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Monday, December 12, 2011

Oldest #Viruses #Infected #Insects 300 Million Years Ago

Viruses are packets of DNA in a protein shell. They can't reproduce on their own so take over DNA and protein making machinery of a host to survive. By comparing the genes of bracoviruses that live in parasitic wasps with those of free living insect viruses that haven't inserted their genes into a host genome called nudiviruses, and to their cousins the baculoviruses researchers determined that the two groups split about 310 million years ago. This is as old as insects themselves so insect viruses were already present from the beginning from the evolution of insects. Viruses have been found to infect every type of life; there are even viruses that infect viruses. 

#Bees Head For The Hills To #Mate

We know little about bee's mating behaviour but 'hilltopping', when males and females seek mates  on the tops of hills,  has been observed before in butterflies, flies, and wasps. Professor Dave Goulson from the University of Stirling noticed large numbers of bees  in the hills near the university.  He presumed they weren't foraging but looking for mates as the hills are windswept and flowerless. However nobody seems to have told the females. Though male bumblebees from four species were found females didn't seem to be taking advantage of the gathering. 

Man-Eating #Mushrooms #death

Artist Jae Rhim Lee believes we should think about the way we deal with death in a new way. Instead of embalming our deceased loved ones and doing everything possible “to preserve the body and protect it from the environment, with the idea that decomposition is something to be avoided,” Lee says the Western burial ritual distances us from death and our own mortality. Her suggestion is that we embrace decomposition and so has designed a prototype of a burial suit that can be seeded with mushroom’s spores that have been specifically trained to digest the tissues of the human body.

School #Bugs

School Bugs
As children across the country settle into the new school year,  hundreds of children in a school, and up to 30 in each class, the risk of disease increases. Most parents will be aware of the more mundane colds,  headlice, chickenpox and conjunctivitis, but there are more frightening sounding diseases that are doing the rounds too. The Guardian has put together a timely guide to help worried parents giving all the facts about scarlet fever, threadworms, slapped cheek syndrome and hand, foot and mouth.

#Bats Keep Their Friends Close

It has been discovered that although bats change where they sleep within the colony every few days, they keep the same bats around them, forming tight social groups. These long term relationships can last for years. Studying the bats behaviour, researchers are hoping to predict how diseases might spread within the roost as a small proportion of bats carry rabies like viruses, and can also be the source of emerging diseases. Chinese bats are thought to have been responsible for the SARS virus outbreak.

Friday, December 9, 2011

What The Well Dressed #Mouse Is Wearing This Season #wildlife

Scientists at Stanford University have developed a tiny but powerful microscope that can fit on a mouses head and peer inside their brains without interfering with their actions. Previously studying mouse brains involved the mouse being held down or at least having their head restrained. With this new system the mice are free to behave naturally and freely. The microscope that looks a like a hi tech top hat could also be mass produced cheaply.

Exploding #Ants! #amazing #wildlife

In order to protect their colony from attack the ants of Borneo are willing to make the supreme sacrifice. They will grab an enemy ant and expel a lethal sticky substance that kills both attacker & defender. While all ants have glands in their jaws to release chemicals in alarm or defence, but these ants have filled most of their bodies with these secretions.  The insects operate on a hair-trigger; their bodies  are so swollen with the liquid that the merest touch will rupture the abdomen walls. 

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