Okay, so 1) this spider (called Bagheera kiplingi after the Jungle Book) is the single vegetarian species out of 40,000 species of spider. “The jumping arachnid, which is 5–6mm long, has developed a taste for the tips of the acacia plants – known as Beltian bodies – which are packed full of protein.”
2) Beltian bodies are no good to the acacia plant, they’re not like buds or shoots or anything. The acacia is a type of myrmecophyte – a plant that has a symbiotic relationship with ants. It grows Beltian bodies for the ants to eat, and oversized thorns for them to hollow out and live in, and the ants aggressively attack any grazing animals or creeping vines that threaten the acacia. Or any spiders that try to steal the Beltian bodies.
3) “The spiders live on the plants – but way out on the tips of the old leaves, where the ants don’t spend a lot of time, because there isn’t any food on those leaves.”
But when they get hungry, the spiders head to the newer leaves, and get ready to run the ant gauntlet.
“They wait for an opening – they watch the ants move around, and they watch to see that there are not any ants in the local area that they are going after.
“And then they zip in and grab one of these Beltian bodies and then clip it off, hold it in their mouths and run away.
“And then they retreat to one of the undefended parts of the plant to eat it.” Full article
“Hunting for food, ants roam haphazardly. But when they find it, they use celestial cues, perhaps from the sun, to head back to their nests more or less in a straight line – rather than retracing the tortuous journeys they’d made on their outbound searches.
So how does an ant know when to stop running?
It must not be based on seeing the nest entrance, because a returning ant rarely runs straight down into its hole. Instead, when they think they’re in the right area, they stop running, make a U-turn, and pace back and forth until they find it.”
Scientists showed that they ‘count’ their steps by giving some ants stilts and amputating the last segment off the legs of other ants (ants’ legs can’t feel anything because they have to walk across boiling sand). The ants with stilts overshot their nest by 50% and the ants with stumps only got halfway home.
“Interestingly, the ants quickly adjusted to their new leg lengths. The next day the modified ants were allowed to engage in normal foraging, and they returned to the nest as well as the unmodified ants.” Full article
“The bird is inky black from the tip of its comb to the end of its claws, with blue-black skin, jet-black eyes, and a black tongue. It is covered in shimmering metallic black feathers, and even its internal organs are black.”
Controversial but interesting! I’m gonna try and summarise this long read on all the stuff that’s missing from the conversation:
There are many many pollinators, honeybees aren’t even that great it.
Industrial agriculture relies on bundling up pollinators and taking them from farm to farm:
“Domesticated landscapes bloom all at once, and die all at once. If you’re a pollinator, that means that you’ve got a ton of food, and then you have no food”—not a sustainable living situation for an insect. “We’ve created a system where we need to bring in an outside pollinator. And the honeybee, being stackable, is what we selected.”
STACKABLE. So yeah, we rely on honeybees because they’re portable.
Only 5-10% of honeybees are wild, the rest are part of this industry.
Our much-talked-about reliance on honeybees is not natural, it’s a result of a disastrous lack of biodiversity.
Don’t save the bee, become less dependent on the bee!
Lack of pollinator diversity is a bigger threat than Colony Collapse Disorder.
Okay obviously there’s a LOT I haven’t included here, but oh my gosh, CONTRARIAN DELIGHT. Read the full article.
Dragonfly wings are covered in irregular nanospikes, which bacteria get stuck on and then tear themselves open when they try to move. Scientists are experimenting with antibacterial textiles that mimic this texture. Full article
Boxer crabs (or pom-pom crabs) go through their lives with an anemone in each claw. (The anemones have defensive stinging cells.) If you take one of their pom-poms away, they’ll induce asexual reproduction in the remaining one by tearing it in half. If you take both away, they’ll steal one off another crab and do the same thing, so they always have two at all times. Full article
“We have created an ecosystem in which intelligence is prized above all else.The strength or endurance of the wolf could not save it from rifles; the rapid reproduction of the rabbit protects it only where its habitat remains intact.
The survivors are the bin animals: the ones who can extract resources from our waste products, who can outfox (so to speak) any attempts at capturing or controlling them. They are the raccoons, the bears, the rats, the pigeons, the crows, the foxes, the ibises and the gulls.” Keep Reading