieved as "pretty".
The good old female chauvinist pig in me immediately started to find flaws in the protocol of this experiment, such as using "attractive" as a general definition while I would say that this is a feature of high variance depending on whom is the judge. But then, the biology nerd in me started referring to nature: if all other mammals are allowed to have differences between the sexes and differences depending on their developmental status, environment etc. why should that not account for us as well?
It's a strong but stupid urge that almost all of us possess; i.e. the urge to take sides. But do we really have to do it in every single case that we come across? In this case, humans are definitely driven by our biology BUT as with all other living things (perhaps even more) we are highly dependent on environmental factors. You are born with the ability to be scared of dogs, but if you never encounter a dog behaving badly you'll never develop this feature. In addition, depending on whether you meet a angry dog when you're 3 or 30 years old the result may vary quite differently.
So, back to the faces-study. The thing is, I can relate to not liking "pretty" girls, or at least finding exuses not to feel entusiastic about their presence whenever someone else is talking about them. But is it nessecary so that I was born destined to feel this way when I began my fertile age all the way to menopause? Could it not be the environment that I'm born into that has formed the perfect settings for this behaviour to appear? Many factors could affect this, such as seeing how much attention these "pretty" ones get's from the opposite sex, or hearing how older females talks bad about other females. This does not mean that it's an innate behaviour.
What I do think that these types of studies could be good for is to make us take a step away from ourselves and see how we react. Thereby we can become more aware about the personalit(y/ies) that we have derived from the thousands possibilities present for us at birth. And we could try to stop behaviour that is not necessarily helping us in the society we have today. In a naive way, I believe by doing so, we might be closer to a nicer world. At least a world without cat fights.


Born to be what?

We're all mutants. Now, I de-glorified all Marvel comics heros/villains that posess some kind of extrordinary gift due to being a "mutant". Well, it's not that remarkable in the real world. You won't gain any cool abilities by exposing yourself to nuclear waste, except the ability to grow aggressive tumors in your body (otherwise, imagine what the flora and fauna around Chernobyl would look like at this time). Still, mutations occur all the time; in us and around us. By using the different mechanisms, that causes mutations, in the laboratory we may see glimpses of how nature could work.

In all animals, fungi and plants there are a group of genes called HOX-genes. These dictates the development from a single cell to the multicellular being that we become. Think of them as "on and off" buttons that can be connected in a huge network, giving thousands of possibilities for combining the signals. In simple words, the different combinations of HOX-genes determines the orientation of the future body, i.e. where the head should be, the legs and so on, as well as growing wings instead of an arm. This means that a small change in the combinations directs the developing body to a completely different structure than "normal". Usually, the consequences are so severe that the fetus is spontaniously aborted, but not all developmental disturbances are lethal.

The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster have been studied to the core when it comes to the HOX-genes. By disturbing the pattern of expression of these genes, either with mutations or environmental factors (such as chemicals) a fly with antennae instead of eyes develops, or a fly with two thoraxes (see pictures further down for both). In mice you can disturb the development by turning "on" some of the HOX-genes way too much so that the new born mouse has no hair at all. So it's not as simple as just having a genome with all you need to build a being. The genome must be extremely fine-tuned in order to have all limbs in the correct places!



When I come around

I tend to dwell a lot on everything that concerns being human. I mean, what combinations of minor and major evolutionary processes have led us to this character state defined as a Homo sapiens? Things like this can easily keep my nights sleepless. You know the saying if a tree falls in the forest and no one's around to see or hear it, did it ever occur at all? If you say no, then did the world really exist before your first memory? Even better: did the world exist before the one and only "I think therefore I am" species (i.e. us) came along?

If you leave out philosophy and creation myths that place humans in the center, then yeah, there was something here before us. Actually, there were a lot of things here before us. Some, like liverworth are still here today but more species that you could ever imagine have walked and inherited the earth in thousands (or millions!) of years before us, until some cryptic event made them head towards extinction. If you dig around in the earth's crust you may come across some fossils, but we will never ever be able to know all the creatures that have existed (or that will exist in the last million years of this planet, but that's another question).

Predating the waters of the Cambrian period was a strange little being named Opabinia regalis, belonging to a group of animals that have no decendants living today. The fossil record claims that it was up to 7 cm long, had five eyes and a really remarkable feeding part of its body (which makes me think of the offspring of a trilobite, elephant and a vacuum cleaner). The Cambrian period flourished with life forms in many, many versions but this period ended with the greatest mass extintion ever, leaving behind a fraction of species that later evolved into the various life forms we are today.

I may add that the fossil record is based on fewer than twenty fossils. Now, think about a present species that's fairly abundant in our world and have been so for a couple of hundred thousand years. Imagine that only a fraction of these were fossilised and only 15 of these were discovered by some future creature that has a bias for investigating the world's history. Will that say anything about all the other species that exist today? Not really... More fossils of other species might give more but we will never know it all. And that's what's keeping me up at night. Maybe it's a weird extension of being a control freak, but it really bugs me to know that I will never know how things have been before I came around.

Evolution. An introduction (Stephen C. Stearns and Rolf F. Hoekstra). Second edition.


Eight legged freaks

It's almost halloween, so how 'bout some scary biology curiosities? At least it's scary if you have arachnophobia, in other words if you're afraid of spiders (which I'm not...I'm only afraid of things that has no limbs and no face and dwell this earth a couple of centimetres under our feet...yep, I'm afraid of worms!).

Spiders are kind of cute. They have eight legs, nice eyes (and good vision to, actually), pretty colors and patterns and they may or may not have hair (which isn't hair as in "cuddly", but hair as in "I can sense the worlds movement through sensory systems you humans never could imagine").

Still, I can see why some of you are frightened whenever you come across an arachnid. They could bite you (which worms usually don't do, unless they're disgusting leeches!) with or without poison; they could move rapidly and unpredictable; they can climb up in any possible environment; you can come across them when you least expect it and they could be huuuge. And they can catch animals way bigger than themselves. They can even eat birds and sometimes, if we're lucky, there's a human with a camera to take some pictures so that we can be facinated that others than ourselves likes to eat some chicken now and then.

It's not really that common
but it seems like they used to be munch frequently on feather delicacies during what one might refer to as "the golden age of mygalomorph spiders".



Eye see you

I've never really considered that molluscs could percive the world in a highly sophisticated manner. Well, some actually do. And I should not really be that surprised, but since I'm a human I naturally assume that we are the measure of all things seen as life and that a "simple" little oceanic being would not have senses in the same class as our own...

Here's some close-up shots at a clam (Aequipecten irradians) with it's characteristic blueberry-like eyes. Have no time to dig up any dirt about these sensory organs but I trust that you're all familliar with the wonders of google.com!

Image sources:


You fill up my senses

I'm taking an advanced course at the moment, named "Sensory ecology". It's not really my cup of tea, since I'm usually drawn to genes and molecular biology stuff but there are some highlights. Hot shot professors from all over the world have flewn over to Lund just to give us 50 PhD students (also from all over the world) a 2 h lecture about their topic. And we have ca 3 lectures per day in two weeks, which of course makes the speakers want to stand out from the other lecturers by telling us about behaviours and characteristics in nature that deviates from what we, as humans, would like to precieve as normal.

Image revised from http://www.nadeet.org/pics/newsletter/goldenMole.jpg

Today, one of the topics where the golden mole of Africa. This is a cute little guy, but it has such bad eye sight that evolution have allowed the skin to cover the eyes completely, which only allows it to distinguish light from dark. And it doesn't like it light, so as soon as the sun rises, the golden mole burrows itself deep down in the sand. Instead of relying on vision, these creatures dwell the Namibian desert during the night, searching for insects to eat. To be able to locate it's prey (that's only present on small grass humps in the sand, which in turn is only present here and there in the desert), they have an enormous malleus (that thing we have in our ears, banging at the ear drum when a sound wave causes it to vibrate) specialized for low frequency sounds. To detect the insects faaar away, the golden mole combine "head dipping" and "sand swimming", which allows it to detect things we wouldn't even hear if we had the insect in our ear canals. Marvelous!


Algea-wigs are back in style

What was she for halloween; the punk-iest turtle you've ever seen.

More pictures of this pretty turtle can be found here!


Enjoy the silence

I've neglected this blog thingy for a while. Actually, I've not had much time to spend surfing around the allmighty internet, so that's probably the reason behind my lack of inspiration. And my new grown-up era has taken it's time too! I've been out in the field collecting caddisfly larvae and pupae for my first project, followed by rearing in our lab until the adults emerge. Then I've isolated their DNA, and what's next is kind of a secret...

Either way, I thought this might make some of your face muscles twitch. It concerns a phenomenon atleast I thought was mainly human - necrophilia. Well, it's not. For a couple of years ago, the Ig Nobel awards (the Nobel Prize spoof that celebrates bizarre and apparently pointless science) went to a Dr Moeliker who authored the paper
The First Case of Homosexual Necrophilia in the Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos. Sounds to good to be true. Appearently, this guy was at his office when he heard a bang outside the window. When looking out, he saw a mallard duck raping another dead member of the same species. And it kept on for 75 minutes (!) until Moeliker stopped the whole scenario. The destiny of the unfortunate duck was probably a result of ‘Attempted Rape Flight". Ah, nature - it always keeps me enchanted.

http://www.nmr.nl/nmr/pages/showPage.do?itemid=1930&instanceid=16 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1165607.ece


It's evolution, baby

Image revised from http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=500821

Top news from Nature.com here! For me, this is exciting since it is a very good example of how the evolutionary forces can work. It concerns the tiger moths, which are rejected of a number of predatory species even though they'd probably make a good addition in terms of nutients. Some time ago, it was discovered that some tiger moths produces ultrasonic sounds. Now, this sound is also used by bats, which otherwise likes to eat other individuals of the Lepidoptera. But this sound it is not used to locate the moths. Instead, its used to ward them off, since the bats precive the sounds as toxicity signals (and the tiger moths don't really taste good so if the bat would take a chunk, he'd probably leave it directly which in turn leaves no gain for either the moth or the bat). Tiger moths that are around during summer, when bats are a major threat, uses this as a good way of avoiding becoming dinner. However, some other types emerges when it's springtime and the bats aren't as active. Then, there are other greedy eyes in the environment, such as birds. To cope with this other type of predator, these tiger moths rely on bright coloring to send of some statements to the birds that there's no use in eating them since they would taste unpleasant. Visual signals is also used during the summer, but mainly in day active moths since the daylight makes colors more efficiant. SO, what's cool about this is that two different predators and different light-settings have led to the divergence different antipredator defences within the same species. Like X-men, but for real.



When three become one

I'm monogamous to the extreme, and have never understood why some people likes to wrestle around with several mates at the same time. I suppose I'm what many of my colleagues in the world of evolutionary biology would refer to as a "choosy female". I want one mate and when I find him (which I already have, but that's another theme) all my focus and energy will be on him. Of course, this is not a view that I share with many organisms. The animal kingdom is filled with mating behaviour that, if these manners would ever occur in humans, would make all our religious leaders and puritanists have multiple heart attacks.

For example, male toads mount the female from behind and then fertilizes her eggs externally. This is called amplexus. Since there are many males that have aburning desire to produce some offspring, a single female can be mounted by several males at once (called "multiple amplexus") and different eggs can be fertilized by different males (and the female may actually drown due to the heavy load but I suppose the males are to aroused to care). Multiple amplexus is presumably the reason behind the now-and-then reports of frogs with three heads. It's not one frog with three heads; its three frogs strongly indulging in corpulation so that it looks like one being. True love, perhaps...



Do not feed the trolls

Image revised from http://takeaction.oceana.org

To be such a tiny little planet in such an enormous universe, we have more strange beings that one would expect (of couse, I'm biased when it comes to determine what's "strange" and whats not but I'm sure you're all humans as well and therefore agree with me most of the time). In the liquid soup normally known as "the ocean", you can find all kinds of amazing creatures; many that outraces your imagination. The up to 3.3 m long Goblin shark (Mitsukurina owstoni) looks like something a juvenile H.P. Lovecraft could come up with. Being mainly pink, it differs from the other sharks. Another striking character is the long snout (for sensing its way around in the dark) and its intimidating jaws, so it might be settling to know that it lives in deep water far away from your toes. An anatomic remarc is the size of this shark's liver, which can weigh as much as 25% of its body mass. The reason for this is not known. Perhaps it likes to take a pint now and then.


What's in a name? That which we call a fly

Image taken from http://www.ars.usda.gov/

I've always been facinated by names. When I had a "native american"-period as a juvenile, I used to imagine what name I might have. Coming up with such wonderful names as "raging thunder", I am quite happy that my re-babtism was inoficially performed in my girlroom and that I still go under a "normal" swedish name. Still, I'm intruged by names; by their background and purpose. Therefore I reacted when I just encountered the phorid fly's latin name - Apocephalus paraponerae - that basically states that this organism decapitates ants. When an ant of the species Paraponera clavata gets injured or is involved in a fight, female phorid flies are attracted and starts to lay eggs in the ant's head so that, eventually, the head of the ant falls of. Imagine the horror movies that you could make out of this concept!

Image taken from http://fireant.ifas.ufl.edu

Source: Pheromones and animal behaviour : communication by smell and taste (book)
by Wyatt Tristam


Kill 'em all!

Image revised from http://www.newscientist.com/

Life ain't easy. There's always a threat lurking around the corner, whether you're a human or a bacteria. Therefore, there are as many defence mechanisms as there are species (if not more!). The poor Japanese honeybees (Apis cerana japonica) are subject of the giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia japonica), who - upon finding and entering a honeybee nest - will destroy it and take the honeybee broods to feed their own larvae. Brutal! In Homo sapien conflicts, destruction of villages and cities are known throughout history but I've never heard of soldiers taking babys to feed their own.

Of course, since evolution is as magnificent as it is, the honeybees have evolved a defence mechanism and it is just as brutaly remarkable as the hornets attack. When the hornet arrives to a nest and marks it (with a pheromone), guard bees starts to send out signals (also pheromones) that makes all bees near the entrance to retreat into the nest. Then, more than 1000 worker bees gather just outside the entrance, and if a hornet tries to enter, the workers form a huge ball that surrounds the intruder. The hornet becomes marked with venom and secretion so that all workers knows that they should focus their attack energy on it. The most brutal thing is how the hornet is finally destroyed: the swarm around it generates a lot of heat (it can reach up to 47 degrees C) so it is basically roasted to death. Now, how's that for a defence!

Image revised from http://sequentialscribbles.blogspot.com/2008/01/and-you-thought-wasps-were-bastards.html

Pheromones and animal behaviour : communication by smell and taste (book)
by Wyatt Tristam


Nothing of value!

Yep, I suck at keeping this blog somewhat alive and vivid. This time my excuses are a weekend in Budapest followed by a kick-off 2-day visit (for my research school) in the north of Scania. To further stir up my mental status, my 14 year old dog had to be put to sleep (due to old age) and my cat feels neglected and therefore have started to urinate and scratch at my boyfriends expensive couch.

WELL, nevermind that. I will try to be stoic.
At least I was able to shoot some cool animals in Budapest. So here's one I'm quite satisfied with. Since I just came home from a crayfish party at my department I won't write anything of value. Instead I encourage you to surf on to this site or this site and read something about the so called "vampire moth". That's a name you won't forget!


Little oh pretentious me

Image revised from http://user.it.uu.se/~svens/larverna/normal.html

I've just started a new era in my life; an era that in its simplest form probably will be called "all work no play", or just "my PhD". During the previosly five years of my life I've stumbled forward in my education and now I've landed in a position that I couldn't have imagined even a year before BUT it is a position that fits me perfectly. I will work with "white biology", I will work with bioinformatics, I will work with genetics, I will work with evolution, I will work with creatures on six legs and I will work in the most beautiful surroundings in the natural science part of Lund University.

Basically, I will try to penetrate the evolution of novel pheromone systems in moths. Hopefully, I will be able to get a hold on peculiar curiosities and be able to take some cool photos to post on this blog. But until then I will try to bombard this little dead end of the web with other things that I find interesting.

Image revised from http://gallery.photo.net/photo/4318247-md.jpg

Check out this link for more pictures, in the same theme as the first, that will make your skin itch!


Visions of the hog

Seriously speaking, t h a t beast makes me uncomfortable...

Uppnosed tigerrr

(I found this image in an old map in my old computer so I can't give you any background or source)

Eating for life

Image revised from http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/thematerialworld_20060511.shtml

Being a living creature, your main issue - whether you like it or not - is to mature and survive long enough to produce offsprings. Internet-using animals (usually known as humans) are lucky to have evolved to a point where its beneficial to have living and caring parents, monogamous partners that like to see you happy and healthy, and to enjoy being part of a continous social Homo sapiens-pack. Many species aren't that lucky.

For example, the limbless amphibian Boulengerula taitanus starts its life by eating its mother. Actually, the teeth of this little beeing have evolved perfectly for this task. The mother survives this horrifying motherhood state (when one layer is eaten, there's another one underneith), and will live to see her gene pool grow up and perhaps enjoy one more round of being breakfast, lunch and dinner all at once.

Then, we have sexual cannibalism. The females of Latrodectus hasselti (a subspecies of the Black widows) likes to end the copulation by devouring the male. If he manages to leave the scene without being eaten, he's still doomed because of all the injuries that comes with the sexual procedure. Beats snuff-movies both in gore and intelligence.

Image revised from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Red_back_spider_closeup.jpg

The mating behaviour of the Mantis religiosa (the praying mantid) starts off with a very cautious male closing in on a female. The odds are kind of against him; he's at a 31% risk of having to leave this world after having accomplished a mating. Paradoxially he's more attracted to larger females that - if they're hungry - further lower his chance of getting out alive.

Image revised from http://damecarcass.blogspot.com/2008/03/hunger-in-living-room.html

Sources: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/04/0412_060412_flesh_eating.html http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/ZO9920001.htm


The gene that Fearnot did not have

Image revised from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070725152040.htm

I'm a horror litterature nerd. During my pre-teen summer holidays - when all my friends were out in the sun - I was at the library searching for anything spooky, written down by masters such as E. A. Poe, M. R. James, W. H. Hodgson ect. The only thing that kept me from discovering the macabre world of horror movies were infact my dear mother. She doesn't think highly of "evil flattering" so whenever I pointed my finger towards Tales from the crypt, Salems lot, or Evil dead when we were in a video store she wrinkled her nose and promptly said no.

Of course, later on I was able to get the movies myself. By the age of 12, I had a friend who kindly enough invited me over now and then for late nights with popcorn and Braindead. So early on I was accustomed to bloody flicks and gore galore.

Therefore, the findings of a gene that is linked to “why horror films make some people scream in terror while others may simply laugh” is hard to apply on people with the same horror background as me. The gene is involved in dopamine regulation, and the carriers of this variation generally response more dramatically to unpleasant images, due to the regulation affecting the startle reflex. It is completely new in evolution (which means that no other primate has it) and could be of some advantage. I would guess that being a stone age Homo sapiens, it would be better to be scared and run away than to stay and wrestle a sable toothed kittie.

If you're wondering about my title, it's from one of The storyteller episodes - Fearnot! I was obsessed with that tv-show when I were a kid. I have to buy that DVD-box soon...



Yummy, yummy, yummy I got love in my tummy!

Image revised from http://morningnoonandnight.wordpress.com/2007/09/20/honey-does-not-spoil/

Appearantly, it's 12 little bugs, that bug around in the stomach of the honey bee, which makes it able for honey to live up to the paradox of being both sweet and seductive yet healthy and antibacterial. Without the bacteria in their tummies, the bees are left without a immune system and are therefore an easy target for outer, wicked forces. Out of the 12 bacteria, four belongs to the gram-positive genus of Bifidobacteria, while the other eight belongs to the Lactobacillus genus. It would be soooooo cooooool to know how they've evolved along with the bees and how their genome looks like!

Source: http://hd.se/skane/2008/08/12/helsingborgsforskare-har-loest/

It's the inside that matters...

Image revised from http://twi-ny.com/twiny.01.04.06.html

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I took the advantage of living close to Copenhagen (we live in the 3rd largest city in Sweden; Malmö) and went to see Bodies - the exhibition, which is currently on display for all those willing to pay a couple of danish crowns (150 dkr, but since I still have a student licence I only had to pay 120 dkr - jie-ha!). The exhibition shows the body, that we all posess (surprising, huh!), from an inside perspective. By removing all bodily fluids and replacing them with a polymerizing substance all cells are kept in place and thus it's able to reveal how organs, tendons, muscles, nervs ect., are organized. This creates an extraoirdinary view of the human body that I bet you've never seen before (unless you're Jeffery Dahmer or something).

Image revised from http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/photos/popup.asp?gtitle=Bodies%3A%20The%20Exhibition&SubID=1823&page=0&css=gtitle.css&pubdate=09/27/06

The only semi-negative comment to BODIES that strucked me during my walk through the exhibition is that I'm a bit tired of they way that muséums always presents things rooting from live sciences. It's always short "this is how it is"- and "scientist has found"-notes that presents the objects on display. This doesn't really invite the visitors to question facts any further, which really is the machinery that keeps life science going. If the visitors are encouraged to parcipitate in any activity regarding the exhibition, it's always to conclude something that is said rather than something that invokes curiosity to know more. I may be naive but I believe that science could "catch" more attention and draw more minds to the field if we had a more humble and encouraging approach when showing off some gleam of findings to the people. Just a thought!
Having said that, here are some more images from the exhibition:

Image revised from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/30/nyregion/30bodies.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Image revised from http://www.typicallyspanish.com/news/publish/article_13616.shtml

Image revised from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/08/photogalleries/cadavers_exhibition_museum/