January 10th, 2008

aye-aye peacockshock
  • drhoz


Noting the earlier mention of ajolotes, I hasten to bring you an even stranger clade of burrowing beasties, the Caecilians! (Sadly the Apodan Amphibia are one of the groups Tree of Life haven't got around to doing yet)

Caecilians are wormlike amphibians up to a metre-and-a-half long, with adorable sensory tentacles. They've been around since at least the Jurassic, OM NOM NOMing on earthworms, termites, and anything else they stumble across. They also enjoy penetrative sex, being the only amphibians duly equipped to do so. In at least one species, the babies flay their mother alive for food.

Here's a video.

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aye aye captain
  • drhoz

En Garde!

pragmatic_chimp posted about bonobos, and their penis-fencing.

My reaction to scoff - that's not a fencing penis, THIS is a fencing penis.

Those of you who have seen Dr Tatiana's Sex Advice for All Creation (the book it's based on is excellent) might have seen the penis-fencing flatworms - Oyster Leeches, in this case - that were duking it out in an effort to get the other one pregnant.

The video, not from Tatiana's sadly, is of such a duel - it's amazingly fast and brutal for such a slow and delicate creature, with each flatworm stabbing away viciously with its penises, and twisting to avoid being stabbed back.

EDIT : oh. It was also posted a while back, but not four years despite the time tag *puzzled* - http://community.livejournal.com/wtf_nature/9476.html.


everybody is of course quite right, this was posted just a few months ago and despite reading the timetag at least three times, I completely failed to realise that it was the first 4 numerals, not the last two, that indicated the year. Ah well, I guess I'll just have to put it down to the 50 or so time-codes I have to note down each day, all in a 24hr:day:month:year format
sharp, impressed
  • rosefox

WTF: "Nature"

This week's Nature includes a story on chimpanzees self-medicating against malaria by eating dirt and leaves.
Sabrina Krief, a veterinarian at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, noticed that chimpanzees in Kibale National Park often ate soil shortly before or after eating the leaves of Trichilia rubescens.

After finding that the leaves contained novel anti-malarial compounds, the researchers suggested that the apes were self-medicating.

The team collected 14 soil samples similar to those eaten by chimpanzees, along with T. rubescens leaves from the same area. They then replicated chewing and digestion using a pestle and mortar along with acid and heat treatments.

They tested the soil, leaves, and soil-leaf combination against drug-resistant strains of the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Only the soil-leaf mix had significant anti-malarial activity, they report in Naturwissenschaften.
So remind me, what exactly sets H. sapiens sapiens apart from the animal kingdom again?

Thanks to sclerotic_rings for the link.