On warm evenings in late summer, some of us may recall quaint memories of catching lightning bugs, rushing to put them in hole-riddled jars. What our childhood selves may not have known is that fireflies glow at night because they are bioluminescent, meaning they are able to produce and emit light on their own.
Want to see what it looks like when you get chomped on by a great white shark? Of course you do. This video, made by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, shows great white sharks near Guadalupe Island, Mexico. In 2013, Woods Hole researchers equipped a Remote Environmental Monitoring Unit, A.K.A. a REMUS-100 robot, with five cameras to find sharks and tag them. When the researchers sent REMUS underwater in Mexico, they got an eyeful of the sharks' territorial and predatory behaviors. The sharks snuck up under the robot in much the same way they stalk and nab seals, the video explains.
Hydraulic fracturing has increased seven-fold across the United States since 2007. Over that time period, scientists' knowledge of the environmental impacts of fracking has not progressed nearly this much. Startlingly little research has looked at biological effects of this process on the environment and wildlife. But what we do know is alarming enough that more research is urgently needed, according to a new study, and the lack of knowledge quite stunning.
There are not many creatures that can stand up to fire ants, nor their famously painful sting. Besides causing discomfort in mammals like humans (I've been stung, and it doesn't feel great), this venom has potent insect-killing powers, with the ability to knock out many of its ant rivals and other six-legged prey. But the venom is not effective against tawny crazy ants, a new invader spreading in areas of the U.S. Gulf Coast that can outcompete fire ants (Solenopsis invicta).
This octopus went about brooding her eggs for a total of 53 months (aka 4.5 years), which is by far the longest on record for any animal and more than twice the lifespan of many shallow-dwelling species. The longest any octopus had previously been known to brood was 14 months. But deep-sea creatures live in much colder waters, and it was previously unknown how long they might take to "raise" their offspring. The authors of the study, published today (July 30) in PLOS ONE, compare it to other known brooding records: