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Living world news archive: July-September 2008

Martialis heureka
'Ant from Mars' found in Amazon jungle
(Sep 16, 2008)

A unique, blind, subterranean, predatory ant has been discovered in the Amazon rainforest. On first sight, legend of evolutionary biology and ant expert Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University quipped that it was so unusual that it must have come from Mars. Unfortunately, the specimens dried up and crumbled before they could be formally described.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Bumblebee and robotoic crab spider. Credit: L. Chittka
Bumblebees outwit robotic spiders
(Sep 5, 2008)

Scientists have found that bumblebees learn from their "near-death" encounters with crab spiders and adapt their future foraging strategies. They watched real bees in an artificial meadow – containing yellow "flowers" and robotic crab spiders. Bees that had been "captured" spent longer inspecting flowers during subsequent foraging trips.

Read more. Source: BBC

Tridacna costata. Credit: M. Naumann
New giant clam species discovered
(Aug 30, 2008)

A new species of giant clam has been discovered in the Red Sea. The fossil record suggests that, about 125,000 years ago, the species Tridacna costata accounted for more than 80% of local giant clams. The species may now be critically endangered, researchers report in Current Biology journal.

Read more. Source: BBC

magpie. Credit: BBC
Magpie 'can recognise reflection'
(Aug 20, 2008)

Magpies can recognise themselves in a mirror, scientists have found – the first time self-recognition has been observed in a non-mammal. Until relatively recently, humans were thought to be uniquely self-aware. Scientists now know that most chimpanzees and orangutans can recognise their own reflections.

Read more. Source: BBC

tail-walking dolphin
Wild dolphins tail-walk on water
(Aug 19, 2008)

A wild dolphin is apparently teaching other members of her group to walk on their tails, a behaviour usually seen only after training in captivity. The tail-walking group lives along the south Australian coast near Adelaide. One of them spent a short time after illness in a dolphinarium 20 years ago and may have picked up the trick there.

Read more. Source: BBC

world's smallest snake
World's smallest snake discovered
(Aug 4, 2008)

The world's smallest snake, averaging just 10cm (4 inches) and as thin as a spaghetti noodle, has been discovered on the Caribbean island of Barbados. The snake, found beneath a rock in a tiny fragment of threatened forest, is thought to be at the very limit of how small a snake can evolve to be. Females produce only a single, massive egg – and the young hatch at half of their adult body weight.

Read more. Source: BBC

deep-sea fish caught at great depth
Live fish caught at record depth
(Aug 1, 2008)

A live deep-sea fish has been caught at a record depth of 2,300m on the hot vents of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Three shrimp species were also pulled to the surface, researchers report in the journal Deep-Sea Research. Scientists have engineered a new device that allows recovery of live animals under their natural pressure at greater depths than previously achieved.

Read more. Source: BBC


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