Predation on pollinating insects shaped the evolution of the orchid mantis

A team of scientists discovered that the orchid mantis looks like a flower due to the exploitation of pollinating insects as prey by its praying mantis ancestors according to Science daily.

By studying the evolutionary relationships of the orchid mantis and its distant relatives, the team discovered that females in the orchid mantis lineage increased in size and changed color over their evolutionary history to gain advantage over large pollinating insects, such as bees, as well as the ability to attract them for predation. However, the morphologically dissimilar males are small and camouflaged, enabling them to live a life of predator avoidance and mate finding. The team found that this difference in males and females, termed sexual dimorphism, was likely the result of female predatory success that favored larger and more conspicuously colored individuals.

Light switch in autumn leaves

Before trees lose their leaves in the winter, they offer us a bright autumnal display of reds, oranges, and yellows. This result from the decomposition of the compound that makes leaves green: chlorophyll. Among the decomposition products are yellow phyllobilins that demonstrate unusual chemical properties, these compounds act as four-step molecular "switches" that are triggered by light in different ways depending on the environment according to Science daily.

Ancient seagrass holds secrets of the oldest living organism on Earth

It's big, it's old and it lives under the sea -- and now research has confirmed that an ancient seagrass holds the secrets of the oldest living organism on Earth according to Science daily.

Ancient giant Posidonia oceanica reproduces asexually, generating clones of itself. A single organism -- which has been found to span up to 15 kilometres in width and reach more than 6,000 metric tonnes in mass -- may well be more than 100,000 years old.

"Clonal organisms have an extraordinary capacity to transmit only 'highly competent' genomes, through generations, with potentially no end," said Professor Carlos Duarte.

Migration ranges of flying birds depend on body size and flight style

The decades-long tracking of flying birds reveals that body size and flight styles determine the scale of birds' migration, as predicted by the aerodynamic theory of bird flight. Dr. Yuuki Watanabe, associate professor, compiled the migratory tracks of 196 species of flying birds recorded by electronic tags during the last few decades according to Science daily.

He demonstrated that the complex migration patterns could be explained by a simple energetic theory. Increased energy consumption of larger flapping birds, such as cranes, geese, and swans that migrate between Japan and Siberia or travel similar distances in other parts of the world, limits their migration to shorter distances. In contrast, migration ranges of soaring birds, illustrated by raptors, vultures, and albatrosses that migrate globally with minimal energy consumption, are larger than those of flapping birds and independent of body size.

N.H.Kh

Coconut crab claws pinch with the strongest force of any crustacean

The claws of coconut crabs have the strongest pinching force of any crustacean, according to a study.

Coconut crabs are the largest terrestrial crustacean and are remarkably strong, lifting up to 28 kilograms. The crabs use their claws to fight and defend themselves, and to eat coconuts and other foods with hard exteriors. While decapods exert the greatest pinching force relative to their mass, the pinching force of coconut crabs was unknown. The researchers measured the claw pinching force of 29 wild coconut crabs.

The researchers found that pinching force increased with body mass.