Nature is wild

The Corinthian

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I thought it'd be good to have a thread discussing and sharing all the incredible things you learn of in nature (is this the right forum)? So to kick things off...


Dung beetles use the light from the Milky Way for direction & navigation

Randomly, I stumbled upon an article which detailed how dung beetles use light from the Milky Way to for orientation and direction...which is mind blowing!

https://theconversation.com/scienti...-use-the-milky-way-to-hold-their-course-75666

At night, as visual cues become harder to detect, this process becomes more challenging. Some can use the light of the moon but one insect, the nocturnal dung beetle Scarabaeus satyrus, uses light from the Milky Way to orient itself. To find out exactly how this process works, my colleagues and I constructed an artificial Milky Way, using LEDs, to test the beetles’ abilities. We found that they rely on the difference in brightness between different parts of the Milky Way to work out which way to go.



When whales reach their end of their life and sink to the ocean bed, they provide the basis for an intelligent ocean ecosystem

When whales die and sink to the ocean floor, their carcass provide nutrients and sustain the ecosystem that exists on the ocean floor. This is called whale fall. It's fascinating.

Different stages in the decomposition of a whale carcass support a succession of marine biological communities. Scavengers consume the soft tissue in a matter of months. Organic fragments, or detritus, enrich the sediments nearby for over a year.

The whale skeleton can support rich communities for years to decades, both as a hard substrate (or surface) for invertebrate colonization and as a source of sulfides from the decay of organic compounds of whale bones. Microbes live off of the energy released from these chemical reactions and form the basis of ecosystems for as long as the food source lasts.
https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/whale-fall.html


The above video is one of the stages of whale fall, and you can see the carcass teeming with other life.

They revisited the same location a year later - shown below:








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Would be interested to see what amazing phenomena exist in nature that isn't common knowledge.
 

Nani Nana

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Hydra (/ˈhaɪdrə/ HY-drə) is a genus of small, fresh-water organisms of the phylum Cnidaria and class Hydrozoa. They are native to the temperate and tropical regions.[2][3] Biologists are especially interested in Hydra because of their regenerative ability – they do not appear to die of old age, or to age at all.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydra_(genus)
 

Cheimoon

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Probably a little better known, but I'll bring up tardigrades, who are also know as water bears or moss piglets - who are super cool. Here are some Wikipedia bits: they are tiny eight-legged creatures that grow to about 0.5 mm. They are short and plump, with four pairs of legs, each ending in claws (usually four to eight) or suction disks. Tardigrades are prevalent in mosses and lichens and feed on plant cells, algae, and small invertebrates. There are 1,300 known species of them, and they are found everywhere in Earth's biosphere, from mountaintops to the deep sea and mud volcanoes,[ nd from tropical rainforests to the Antarctic.

The fascinating bit is that tardigrades are among the most resilient animals known, with individual species able to survive extreme conditions that would quickly kill most other known forms of life - such as exposure to extreme temperatures, extreme pressures (both high and low), air deprivation, radiation, dehydration, and starvation. They have even survived exposure to outer space. Not kidding! This is what the experiment was like:
In September 2007, dehydrated tardigrades were taken into low Earth orbit on the FOTON-M3 mission carrying the BIOPAN astrobiology payload. For 10 days, groups of tardigrades, some of them previously dehydrated, some of them not, were exposed to the hard vacuum of outer space, or vacuum and solar UV radiation. Back on Earth, more than 68% of the subjects protected from solar UV radiation were reanimated within 30 minutes following rehydration, although subsequent mortality was high; many of these produced viable embryos. In contrast, hydrated samples exposed to the combined effect of vacuum and full solar UV radiation had significantly reduced survival, with only three subjects of Milnesium tardigradum surviving. Also, it was found that the space vacuum did not have a significant effect on egg-laying in either R. coronifer or M. tardigradum. However, M. tardigradum exposed to UV radiation had a lower egg laying rate. In May 2011, Italian scientists sent tardigrades on board the International Space Station along with extremophiles on STS-134, the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour. Their conclusion was that microgravity and cosmic radiation "did not significantly affect survival of tardigrades in flight, and stated that tardigrades represent a useful animal for space research."
And here is one of your new favorite creatures:
 

Nani Nana

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The eyes of the mantis shrimp are mounted on mobile stalks and can move independently of each other. They are thought to have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom and have the most complex visual system ever discovered. Compared with the three types of photoreceptor cells that humans possess in their eyes, the eyes of a mantis shrimp have between 12 and 16 types of photoreceptor cells. Furthermore, some of these shrimp can tune the sensitivity of their long-wavelength colour vision to adapt to their environment. This phenomenon, called "spectral tuning", is species-specific.
 

Nani Nana

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The lyrebird's syrinx is the most complexly-muscled of the passerines(songbirds), giving the lyrebird extraordinary ability, unmatched in vocal repertoire and mimicry. Lyrebirds render with great fidelity the individual songs of other birds and the chatter of flocks of birds, and also mimic other animals such as koalasand dingoes. The lyrebird is capable of imitating almost any sound. Lyrebirds have been recorded mimicking human sounds such as a mill whistle, a cross-cut saw, chainsaws, car engines and car alarms, fire alarms, rifle-shots, camera shutters, dogs barking, crying babies, music, mobile phone ring tones, and even the human voice.
 

Wibble

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Some of that footage was shot just North of Townsville in Qld in a popular tourist spot and that bird who mimicked the camera could still be heard there when I lived there in the early 90's. The other bird used was one raised in captivity I think so it had a much wider range of sounds than one would in the wild.
 

Wibble

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Barnacles mating - the longest penis in proportion to body size of any organism apparently.

A duck's penis

An Echidna's penis - only 2 of the 4 heads can function at once apparently.
 

Salt Bailly

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Barnacles mating - the longest penis in proportion to body size of any organism apparently.

A duck's penis

An Echidna's penis - only 2 of the 4 heads can function at once apparently.
I bet some dinosaur dongs were a sight to behold.
 

Rasendori

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Nepenthes lowii

Nepenthes Iowii Is a pitcher plant, a group of carnivorous plants, that is found in Malaysian Borneo. . The pitchers of both Nepenthes lowii and N. macrophylla get a majority of their nutrient needs not by trapping and digesting arthropods but instead from the feces of tree shrews. They have been coined toilet pitchers as they exhibit specialized adaptations that allow them to collect feces. Tree shrews sit on the mouth of the pitcher and lap up sugary secretions from the lid. As they eat, they poop down into the pitcher, providing the plant with ample food rich in nitrogen. Digestion is a relatively slow process so much of the poop that enters the pitcher sticks around for a bit.


During a 2013 bryophyte survey in Borneo, a small colony of poop moss was discovered growing in the pitcher of a N. lowii. This obviously fascinated botanists who quickly made the connection between the coprophagous habits of these two species. On a return trip, more poop moss was discovered growing in a N. macrophylla pitcher. This population was fertile, indicating that it was able to successfully complete its life cycle within the pitcher environment. It appears that these two toilet pitchers offer ample niche space for this tiny, poop-loving moss


Relies on rain to push the feces down. In the meantime, its not uncommon to see it hanging. The excrement hanging on the wall allows other creatures to see opportunities, including our protagonist today, a special kind of moss.


This moss was found to grow well in the cages of N. lowii and N. macrophylla in the field surgery test in Borneo. The leaves are compact and green. It is full of interest, and it can actually grow propagules.
This proves that it didn't happen to grow here, it didn't walk in the wind like their kind, and accidentally drifted here, but it liked the environment. After identification, this is indeed a very special moss (scientific name: Tayloria octoblepharum Splachnaceae). It belongs to the Splachnaceae family. It is different from most mosses in the small and fresh style. They prefer to grow on feces or decaying corpses, and are called dung moss (dung moss).
Click Me - Dung Moss Images

The operation of the ecosystem is often like this. It affects the whole body. Nepenthes attracts tree shrews for feces, and the dung of tree shrews attracts fecal flies, and the flies bring moss spores on it. , The moss naturally settles on the feces. Therefore, the operation of the ecosystem has also brought about the development of biodiversity.


Bibliography:
https://min.news/en/news/dcd467fa558a80e9a91a3d92871ddc0f.html
https://wiki.nus.edu.sg/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=305170627
https://www.indefenseofplants.com/blog/tag/Nepenthes+lowii
http://blog.abmi.ca/2014/05/22/dung-mosses-masters-of-manipulation/#.YPXObehKhPY

P.s.
I thought it'd be good to have a thread discussing and sharing all the incredible things you learn of in nature (is this the right forum)? So to kick things off...
This is in the current events section. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I'm under the impression the correct place would be general-forum.64.
 

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Many* plants are pollinated by one specific species. As in, if that particular pollinator were to vanish, that plant would be in serious trouble all over the world.

There's a waterlily that's pollinated by a particular type of beetle. During peak pollination season, the water temperature at EXACTLY the right level around the entrance to the flower's cup causes the entrance to 'swell' open to just the right size to let adult beetles of this species wriggle through and then in the evening contracts and traps said beetles inside. Milimeters higher or lower - or if the water temperature is not exact - and this heat-related expansion of the entrance does not happen. The flower does this to so many beetles that the beetles just never leave and start mating with each other and gorging themselves on nectar and pollen inside the cup in a giant orgy lasting days, with a few newcomers squirming their way into the flower each night.

*The exact number is somewhere between one thousand and that point where you stop counting because you realize who needs the environment when you need GPUs and white sneakers.
 

Wibble

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From CBC:

Clever cockatoos are teaching each other how to open trash bins in Australia

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappen...how-to-open-trash-bins-in-australia-1.6121177

@Wibble - aren't you there? (It's in Sydney.)
I am and although I don't see that species of cockatoo every day (we tend to get white Correllas all the time) in my suburb they are all over Sydney and they are utter dicks of birds but highly amusing. Shouting, fighting and generally ripping shit up. My mate lived above a restaurant in central Sydney and used the canopy to put up a Christmas tree and hundreds of small Christmas lights. A bunch of Cockys flew in and systematically broke every bulb before flying off - their work done.
 

Cheimoon

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I am and although I don't see that species of cockatoo every day (we tend to get white Correllas all the time) in my suburb they are all over Sydney and they are utter dicks of birds but highly amusing. Shouting, fighting and generally ripping shit up. My mate lived above a restaurant in central Sydney and used the canopy to put up a Christmas tree and hundreds of small Christmas lights. A bunch of Cockys flew in and systematically broke every bulb before flying off - their work done.
Sounds like they are basically flying white raccoons! :lol:
 

The Corinthian

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Sponge-like fossil could be Earth’s earliest known animal

Fossil discovered in northwestern Canada could rewrite the early history of animal life — but some palaeontologists are not convinced it’s real.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41...twt_nat&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=nature

Most major groups of animals — including arthropods, molluscs and worms — first appear in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion, 541 million years ago. But according to a paper published today in Nature1, sponge fossils from northwestern Canada could be 350 million years older, significantly pushing back the date of Earth’s earliest-known animals.

The ancient discovery is igniting debate among palaeontologists, who have long contested when complex animal life first evolved.

“If I’m right, animals emerged long, long before the first appearance of traditional animal fossils,” says study author Elizabeth Turner, a sedimentary geologist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada. “That would mean there’s a deep back history of animals that just didn’t get preserved very well.”
Some interesting stuff in here about...err...horny sponges!

@Cheimoon - this is in your neck of the woods, pal.
 

Cheimoon

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Sponge-like fossil could be Earth’s earliest known animal

Fossil discovered in northwestern Canada could rewrite the early history of animal life — but some palaeontologists are not convinced it’s real.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41...twt_nat&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=nature



Some interesting stuff in here about...err...horny sponges!

@Cheimoon - this is in your neck of the woods, pal.
Only some 3-4,000km away! ;)

But yeah, interesting stuff. I'm anyway amazed how paleontologists can reconstruct the history of life on Earth from the fossil record. What with the messiness of geological strata and the incompleteness of the record, it's such an amazingly difficult puzzle. :)
 

The Corinthian

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Thought this was pretty interesting - microscopic look at a bee's stinger vs a needle.

 

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hungrywing

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MrMarcello

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More on the mantis shrimp, this goes into detail on the eyes. Also, a useless fact I've retained for many years is a snail can sleep for three years.

 

Cheimoon

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Also, a useless fact I've retained for many years is a snail can sleep for three years.
Similar sort of fun fact: if a woolly bear (the caterpillar of the isabella Tiger moth) hasn't matured enough the become a butterfly by winter, it will just let itself get completely frozen, defrost again in spring, and continue its development. In the north where it's cold.kost of the year, they can go multiple years like this before reaching the butterfly stage (link for quote):
Wikipedia said:
The isabella tiger moth can be found in many cold regions, including the Arctic. The banded woolly bear larva emerges from the egg in the fall and overwinters in its caterpillar form, when it literally freezes solid. First its heart stops beating, then its gut freezes, then its blood, followed by the rest of the body. It survives being frozen by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues. In the spring it thaws.
And speaking of butterflies: in the chrysalis stage, caterpillars do not gradually become butterflies by unfolding their wings or anything like that. Rather, they consume themselves and become a liquid mush, and then rebuild themselves as a butterfly. It's pretty insane! Here is a description (link):
Sciencing.com said:
The change inside the chrysalis is slow and gradual. The caterpillar’s body digests itself from the inside out.The caterpillar is attacked by the same sort of juices that it used in its earlier life to digest food. Many of the organs are hidden in the caterpillar and they take a new form within the chrysalis. The old body is broken down into imaginal cells but not all the tissues are destroyed. Some old tissues pass onto the insect's new body. One imaginal disk will become a wing and there are imiginal disks that form the legs, antennae and the other organs of the butterfly.

During the first three to four days, the chrysalis is a little bag filled with rich fluid. The cells use the fluid to grow and form a new body. Imaginal cells are undifferentiated and they can become any type of cell. Some parts of the caterpillars’ body are more or less unchanged, including the legs. Underneath a caterpillar’s skin the beginnings of wings form before it sheds its skin for the last time. Inside the chrysalis, the butterflies’ wings are fully formed. A butterfly's sucking mouth parts are formed from the caterpillar's chewing mouth parts.

The chrysalis loses nearly half of its weight because the metamorphosis consumes energy. During the transformation, the chrysalis cannot excrete or defecate. The waste products accumulate and there is nitrogenous waste that can be seen as a reddish-colored liquid under the butterfly after it emerges. Complete transformation takes about two weeks. Some species survive the winter in the chrysalis and the transformations take a couple of months. Moths goes through the same transformation but they form a cocoon instead of a chrysalis. A butterfly cocoon is a silk covering of a chrysalis.

A couple of days before the butterfly emerges, the chrysalis changes color, The butterfliy's patterns and color can be seen though the chrysalis. The butterfly breaks out of the protective chrysalis and pumps blood into its newly formed wings. Then it flies away.