Here are a few recent arthropod related news items from around the web:
- Sean Carroll has a nice piece up at the New York Times where he talks about antifreeze adaptations in arthropods, including springtails. Frost protection is a powerful selective pressure and it has led to the independent evolution of a variety of strategies for surviving the cold.
- Science Daily has an article about the social insect superorganism concept. This postulates that large social insect colonies, such as bees, ants, and termites, behave similarly to a single organism made up of a multitude of highly specialized component organisms. They liken this to how most organisms are made up of a multitude of specialized cells. This article references a new paper where researchers have,
…taken the same mathematical models that predict lifespan, growth and reproduction in individual organisms and used them to predict these features in whole colonies. By analyzing data from 168 different social insect species including ants, termites, bees and wasps, the authors found that the lifespan, growth rates and rates of reproduction of whole colonies when considered as superorganisms were nearly indistinguishable from individual organisms.
Its an interesting idea, but I would like to see what these mathematical models actually entail. The paper isn’t up online yet, but I’ll take a look at it when it comes out.
- The BBC has a slideshow up of some “strange” marine life photographs. There is one of a hermit crab with a protective anemone on its back and some photos of mollusk hermaphrodite mating trains. Also, one barnacle photo has an amazing non sequitur of a caption:
A report will be released today by the trusts outlining how they hope to return UK waters to a thriving marine environment within a generation. Barnacles have the longest penis in relation to body size of any animal: the organ is ten times its height.
Logical segues? We don’t need no stinkin’ segues. Let’s talk about barnacle pricks!