How plankton gets jet lagged
A hormone that governs sleep and jet lag in humans may also drive the mass migration of plankton in the ocean, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, have found. The molecule in question, melatonin, is essential to maintain our daily rhythm, and the European scientists have now discovered that it governs the nightly migration of a plankton species from the surface to deeper waters. The findings, published online today in Cell, indicate that melatonin’s role in controlling daily rhythms probably evolved early in the history of animals, and hold hints to how our sleep patterns may have evolved.[…]
[The researchers] discovered a group of specialised motor neurons that respond to melatonin. Using modern molecular sensors, [they were] able to visualise the activity of these neurons in the larva’s brain, and found that it changes radically from day to night. The night-time production of melatonin drives changes in these neurons’ activity, which in turn cause the larva’s cilia to take long pauses from beating. Thanks to these extended pauses, the larva slowly sinks down. During the day, no melatonin is produced, the cilia pause less, and the larva swims upwards.
“Step by step we can elucidate the evolutionary origin of key functions of our brain. The fascinating picture emerges that human biology finds its roots in some deeply conserved, fundamental aspects of ocean ecology that dominated life on Earth since ancient evolutionary times”
Read more @EMBL
Stalked protozoan attached to a filamentous green algae with bacteria on its surface (160x)
Paul W. Johnson
University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island, USA
Technique: Nomarski Differential Interference Contrast
Toxic Toupee: Explaining the Nation’s Most Toxic Caterpillar
by Carrie Arnold
No warm and fuzzy here—a possible boom in a highly toxic but irresistibly touchable caterpillar is sending people in the eastern U.S. to the hospital.
Young children from Florida to North Carolina are reporting excruciating pain after coming into contact with the most venomous caterpillar in the U.S., the furry puss caterpillar aka "asp" , the larva of the Flannel Moth (Megalopyge opercularis), according to news reports. Some have petted the insect; others have been injured when the caterpillars fell onto them from trees.
The puss caterpillar got its name because it resembles a cuddly house cat, said University of Florida entomologist Don Hall. While these insects may look soft, their outer comb-over (which some have compared to a toupee) hides small, extremely toxic spines that stick in your skin…
(read more: National Geographic)
photos: George Grail, National Geo
(Also see “Scat-Firing Caterpillars Elude Predators.”)
I just told my parents I’m gay and they want me to go and talk with the doctor. Yay.
I camped at a rainforest in the Sierra Gorda of Querétaro, the waterfall is called Chuveje. I’m the one with an A on the shirt (because I’m Aleks) and I made a little fungal album :)
a discussion on sexual orientation
me: *explaining various sexual orientations to a classmate*
classmate: wait, what's polyamory?
me: well, it's when someone has more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.
professor: *overhears from front of class*
professor: that is d i s g u s t i n g
me: *defensively* um, actually, no it's--
professor: how DARE they put a greek prefix on a latin root like that?! What right do they have to decimate my beautiful antiquated languages?!?! GREEK AND LATIN DO NOT FRATERNIZE THIS IS LIKE THAT STUPID ROMANTIC SUBPLOT BETWEEN THAT DWARF AND THAT ELF IN THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!
professor: it should be polyerosy