It’s All In The Family – The Naked Mole Rat

Posted November 14, 2010 by theinfinitevariety
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Throughout the history of natural science, zoologists have pottered around happily cataloguing and describing the varied groups of organisms that inhabit our planet. By looking at physical features, behaviour and now DNA analysis this form of taxonomy helps us to classify and clarify how everything we see around us fits into place. This process is relatively straight forward but nature has a habit of occasionally throwing something up in our faces that leads biologists walking away scratching their heads. The Naked Mole Rat is one such creature. Read the rest of this post »

Dropping a bomb on creationists – The Bombardier Beetle

Posted March 26, 2010 by theinfinitevariety
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Creationists are always trying to catch scientists out. Whether it is supposed gaps in the fossil record or our present lack of understanding regarding the origins of the universe, the religious right are quick and eager to fill every unknown that scientists are working on with the words ‘God’ and ‘design’ as alternative ‘explanations’. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution comes under attack perhaps more than any other scientific theory due to the direct contradiction between the biblical creation myths (Adam and Eve and the Fall of Man) and the overwhelming evidence that our species share a common ancestry with the other great apes: chimps, orang-utans and gorillas. Read the rest of this post »

Spare Ribs, Anyone? – The Iberian Ribbed Newt

Posted March 9, 2010 by theinfinitevariety
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Throughout the natural world both animals and plants have developed an immeasurable variety of techniques to deter predators from making them their next meal. Plants grow thorns, jellyfish drag stinging tentacles and snakes rattle their tails and bare poisonous fangs, and amphibians are no exception. However, none are as masochistically defensive as the Iberian (or Spanish) Ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles waltl). Read the rest of this post »

The Good, the Bad and the…Prawn? – The Pistol Shrimp

Posted March 2, 2010 by theinfinitevariety
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For Infinite Variety’s first post I thought I would start off with something very special. The pistol shrimp (snapping shrimp or alpheidae) is a subfamily of caridea (which includes other shrimp and prawns) that is characterized by having one enlarged claw capable of emitting a loud snapping sound. It is a diverse family covering over 600 species and can be found in almost every corner of the ocean, inhabiting self-dug burrows in coral reefs and submerged seagrass flats. Here in these burrows, some members of this unusual branch of shrimp frequently bunk with goby fish, forming an unlikely symbiotic relationship; while the pistol shrimp constructs and maintains the den, the goby fish –with its far superior eyesight– alerts his roommate of any approaching danger with distinguishing flicks of the tail when they then both hide away in the safety of their corralled fortress. However, it isn’t the relationship of this odd couple that we’re interested in but the peculiar weapon that the pistol shrimp wields. Read the rest of this post »