Melting from glaciers and permafrost was not kind to the large animals of the last Ice Age. The persistent moisture turned grasslands into peatlands and bogs, a less than ideal habitat for huge grazers. As their world grew wetter, many of these megafaunal animals across Eurasia and the Americas became extinct.
From the danger-sign orange of Monarch butterflies, to the regal blues of the Blue Morpho, butterflies come in a veritable rainbow of colors. The insects display those incredible hues thanks to scales on their wings. Those scales are made up of crystals, which are made up of a sugar molecule called chitin (the same stuff that makes up insect exoskeletons and mushrooms). The tiny crystals on butterflies' scales are called gyroids. They're of interest to biologists, but also to materials scientists. Butterflies' gyroids are for more tiny and precise than anything made by humans today.
Dogs: We love them. Like, a lot. In fact, humans have been hanging out with doggos for at least 15,000 years or so, and likely a lot longer. Over the course of that long, mutually beneficial friendship, we've done a lot of strange things to our four-legged companions, controlling their reproduction to coax them into breeds that suit our (sometimes absurd) needs.
Plastic bags are nothing if not persistent—even when we want them to disappear. We've tried banning plastic bags in some cities, or taxing their in others. We've come up with replacements made from shrimp shells or biodegradable plastics, which have failed to seize the marketplace. We've even tried distilling them into fuel and cooking them into nanotubes.
In watching the giant shipworm Kuphus polythalamia ooze out of its shell like Tim Burton's idea of cake frosting, a few words might spring into your mind. "Science fiction plague," perhaps, or "dear god, why have you forsaken us," or "put that thing back where it came from, so help me." But Margo Haygood, a research professor in medicinal chemistry at the University of Utah College of Pharmacy, gushes that the worm is "the prize, the unicorn" of the shipworm world.