Weevil, with a extremely long snout
National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Technique: Reflected Light (4x)
This is a Jewel Moth larvae. They sort of like a cross between a catepillar and a slug.
This this gorgeous thing turns into a flying moth! It looks like a gummy candy hahaha
Photo via @sciam
#biology #insects #bugs #animals #nature #picoftheday
The real problem of humanity is the following: we have paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and god-like technology.
— E.O. Wilson (via metaplasticity)
Study of amphibious walking fish may show how creatures have evolved on land
Science marches on. Sometimes, it does so on fins.
Research conducted at McGill University studied the effect of a lifetime of walking on a certain type of fish. Yes, fish.
The results, say their paper in the journal Nature, suggest much about the evolution of complex pieces of anatomy such as arms and legs.
“What we wanted to pin down was: if you change the environment of this fish, does it change its behaviour or does its anatomy change?” said Emily Standen, now at the University of Ottawa.
Her team started with a fish called Polypterus. They have both lungs and gills and can live in water or on land. They also have lobe-like fins, positioned so they can pull themselves awkwardly forward as if with stunted arms.
“Some people might say they’re not as pretty as trout, but I think they’re amazing,” Standen said.
She and her colleagues took two groups of Polypterus, raising one in water and one on land. They found that by the end of the experiment, the land-raised group had indeed become more efficient walkers than their aquatic counterparts.
But more interestingly, the landlubbers’ bodies had also changed. Bones in their fins had grown beefier. And just a subtle hint of what might be glancingly referred to as a neck had also emerged.
Even more interestingly, the changes seen in the walking group looked a lot like the changes seen in the fossil record as fish slowly evolved for terrestrial life.
“All of these changes mirror what we see in the fossil record,” said Standen. “You see these changes in the bones suddenly over evolutionary time, mirrored by what’s going on in this one individual.”
Environmental changes had produced physical changes — a key finding regarding what scientists call plasticity, the “wiggle room” allowed for in every organism’s DNA.
“What it’s telling us is the plasticity, or the variation that’s hidden within all of us, relates to the evolutionary process because what it allows animals to do is exist in novel environments,” Standen said.
“When you change an environment and (an organism) responds in this plastic way, adaptive selection and evolution has something upon which to act.”
The whole issue of plasticity is a hot one for evolutionary biologists, Standen said. The amount of its influence over evolution or how traits that appear in individuals become “fixed” into an entire species is still mysterious.
But it could help explain why evolution can come up with solutions so quickly.
“If you’ve got this variation within you, you don’t have to wait for random advantageous mutation to occur to allow you to do something new,” Standen said.
“You can use your plasticity to do that new thing, evolution can then act on that existing building block and that combination allows you to explain how really complex changes can occur in a really short time.”
Standen said she hopes to be able to keep using Polypterus to answer those questions.
“It is a dream to be able to breed these, to be able to take it to the next step and do generation after generation and see how far does this go and how fast does this go. Can you get this to fix, somehow?
“It is fascinating.”
How Lizards regenerate their tails: Researchers discover genetic ‘recipe’
By understanding the secret of how lizards regenerate their tails, researchers may be able to develop ways to stimulate the regeneration of limbs in humans. Now, a team of researchers from Arizona State University is one step closer to solving that mystery. The scientists have discovered the genetic “recipe” for lizard tail regeneration, which may come down to using genetic ingredients in just the right mixture and amounts.
An interdisciplinary team of scientists used next-generation molecular and computer analysis tools to examine the genes turned on in tail regeneration. The team studied the regenerating tail of the green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis), which, when caught by a predator, can lose its tail and then grow it back.
"Lizards basically share the same toolbox of genes as humans," said lead author Kenro Kusumi, professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences and associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "Lizards are the most closely-related animals to humans that can regenerate entire appendages. We discovered that they turn on at least 326 genes in specific regions of the regenerating tail, including genes involved in embryonic development, response to hormonal signals and wound healing.”
Other animals, such as salamanders, frog tadpoles and fish, can also regenerate their tails, with growth mostly at the tip. During tail regeneration, they all turn on genes in what is called the ‘Wnt pathway’ – a process that is required to control stem cells in many organs, such as the brain, hair follicles and blood vessels. However, lizards have a unique pattern of tissue growth that is distributed throughout the tail.
"Regeneration is not an instant process," said Elizabeth Hutchins, a graduate student in ASU’s molecular and cellular biology program and co-author of the paper. "In fact, it takes lizards more than 60 days to regenerate a functional tail. Lizards form a complex regenerating structure with cells growing into tissues at a number of sites along the tail.”
"We have identified one type of cell that is important for tissue regeneration," said Jeanne Wilson-Rawls, co-author and associate professor with ASU’s School of Life Sciences. "Just like in mice and humans, lizards have satellite cells that can grow and develop into skeletal muscle and other tissues."
"Using next-generation technologies to sequence all the genes expressed during regeneration, we have unlocked the mystery of what genes are needed to regrow the lizard tail," said Kusumi. "By following the genetic recipe for regeneration that is found in lizards, and then harnessing those same genes in human cells, it may be possible to regrow new cartilage, muscle or even spinal cord in the future."
The researchers hope their findings will help lead to discoveries of new therapeutic approaches to spinal cord injuries, repairing birth defects and treating diseases such as arthritis.
The research team included Kusumi, Hutchins, Wilson-Rawls and Alan Rawls, as well as Dale DeNardo from ASU School of Life Sciences; Rebecca Fisher from ASU School of Life Sciences and the University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix; Matthew Huentelman from the Translational Genomic Research Institute; and Juli Wade from Michigan State University. This research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and Arizona Biomedical Research Commission.
Each radiated tortoises (Geochelone radiata) from Madagascar has a totally unique pattern.
This tortoise has the basic “tortoise” body shape, which consists of the high-domed carapace, a blunt head, and elephantine feet. The legs, feet, and head are yellow except for a variably sized black patch on top of the head.
The carapace of the radiated tortoise is brilliantly marked with yellow lines radiating from the center of each dark plate of the shell, hence its name. This “star” pattern is more finely detailed and intricate than the normal pattern of other star-patterned tortoise species, such as G. elegans of India. The radiated tortoise is also larger than G. elegans, and the scutes of the carapace are smooth, and not raised up into a bumpy, pyramidal shape as is commonly seen in the latter species. There is slight sexual dimorphism. Compared to females, male radiated tortoises usually have longer tails and the notches beneath their tails are more noticeable. The Radiated Tortoise is endemic to Madagascar.