Tag: Life

Dolphins can recognize themselves in a mirror (probably)

Dolphins may be able to recognise themselves in a mirror. In one experiment, they liked to look inside their own mouths and twist to see their own bellies, actions that they do not do when meeting another dolphin. This suggests that they understand what they see in a mirror is not another dolphin, but a reflection of themselves. Here’s a YouTube link and an embedded video:

Exploring an Ancient Cave

In the southeast of Romania, there is an ancient cave that has been sealed for over 5 million years – since our distant ancestors came down from the trees. Despite no light, low oxygen, and a poisonous atmosphere, it is teeming with alien-looking life including 33 unique species. The primary producers of this subterranean world are different bacteria that oxidise sulphur, methane, and carbon dioxide in what is an entirely unique cave ecosystem. It’s not somewhere you’d want to go, as it’s teeming with strange insects with extra-long appendages to help them navigate the dark. Perhaps even stranger is that it’s right next to the suburbs.

Life on the Moon

We may have accidentally populated the Moon with tardigrades, which are near-indestructible tiny animals. An Israeli space probe that was carrying the micro animals (among other things) crash-landed on the Moon late in 2016. No one knows at this point if they are still stored inside their box, if the box has cracked, or if the animals are capable of surviving on the lunar surface.

The Cells Inside your Lungs

This is what the inside of your lungs looks like at the cellular level. Healthy lungs need a mix of different cell types to maximise our ability to extract and eject essential molecules. This photo comes from Andreas Wack.

Honey bees can sniff out landmines

It turns out that honeybees can be trained to sniff out land mines, by mixing sugar with small amount of TNT. What struck me the most about this is that there are so many stimuli that surround us that we do not detect. What we can hear, see, smell, touch, and taste is just a fraction of what there is.

Psychedelic Coral

These sped-up coral polyps are incredibly psychedelic. I think that all of nature, from forests to desert grasslands is actually extraordinarily strange, but we get accustomed to seeing all but the most exotic. Source: BBC’s Blue Planet II

Heliconia rostrata

This hummingbird sitting on a ‘Heliconia rostrata’. Neither creature is conscious of it, but both have been made for each other by a multi-million-year-old evolutionary partnership between their species. Among other things, the flower became downward-facing and vibrantly red, and the bird became small, long-beaked, and long-tongued.

The Short-Faced Bear

This is the Short Faced Bear, it lived in California 11,000 years ago. It’s the largest known mammalian carnivore and it might have hunted humans. Imagine coming face to face with this guy, and all you’ve got to defend yourself is a stone-age handheld axe.