Robber fly: Hunting secrets of a tiny predator revealed

 The mid-air hunting strategy of a tiny fly the size of a grain of rice has been revealed by an international team of scientists .According to BBC.

Holcocephala, a species of robber fly, is able to intercept and "lock on" to its prey in less than a second.

Researchers used high-speed cameras to show exactly how the fly positioned itself to capture a moving target in mid-air.

Paloma Gonzalez-Bellido explained that, normally, "when we think of hunting animals we think of excellent vision and speed, but when you're so very tiny, you have a very small brain and limited sensory capacity".

She added: "We wanted to know how [this fly manages] this predatory behaviour."

Survival instinct, not family bonds, weave massive spider colonies together

Spiders will live in groups if environmental conditions make it too difficult for single mothers to go it alone, new research shows.

It is rare for spiders to live in groups. The arachnids studied for this research build webs that require a lot of silk, making the rainy conditions of the lowland tropical rainforest too adverse for them to live alone. The findings dispute a long-held belief that social groups form merely so individuals can help their kin. Instead it suggests difficult environmental conditions may be the reason why some species live in cooperative social groups and others don't.

"In all species, family members are closely related, but only in some do they band together to raise each others' offspring," said Leticia Avilés, a professor of zoology. "By living in groups, the spiders can occupy spaces that they wouldn't otherwise be able to, thus helping us understand why animals evolve to be social species."

Avilés pointed to other animals to support this theory including penguins who are only able to survive extreme cold and winter storms by huddling together. She said this theory could also help explain why single-celled organisms merged together to form more complicated multicellular organisms in our evolutionary history.

Why pandas are black and white

The scientists who uncovered why zebras have black and white stripes, took the coloration question to giant pandas in a study.

The study, determined that the giant panda's distinct black-and-white markings have two functions: camouflage and communication.

Deconstructing a Giant Panda  

"Understanding why the giant panda has such striking coloration has been a long-standing problem in biology that has been difficult to tackle because virtually no other mammal has this appearance, making analogies difficult," said lead author Tim Caro, a professor. "The breakthrough in the study was treating each part of the body as an independent area."

Why flowers bloom earlier in a warming climate

Scientists have discovered why the first buds of spring come increasingly earlier as the climate changes.

Dr Steven Penfield found that plants have an ideal temperature for seed set and flower at a particular time of year to make sure their seed develops just as the weather has warmed to this 'sweet spot' temperature.

Dr Penfield, working with Dr Vicki Springthorpe, found the sweet spot for the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana is between 14-15˚C. Seeds that develop in temperatures lower than 14˚C will almost always remain dormant and fail to germinate. This allows the mother plant to produce seeds with different growth strategies, increasing the chances that some of her progeny will successfully complete another generation.

As the climate changes the sweet spot for seeds comes earlier in the year, so first flowers bloom correspondingly earlier too.

How migratory birds respond to balmier autumns?

Around the world, no matter where we are, we can usually expect the weather to change from one season to the next. The warm days of summer eventually turn into the cooler days of autumn, and these changes are vital to a lot of the animals that inhabit the region as they trigger the urge of animals to prepare for winter. Migratory animals, like songbirds, use these predictable weather changes as environmental cues to tell them when it's time to migrate south. But with the earth now getting hotter and hotter each year, birds can no longer rely on the once predictable climate. As autumns are becoming milder, ornithologists keep pondering on how it could be affecting birds' migratory decisions. Now, a new paper published this week, has experimentally investigated how birds use temperature as a signal to migrate according to Science daily.