Archive for March 2010

Dropping a bomb on creationists – The Bombardier Beetle

March 26, 2010

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. (more…)

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Spare Ribs, Anyone? – The Iberian Ribbed Newt

March 9, 2010

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). (more…)

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

March 2, 2010

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. (more…)