All posts by Heather Meech

Heather is a Master's candidate at North Carolina State University, where she researches natural resources and permaculture.

Stealth Bat

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Photo by Dr. Elizabeth Clare, Queen Mary University of London

Bugs don’t want to get eaten, so some of them finally wised up and learned to listen for bat echolocation. But the Pallas long-tongued bat found a way around that.

Bats use echolocation to track down their prey. Most bat echolocation consists of a series of rapid high pitched ultrasonic pulses, which some insects have learned to recognize and avoid. But scientists have discovered that the nectar-slurping Pallas long-tongued bat likes to munch on a certain type of moth that has learned to listen for bats. So how does the Pallas long-tongued bat snag his mothy snack? Continue reading Stealth Bat

Europe’s Rarest Orchid Rediscovered on Volcanic Island Ridge

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The Hochstetter’s Butterfly-orchid.
Photo by Richard Bateman

Researchers went to the Azorean islands to find out if they contained one species of orchid, or two. Instead, they found three, and the third is arguably Europe’s rarest orchid species. Hochstetter’s Butterfly-orchid was rediscovered on the highest ridge of a volcano in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and now researchers are urgently requesting protection for this threatened species.

The research team had originally wanted to focus on studying butterfly orchids on the Azorean archipelago as a simple method for studying the origin of species. They had been systematically investigating each of the nine islands located in the North Atlantic Ocean, taking note of how the island orchids had evolved into miniature versions of their Mediterranean ancestors. Continue reading Europe’s Rarest Orchid Rediscovered on Volcanic Island Ridge

Ants – Be the Rainbow

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Photo by Mohamed Babu/Solent News

Dr. Mohamad Babu of Myansor India has captured these images of ants as they fill their translucent abdomens with vibrantly colored drops of sugar water. He got the idea after his wife showed him how the ants’ abdomens turned white after drinking spilled milk. “As the ant’s abdomen is semi-transparent, the ants gain the colours as they sip the liquid,” says Dr. Babu. He also says the ants preferred yellow and green over blue and red. You can read more at The Daily Mail. Continue reading Ants – Be the Rainbow

What Does The Koala Say?

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A Koala in Australia

Most members of the animal kingdom get sweet bonus stuff. Cats get retractable claws, monkeys get prehensile tails – and apparently koalas get extra vocal cords. Researchers have discovered that male koalas have an extra pair of vocal cords that gives their mating calls a pitch 20 times lower than it should be for a marsupial that size. To put that in perspective, it would be like a Chihuahua that can yap in the pitch of an elephant. Continue reading What Does The Koala Say?

Six Tails of An Asteroid

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Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt (UCLA)
P/2013 P5, the six-tailed asteroid.

Astronomers have discovered an asteroid with not one, but six streaming tails. This has never been seen before, and intrigued scientists are trying to figure out why this one is so special.

Most asteroids only appear as a single modest point of light, and they’re not even supposed to have tails. That luxury is usually reserved for icy comets who come too close to the sun. But this six-tailed asteroid, dubbed P/2013 P5 (P5 for short), has so many tails that it looks more like a badminton birdie. “We were literally dumbfounded when we saw it,” said lead investigator David Jewitt of the University of California at Los Angeles. Continue reading Six Tails of An Asteroid

Reindeer Eyes of Gold and Blue

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Arctic reindeer, photo by Erling Nordoy

As the cold months of winter draw near, human adaptations tend to include warm coats, turning the heat up, and turning the clock back. But for Arctic reindeer, it’s a little different. Researchers have discovered something special about how Artic reindeer prepare for the long darkness of an arctic winter. Their eyes can change color.

Reindeer eyes shift from brightly gold in the summer to a deep blue in the winter, allowing them to better see both food and predators as the seasons change. Continue reading Reindeer Eyes of Gold and Blue

Cicadas – Ugly Off-Key Summer Love

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Photo by David L. Govoni ©2012

Swarmageddon. The Great Eastern Brood. The warbling horde. This past summer was a season of apocalyptic cicada proportions for the Northeast. Billions of wriggling nymphs clawed their way out of the bowels of the earth around April or May, cast off their crunchy exoskeletons, and descended upon humanity in a red-eyed, chirpy mass. They were noisy, they were thirsty and they were looking for love. Continue reading Cicadas – Ugly Off-Key Summer Love