Triassic beetle discovery in Dutch Winterswijk


This video from the USA says about itself:

New Evidence Connects Dung Beetle Evolution to Dinosaurs

4 May 2016

Dr. Nicole Gunter, invertebrate zoology collections manager at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, discusses research that uncovered an evolutionary connection between dinosaurs and dung beetles. The findings place the origin of dung beetles in the Lower Cretaceous period, with the first major diversification occurring in the middle of the Cretaceous.

By Janene Pieters on April 25, 2017 – 12:25:

A very rare fossil of a beetle that lived in the Netherlands 200 million years ago was found in a quarry in Winterswijk, according to a scientific publication in Paläontologische Zeitschrift written by paleontologists from Utrecht University,

From Paläontologische Zeitschrift:

New fossil insects from the Anisian (Lower to Middle Muschelkalk) from the Central European Basin (Germany and The Netherlands)

22 April 2017

Abstract

The Palaeozoic–Mesozoic transition is characterized not only by the most massive Phanerozoic mass extinction at the end of the Permian period, but also its extensive aftermath and a prolonged period of major biotal recovery during the succeeding Middle to Late Triassic.

Particularly, Anisian insect species from units of the Lower to Middle Muschelkalk from the Central European Basin are rare.

The Anisian is from 247.2 million years ago until 242 million years ago. So, older than the ‘200 million years ago’ of the Janene Pieters article.

The specimens described here originated from the Anisian Wellenkalk facies (Lower Muschelkalk), Vossenveld Formation of the Winterswijk quarry, The Netherlands, and from the orbicularis Member (lowermost Middle Muschelkalk, Anisian) of Esperstedt near Querfurt (Saxony-Anhalt).

Thus, the described insect remains from Winterwijk and Esperstedt expand our knowledge about Middle Triassic terrestrial arthropod communities and their palaeodiversity. A new species of Chauliodites (C. esperstedti sp. nov) is introduced.

Ancient sea scorpions, new research


This video says about itself:

13 September 2016

Today we examine the amazingly bizarre group of prehistoric arthropods, the Eurypterids or sea scorpions of the Paleozoic. We answer questions like: Where they really scorpions? How large did they get? And what are they exactly?

From the University of Alberta in Canada:

Sea scorpions: The original sea monster

Sea scorpions used serrated tail spine to dispatch their prey, researchers suggest

April 18, 2017

Summary: Related to both modern scorpions and horseshow [sic: horseshoe] crabs, sea scorpions had thin, flexible bodies. Some species also had pinching claws and could grow up to three metres in length. New research that the sea scorpions had another weapon at their disposal: a serrated, slashing tail spine.

Four hundred and thirty million years ago, long before the evolution of barracudas or sharks, a different kind of predator stalked the primordial seas. The original sea monsters were eurypterids — better known as sea scorpions.

Related to both modern scorpions and horseshow [sic: horseshoe] crabs, sea scorpions had thin, flexible bodies. Some species also had pinching claws and could grow up to three metres in length. New research by University of Alberta scientists Scott Persons and John Acorn hypothesise that the sea scorpions had another weapon at their disposal: a serrated, slashing tail spine.

Armed and dangerous

“Our study suggests that sea scorpions used their tails, weaponized by their serrated spiny tips, to dispatch their prey,” says Scott Persons, paleontologist and lead author on the study.

Sparked by the discovery of a new fossil specimen of the eurypterid Slimonia acuminata, Persons and Acorn make the biomechanical case that these sea scorpions attacked and killed their prey with sidelong strikes of their serrated tail.

The fossil, collected from the Patrick Burn Formation near Lesmahagow, Scotland, shows a eurypterid Slimonia acuminata, with a serrated-spine-tipped tail curved strongly to one side.

Powerful weapons

Unlike lobsters and shrimps, which can flip their broad tails up and down to help them swim, eurypterid tails were vertically inflexible but horizontally highly mobile.

“This means that these sea scorpions could slash their tails from side to side, meeting little hydraulic resistance and without propelling themselves away from an intended target,” explains Persons. “Perhaps clutching their prey with their sharp front limbs eurypterids could kill pretty [well] using a horizontal slashing motion.”

Among the likely prey of Slimonia acuminata and other eurypterids were ancient early vertebrates.

Nectar helps hawk moths’ health


This video from the USA says about itself:

17 April 2014

Gain an understanding of the tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta) life cycle by observing the growth and development of hornworm larvae in a vial. Learn about the integral steps of care and handling throughout this life cycle to witness the emergence of an adult moth.

From Science News:

Hawk moths convert nectar into antioxidants

Energetic fliers found a way to reduce muscle damage

By Elizabeth Eaton

7:00am, April 17, 2017

Hawk moths have a sweet solution to muscle damage.

Manduca sexta moths dine solely on nectar, but the sugary liquid does more than fuel their bodies. The insects convert some of the sugars into antioxidants that protect the moths’ hardworking muscles, researchers report in the Feb. 17 Science.

When animals expend a lot of energy, like hawk moths do as they rapidly beat their wings to hover at a flower, their bodies produce reactive molecules, which attack muscle and other cells. Humans and other animals eat foods that contain antioxidants that neutralize the harmful molecules. But the moths’ singular food source — nectar — has little to no antioxidants.

So the insects make their own. They send some of the nectar sugars through an alternative metabolic pathway to make antioxidants instead of energy, says study coauthor Eran Levin, an entomologist now at Tel Aviv University. Levin and colleagues say this mechanism may have allowed nectar-loving animals to evolve into powerful, energy-intensive fliers.

Grove snails video


This 11 April 2017 video is about two grove snails.

Around this time of the year they get active again. Maybe these two snails are engaged in foreplay before mating. But we cannot be sure, as their foreplay may last for hours.

Simone van Ham in the Netherlands made this video.

Injured African ants brought back to nest to recover


This video says about itself:

No Ant Left Behind: Warrior Ants Carry Injured Comrades Home

12 April 2017

Leave no man behind. That’s an old idea in warfare — it’s even part of the Soldier’s Creed that Army recruits learn in basic training.

And never leaving a fallen comrade is also the rule for some warriors who are ants, according to a report published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

These ants, Megaponera analis, hunt and eat termites. Scouts will go out, find a group of termites, and then return to the ant nest to muster the troops.

Biologist Erik Frank explains that 200 to 500 ants will march out in formation. “Like three ants next to each other, in a 2-meter-long column,” he says. “It’s very peculiar and it looks like a long snake walking on the ground.”

When the termites spot this invading army, they try to escape, but the fighting is fierce.

“And after roughly 20 minutes the battle is over,” says Frank, a doctoral student with the University of Würzburg in Germany who is researching animal behavior and evolution. “You have a lot of termites lying dead on the ground,” he says, “and the ants start collecting the termites to return.”

A few years ago, Frank was working at a field station in the Ivory Coast when he noticed that some of the ants marching home after battle weren’t carrying termites. Instead, they were carrying other ants.

“And I was wondering, ‘What exactly was going on there? Why were they carrying some of the ants?'” he recalls.

It turns out, those transported ants weren’t dead — they were injured.

Ants sometimes lose a leg or two, which makes it hard for them to walk. Or, they can be weighed down by a dead termite whose jaws had clamped onto them. Either way, they’re slower than uninjured, unburdened ants.

By marking these injured ants with paint, Frank learned that in nearly all cases, they made a full recovery after being carried home to recuperate. They learn to walk with fewer legs, and their ant buddies apparently will pull off stuck termites. It doesn’t take long for an ant that’s been hurt to once again be ready for action.

Credit: Frank et al./Science Advances

“We saw them again, participating in hunts the next day,” says Frank.

He and his colleagues did some experiments to see what would happen to injured ants that weren’t carried home. It turns out that these poor ants couldn’t march fast enough. So they fell behind — and frequently got eaten by spiders and other predators, the researchers report.

From Science Advances:

Saving the injured: Rescue behavior in the termite-hunting ant Megaponera analis

Erik Thomas Frank, Thomas Schmitt, Thomas Hovestadt, Oliver Mitesser, Jonas Stiegler and Karl Eduard Linsenmair

12 April 2017

Abstract

Predators of highly defensive prey likely develop cost-reducing adaptations. The ant Megaponera analis is a specialized termite predator, solely raiding termites of the subfamily Macrotermitinae (in this study, mostly colonies of Pseudocanthotermes sp.) at their foraging sites.

The evolutionary arms race between termites and ants led to various defensive mechanisms in termites (for example, a caste specialized in fighting predators). Because M. analis incurs high injury/mortality risks when preying on termites, some risk-mitigating adaptations seem likely to have evolved.

We show that a unique rescue behavior in M. analis, consisting of injured nestmates being carried back to the nest, reduces combat mortality. After a fight, injured ants are carried back by their nestmates; these ants have usually lost an extremity or have termites clinging to them and are able to recover within the nest.

Injured ants that are forced experimentally to return without help, die in 32% of the cases. Behavioral experiments show that two compounds, dimethyl disulfide and dimethyl trisulfide, present in the mandibular gland reservoirs, trigger the rescue behavior.

A model accounting for this rescue behavior identifies the drivers favoring its evolution and estimates that rescuing enables maintenance of a 28.7% larger colony size. Our results are the first to explore experimentally the adaptive value of this form of rescue behavior focused on injured nestmates in social insects and help us to identify evolutionary drivers responsible for this type of behavior to evolve in animals.

Megaponera analis lives in Africa.

Pistol shrimp named after Pink Floyd band


This video says about itself:

12 April 2017

A new species of shrimp has been named after Pink Floyd thanks to a pact between prog rock-loving scientists.

The Synalpheus pinkfloydi uses its large pink claw to create a noise so loud it can kill small fish.

The team behind the discovery vowed years ago if it ever found a new pink shrimp it would “honour” the rockers.

Sammy De Grave, head of research at Oxford University Museum of National History, said he has been a fan of the band since he was a teenager.

He said: “I have been listening to Floyd since The Wall was released in 1979, when I was 14 years old.

“The description of this new species of pistol shrimp was the perfect opportunity to finally give a nod to my favourite band.

“We are all Pink Floyd fans, and we always said if we would find a pink one, a new species of pink shrimp, we would name it after Pink Floyd.”

The pistol, or snapping shrimp, has an ability to generate sonic energy by closing their enlarged claw at rapid speed.

It can reach 210 decibels – louder than your average rock concert – and results in one of the loudest sounds in the ocean.

The description of the species, found off the Pacific coast of Panama, has been published in the Zootaxa journal and was co-authored with the Universidade Federal de Goiás in Brazil, and Seattle University in the US.

Source: here.

From the University of Oxford in England:

Rock giants Pink Floyd honoured in naming of newly discovered, bright pink pistol shrimp

April 12, 2017

Summary: A fuchsia pink-clawed species of pistol shrimp, discovered on the Pacific coast of Panama, has been given the ultimate rock and roll name in recognition of the discoverers’ favorite rock band Pink Floyd.

A strikingly bright pink-clawed species of pistol shrimp, discovered on the Pacific coast of Panama, has been given the ultimate rock and roll name in recognition of the discoverers’ favourite rock band — Pink Floyd.

The conspicuously coloured pistol shrimp has been named as Synalpheus pinkfloydi in the scientific description of the species, published in Zootaxa journal.

Just like all good rock bands, pistol shrimps, or snapping shrimps, have an ability to generate substantial amounts of sonic energy. By closing its enlarged claw at rapid speed the shrimp creates a high-pressure cavitation bubble, the implosion of which results in one of the loudest sounds in the ocean — strong enough to stun or even kill a small fish.

Combined with its distinct, almost glowing-pink snapping claw, Synalpheus pinkfloydi is aptly named by the report’s authors, Arthur Anker of the Universidade Federal de Goiás in Brazil, Kristin Hultgren of Seattle University in the USA, and Sammy De Grave, of Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

De Grave has been a life-long Pink Floyd fan and has been waiting for the opportunity to name the right new species after the band.

“I have been listening to Floyd since The Wall was released in 1979, when I was 14 years old. I’ve seen them play live several times since, including the Hyde Park reunion gig for Live8 in 2005. The description of this new species of pistol shrimp was the perfect opportunity to finally give a nod to my favourite band,” he says.

Arthur Anker, the report’s lead author, says: “I often play Pink Floyd as background music while I’m working, but now the band and my work have been happily combined in the scientific literature.”

Synalpheus pinkfloydi is not the only pistol shrimp with such a lurid claw. It’s closely-related and similar-looking sister species, Synalpheus antillensis, scientifically described in 1909, is found in the western Atlantic, including the Caribbean side of Panama. But the authors of the new paper found that the two species show considerable genetic divergence, granting S. pinkfloydi a new species status and its very own rock and roll name.

Animals feature frequently in the Floyd back-catalogue. Indeed, the 1977 album Animals includes tracks titled Dogs, Sheep, and a suite of music dedicated to pigs. Then there’s Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict from 1969’s Ummagumma. In fact, other biologists have already named a damselfly after that album: Umma gumma, in the family Calopterygidae. However, until today there have been no crustacean names known to honour the band.