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Saturday, March 22, 2008

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Earth, Mars, Moon Have Different Origin, Study Says

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Largest Critters on Earth

Green Expander " Biggest Animals on EarthBiggest living animal on Earth – The Blue whale ... skycaster " Blog Archive " Biggest Animals on Earth, on October 22nd, 2007 at 9:46 am Said: ... www.greenexpander.com/2007/10/22/biggest-animals-on-earth - Biggest Animals on Earth

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In the Animal kingdom, size is a big factor in the battle for survival. For these large animals, predators are scarce but illegal hunting activities reduce their number considerably. Contrary to many expectations, the largest animal on Earth was not a dinosaur. The largest known to man was more than half the size of a blue whale. Here are the superlatives in terms of size for the wild.

Biggest living animal on EarthPhotobucket Blue Whale - compared to human Photobucket The Blue whale Biggest weight ever recorded for a blue whale was 190 tones and was 30 m (100 ft). Since whaling was banned, a 7.3% per year increase has been noticed since Soviet Union whaling has ended. Sadly, the Blue Whale remains listed as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List of threatened species

Biggest land animal – The African Bush Elephant

The African Bush Elephant

The baby elephant at birth weighs an amazing 100kg while the biggest elephant recorded weighed 12,272 kg or 13.5 tons. The African Bush Elephant is found in most African countries excluding the Sahara and tropical rainforest of the Congo. Currently, elephants are endangered and almost exterminated in some parts of the continent by ivory poaching. ...............................................................................................................................

Biggest carnivore on Earth – the Southern Elephant Seal Southern Elephant Seal The record for the species is held by an The record for the species is held by an animal having a weight of 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) and a height of 6.9 m (22.5 feet). Inhabitants of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands, hunting led these seals on the brink of extinction in the 19th century, but the total population now reaches 600,000. ...............................................................................................................................

Biggest rabbit in the world – European Hare Out of the rabbits and hares, this rabbit native to northern, central, and western Europe and western Asia is the biggest one. The European hare can reach 6.6 kg (14.6 lb) and be 76 cm (30 in) long. (the rabbit pictured weighs in at 22 lbs.)

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Biggest primate on Earth - The Eastern Lowland Gorilla Eastern Lowland Gorilla The Largest living primate is this black gorilla; a male of this species reached over 225 kg (500 lb) and 1.83 m (6 ft) in the wild. Overall, the largest primate ever to walk the Earth was the Gigantopithecus, which, according to estimations, reached 3 m (10 ft), weighing 300 to 550 kg (700 to 1,200 lb). Only found in the tropical forests of eastern Zaire, Africa, fewer than 5,000 gorillas may remain according to the latest estimates.

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Biggest rodent in the world - The capybara

capybara

If you thought mice and rats were an issue, meet the largest of their kind, the capybara. An adult can reach 80 kg (176 lb), 1.5 m (5 ft) long and 90 cm (3 ft) tall. The population is stable and the capybara is not considered a threatened species.

Biggest reptile in the world - The Green anaconda The Green anaconda Main character for many horror movies, the largest anaconda to be recorded had 9.5 m (31.4 ft) and 250 kg (550 lb), although larger ones do exist. The largest anaconda to be captured, even though it was not weighed because it escaped, was 11.43 m (37.5 feet). ................................................................................................................................

Biggest bird the world – The Ostrich

Ostrich Elephant Birds

Related to the extinct Elephant Birds of Madagascar, that exceeded 3 m (10 ft) and 500 kg (1,120 lb), the Ostrich currently has the title for biggest bird. It can reach 2.7m (9ft) and a weight of 156 kg (345 lb). Its eggs are the largest eggs in the world, reaching 1.4 kg (3 lb).

Biggest fish on Earth - The Ocean Sunfish

The Ocean Sunfish

The Sunfish is the largest bony fish, reaching 3.6 m (12 ft), a height of 4.5 m (15 ft) and a weight of 2,273 kg (5,000 lb). Found in tropical and temperate waters around the globe, the sunfish has few natural predators and are considered a delicacy in Japan or Taiwan. .......................................................................................................................

Biggest insect in the world – Giant weta Giant weta

If you are afraid of tiny roaches in your kitchen, this can possibly freak you out.The weta is the biggest living insect, weighing 71 grams. Endemic to the New Zealand archipelago, 16 of the 70 species of weta are now at risk of disappearing. To prevent them from going extinct, programs have been implemented since 1970.

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Biggest Animal on Earth - video

Photobucket http://www.metacafe.com/w/849386/ Clickl url below to view video: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/849386/biggest_animal_on_earth_ever Beautiful video; spelling errors do not detract from great video. Enjoy! Curious George

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Blue Whale - Largest Animal on Earth - Video

Biggest Animal On Earth Ever. Rate: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 4.20. Tags: Blue Whale Planet Earth Biggest Animal Ever Super Size Bigger Dinosaurs Amazing Crazy ...
www.metacafe.com/watch/849386/biggest_animal_on_earth_ever click on link above to view video #1

Beautiful video of blue whale. Magnificient

You Tube Video of Blue Whale plus narrative: video #2

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Antartica - Giant Marine Life

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080321/ap_on_sc/antarctic_sea_life

Giant marine life found in Antarctica

In this undated photo supplied by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, or NIWA, Benthic team members Sadie Mills, left, NIWA curatorial technician and Niki Davey, NIWA marine ecologist hold giant Macroptychaster sea star (starfish) measuring up to 60 cm across in Antarctic waters.  Scientists found that some marine life doesn't come small in Antarctic waters, with giant-sized specimens surprising researchers during a survey of New Zealand's Antarctic seas that ended this week. (AP Photo/NZ IPY-CAML, John Mitchell) AP Photo: In this undated photo supplied by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, or

By RAY LILLEY, Associated Press Writer Fri Mar 21, 1:19 PM ET

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Scientists who conducted the most comprehensive survey to date of New Zealand's Antarctic waters were surprised by the size of some specimens found, including jellyfish with 12-foot tentacles and 2-foot-wide starfish.

A 2,000-mile journey through the Ross Sea that ended Thursday has also potentially turned up several new species, including as many as eight new mollusks.

It's "exciting when you come across a new species," said Chris Jones, a fisheries scientist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "All the fish people go nuts about that — but you have to take it with a grain of salt."

The finds must still be reviewed by experts to determine if they are in fact new, said Stu Hanchet, a fisheries scientist at New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

But beyond the discovery of new species, scientists said the survey, the most comprehensive to date in the Ross Sea, turned up other surprises.

Hanchet singled out the discovery of "fields" of sea lilies that stretched for hundreds of yards across the ocean floor.

"Some of these big meadows of sea lilies I don't think anybody has seen before," Hanchet said.

Previously only small-scale scientific samplings have been staged in the Ross Sea.

The survey was part of the International Polar Year program involving 23 countries in 11 voyages to survey marine life and habitats around Antarctica. The program hopes to set benchmarks for determining the effects of global warming on Antarctica, researchers said.

Large sea spiders, jellyfish with 12-foot tentacles, huge sea snails and starfish the size of big food platters were found during a 50-day voyage, marine scientist Don Robertson said.

Cold temperatures, a small number of predators, high levels of oxygen in the sea water and even longevity could explain the size of some specimens, said Robertson, a scientist with NIWA.

Robertson added that of the 30,000 specimens collected, hundreds might turn out to be new species.

Stefano Schiaparelli, a mollusk specialist at Italy's National Antarctic Museum in Genoa, said he thought the find would yield at least eight new mollusks.

"This is a new brick in the wall of Antarctic knowledge," Schiaparelli said.

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Strange Sea Creatures Found in Antarctica

Associated Press
February 20, 2008

Scientists investigating the icy waters of Antarctica said Tuesday they have collected mysterious creatures in the murky depths, including giant sea spiders and huge worms. (See video and photos.)

[Sea Spider Sea Spiders are a crustacean that can be found off the coast of the US. However, they are typically dime sized in the US, here they get up to 12 inches across. This one (in a holding tank at the aquarium at Crary Lab), was about 8 inches across.]

Scientists collected specimens from up to 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) beneath the surface of the Southern Ocean as part of an international project to take a census of Antarctic marine life.

Some of the animals far under the sea grow to unusually large sizes, a phenomenon called gigantism that scientists still do not fully understand.

"Gigantism is very common in Antarctic waters," Martin Riddle, the Australian Antarctic Division scientist who led the expedition, said in a statement. "We have collected huge worms, giant crustaceans, and sea spiders the size of dinner plates."

New Species?

The specimens were being sent to universities and museums around the world for identification, tissue sampling, and DNA studies.

"Not all of the creatures that we found could be identified and it is very likely that some new species will be recorded as a result of these voyages," said Graham Hosie, head of the census project.

The expedition is part of an ambitious international effort to map life forms in the Antarctic's Southern Ocean and to study the impact of forces such as climate change on the undersea environment.

Three ships—Aurora Australis from Australia, France's L'Astrolabe, and Japan's Umitaka Maru—returned recently from two months in the region as part of the Collaborative East Antarctic Marine Census.

The work is part of a larger project to map the biodiversity of the world's oceans.

The French and Japanese ships sought specimens from the mid- and upper-level environment, while the Australian ship plumbed deeper waters with remote-controlled cameras.

"Fins in Various Places"

"In some places every inch of the sea floor is covered in life," Riddle said. "In other places we can see deep scars and gouges where icebergs scour the sea floor as they pass by."

Among the bizarre-looking creatures the scientists spotted were tunicates, plankton-eating animals that resemble slender glass structures up to a yard tall "standing in fields like poppies," Riddle said.

[Photobucket

February 20, 2008—Looking like glass tulips, these tunicates are actually animals—early seafloor colonizers in areas of the Southern Ocean recently disturbed by iceberg scouring. Scientists say these plankton-eating tunicates that can grow up to a yard (meter) tall. In the Southern Ocean they were found "standing in fields like poppies," said Martin Riddle, the Australian Antarctic Division scientist who led a recent expedition to take a census of Antarctic marine life. Photograph by Martin Riddle/Australian Antarctic Division]

Other animals were equally baffling.

"They had fins in various places; they had funny dangly bits around their mouths," Riddle told reporters. "They were all bottom dwellers so they were all evolved in different ways to live down on the seabed in the dark. So many of them had very large eyes—very strange-looking fish."

Scientists are planning a follow-up expedition in 10 to 15 years to examine the effects of climate changes on the region's environment.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Car Sized Scorpion?

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2007/11/21/giant-bug-fossil.html

Ancient Scorpion Was Bigger Than Car

Thomas Wagner, Associated Press

Nov. 21, 2007 -- This was a bug you couldn't swat and definitely couldn't step on. British scientists have stumbled across a fossilized claw, part of an ancient sea scorpion, that is of such large proportion it would make the entire creature the biggest bug ever.

How big? Bigger than you, and at 8 feet long as big as some Smart cars.

The discovery in 390-million-year-old rocks suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were far larger in the past than previously thought, said Simon Braddy, a University of Bristol paleontologist and one of the study's three authors.

"This is an amazing discovery," he said Tuesday.

"We have known for some time that the fossil record yields monster millipedes, super-sized scorpions, colossal cockroaches, and jumbo dragonflies. But we never realized until now just how big some of these ancient creepy-crawlies were," he said.

The research found a type of sea scorpion that was almost half a yard longer than previous estimates and the largest one ever to have evolved.

The study, published online Tuesday in the Royal Society's journal Biology Letters, means that before this sea scorpion became extinct it was much longer than today's average man is tall.

Prof. Jeorg W. Schneider, a paleontologist at Freiberg Mining Academy in southeastern Germany, said the study provides valuable new information about "the last of the giant scorpions."

Schneider, who was not involved in the study, said these scorpions "were dominant for millions of years because they didn't have natural enemies. Eventually they were wiped out by large fish with jaws and teeth."

Braddy's partner paleontologist Markus Poschmann found the claw fossil several years ago in a quarry near Prum, Germany, that probably had once been an ancient estuary or swamp.

"I was loosening pieces of rock with a hammer and chisel when I suddenly realized there was a dark patch of organic matter on a freshly removed slab. After some cleaning I could identify this as a small part of a large claw," said Poschmann, another author of the study.

"Although I did not know if it was more complete or not, I decided to try and get it out. The pieces had to be cleaned separately, dried, and then glued back together. It was then put into a white plaster jacket to stabilize it," he said.

Eurypterids, or ancient sea scorpions, are believed to be the extinct aquatic ancestors of today's scorpions and possibly all arachnids, a class of joint-legged, invertebrate animals, including spiders, scorpions, mites and ticks.

Braddy said the fossil was from a Jaekelopterus Rhenaniae, a kind of scorpion that lived only in Germany for about 10 million years, about 400 million years ago.

He said some geologists believe that gigantic sea scorpions evolved due to higher levels of oxygen in the atmosphere in the past. Others suspect they evolved in an "arms race" alongside their likely prey, fish that had armor on their outer bodies.

Braddy said the sea scorpions also were cannibals that fought and ate one other, so it helped to be as big as they could be.

"The competition between this scorpion and its prey was probably like a nuclear standoff, an effort to have the biggest weapon," he said. "Hundreds of millions of years ago, these sea scorpions had the upper hand over vertebrates -- backboned animals like ourselves."

That competition ended long ago.

But the next time you swat a fly, or squish a spider at home, Braddy said, try to "think about the insects that lived long ago. You wouldn't want to swat one of those."

The Claw
The Claw

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Brain - Self _ Mind

http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/070807_gm_identity_consciousness.html

Greatest Mysteries: Who Are You?

By Melinda Wenner, Special to LiveScience

posted: 07 August 2007 09:13 am ET

Editor's Note: We asked several scientists from various fields what they thought were the greatest mysteries today, and then we added a few that were on our minds, too. This article is one of 15 in LiveScience's "Greatest Mysteries" series running each weekday.

You might think you know yourself, but you’re wrong.

Scientists who study how the brain shapes identity and behavior say that we are actually quite unaware of who we really are. Much of what drives our actions and shapes our personality is unconscious.

The nature of consciousness has long baffled psychologists and cognitive scientists, but recent research is bolstering a consensus, said Ezequiel Morsella, a psychologist at Yale University.

If you think of the brain as a set of different computers, each of which performs different complicated tasks and proceduress, consciousness is like the Wi-Fi network that integrates the computers’ activities so that they can work together, Morsella explained.

For example, if you are carrying a hot plate of food to the table, one of your brain’s “computers” will tell you to drop the plate because it’s burning your skin, whereas another will tell you to hold on so the food doesn’t end up on the floor.

The brain requires the “Wi-Fi network” of consciousness so that the different computers can interact, hash things out and determine what you do.

It’s “a physical state that integrates systems in the brain that would otherwise not be integrated,” Morsella said in a telephone interview. More than meets the mind

So when it comes to our actions, consciousness really just skims the surface. Most of what drives what we do is embedded in neural networks not readily accessible by conscious thought, said Joseph LeDoux, a neuroscientist at New York University.

“The intuitive everyday idea about the sense of self and its control over behavior is as incorrect as the idea that the earth is flat,” Morsella agreed. Although we think of ourselves as independent agents, we’re not. Everything we do is influenced by unconscious processes and our environment, he added.

For instance, while we can be aware of some of our urges, we are often unaware of the processes that created them. “My eye may have scanned a picture of a hamburger in a magazine, and then a few minutes later, I have this urge,” Morsella said. “We’re unaware of the evolutionary sources of a lot of behavior.”

Other times, we’re not even aware of the urges. Research has shown, for instance, that compared to what would be expected by chance alone, more men named “Ken” move to live in Kentucky and more “Florences” move to live in Florida; more men named “Dennis” become dentists and more “Lauras” become lawyers.

According to John Bargh, a psychologist at Yale University, these surprising findings are most likely the result of our evolutionary-driven attraction to things similar to us—an urge stemming from the idea that we should mate with people who resemble us because they are more likely to share our genes and help to propel them into the next generation.

Most people, of course, are unaware of ever having such urges. “It is clearly an unconscious influence, as no one would claim name-letter overlap as a reason for making these important life choices,” Bargh wrote of the findings.

Understanding ourselves

Given the limited role that conscious thought plays in shaping behavior and personality, and the complexity of all the other systems that influence us, it’s not easy to understand how we become the people we become.

Most brain research today focuses on how individual systems work, but perhaps science needs to approach the brain in a different way—by designing experiments to tease out the activity of multiple systems at once, said LeDoux.

“We need to understand how information processed by many systems, both conscious and unconscious, simultaneously determines how we think, act and feel, and more generally, how we are who we are,” he told LiveScience.

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http://www.livescience.com/health/top10_mysteriesofthemind-1.html

Top 10 Mysteries of the Mind

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Much of what we don't understand about being human is simply in our heads. The brain is a befuddling organ, as are the very questions of life and death, consciousness, sleep, and much more. Here's a heads-up on what's known and what's not understood about your noggin. -Jeanna Bryner

Credit: stock.xchng

If you were to ask 10 people what dreams are made of, you'd probably get 10 different answers. That's because scientists are still unraveling this mystery. One possibility: Dreaming exercises brain by stimulating the trafficking of synapses between brain cells. Another theory is that people dream about tasks and emotions that they didn't take care of during the day, and that the process can help solidify thoughts and memories. In general, scientists agree that dreaming happens during your deepest sleep, called Rapid Eye Movement (REM).

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Sleep Cycles

Fruit flies do it. Tigers do it. And humans can't seem to get enough of it. No, not that. We're talking about shut-eye, so crucial we spend more than a quarter of our lives at it. Yet the underlying reasons for sleep remain as puzzling as a rambling dream. One thing scientists do know: Sleep is crucial for survival in mammals. Extended sleeplessness can lead to mood swings, hallucination, and in extreme cases, death. There are two states of sleep - non-rapid eye movement (NREM), during which the brain exhibits low metabolic activity, and rapid eye movement (REM), during which the brain is very active. Some scientists think NREM sleep gives your body a break, and in turn conserves energy, similar to hibernation. REM sleep could help to organize memories. However, this idea isn't proven, and dreams during REM sleep don't always correlate with memories.

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Phantom Feelings

It's estimated that about 80 percent of amputees experience sensations, including warmth, itching, pressure and pain, coming from the missing limb. People who experience this phenomenon, known as "phantom limb," feel sensations as if the missing limb were part of their bodies. One explanation says that the nerves area where the limb severed create new connections to the spinal cord and continue to send signals to the brain as if the missing limb was still there. Another possibility is that the brain is "hard-wired" to operate as if the body were fully intact - meaning the brain holds a blueprint of the body with all parts attached.

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Mission Control

Residing in the hypothalamus of the brain, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or biological clock, programs the body to follow a 24-hour rhythm. The most evident effect of circadian rhythm is the sleep-wake cycle, but the biological clock also impacts digestion, body temperature, blood pressure, and hormone production. Researchers have found that light intensity can adjust the clock forward or backward by regulating the hormone melatonin. The latest debate is whether or not melatonin supplements could help prevent jet lag - the drowsy, achy feeling you get when "jetting" across time zones.

  • Credit: Dreamstime

    Memory Lane

    Some experiences are hard to forget, like perhaps your first kiss. But how does a person hold onto these personal movies? Using brain-imaging techniques, scientists are unraveling the mechanism responsible for creating and storing memories. They are finding that the hippocampus, within the brain's gray matter, could act as a memory box. But this storage area isn't so discriminatory. It turns out that both true and false memories activate similar brain regions. To pull out the real memory, some researchers ask a subject to recall the memory in context, something that's much more difficult when the event didn't actually occur.

  • Brain Teaser

    Laughter is one of the least understood of human behaviors. Scientists have found that during a good laugh three parts of the brain light up: a thinking part that helps you get the joke, a movement area that tells your muscles to move, and an emotional region that elicits the "giddy" feeling. But it remains unknown why one person laughs at your brother's foolish jokes while another chuckles while watching a horror movie. John Morreall, who is a pioneer of humor research at the College of William and Mary, has found that laughter is a playful response to incongruities - stories that disobey conventional expectations. Others in the humor field point to laughter as a way of signaling to another person that this action is meant "in fun." One thing is clear: Laughter makes us feel better.

  • Nature vs. Nurture

    In the long-running battle of whether our thoughts and personalities are controlled by genes or environment, scientists are building a convincing body of evidence that it could be either or both! The ability to study individual genes points to many human traits that we have little control over, yet in many realms, peer pressure or upbringing has been shown heavily influence who we are and what we do.

  • Mortal Mystery

    Living forever is just for Hollywood. But why do humans age? You are born with a robust toolbox full of mechanisms to fight disease and injury, which you might think should arm you against stiff joints and other ailments. But as we age, the body's repair mechanisms get out of shape. In effect, your resilience to physical injury and stress declines. Theories for why people age can be divided into two categories: 1) Like other human characteristics, aging could just be a part of human genetics and is somehow beneficial. 2) In the less optimistic view, aging has no purpose and results from cellular damage that occurs over a person's lifetime. A handful of researchers, however, think science will ultimately delay aging at least long enough to double life spans.

  • Deep Freeze

    Living forever may not be a reality. But a pioneering field called cryonics could give some people two lives. Cryonics centers like Alcor Life Extension Foundation, in Arizona, store posthumous bodies in vats filled with liquid nitrogen at bone-chilling temperatures of minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit (78 Kelvin). The idea is that a person who dies from a presently incurable disease could be thawed and revived in the future when a cure has been found. The body of the late baseball legend Ted Williams is stored in one of Alcor's freezers. Like the other human popsicles, Williams is positioned head down. That way, if there were ever a leak in the tank, the brain would stay submerged in the cold liquid. Not one of the cryopreserved bodies has been revived, because that technology doesn't exist. For one, if the body isn't thawed at exactly the right temperature, the person's cells could turn to ice and blast into pieces.

  • Credit: Dreamstime

    Consciousness

    When you wake up in the morning, you might perceive that the Sun is just rising, hear a few birds chirping, and maybe even feel a flash of happiness as the fresh morning air hits your face. In other words, you are conscious. This complex topic has plagued the scientific community since antiquity. Only recently have neuroscientists considered consciousness a realistic research topic. The greatest brainteaser in this field has been to explain how processes in the brain give rise to subjective experiences. So far, scientists have managed to develop a great list of questions.

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Remembering Previous Existence

http://www.newscientist.com/channel/life/dn13412?DCMP=NLC-nletter&nsref=dn13412 Living World

Butterflies remember caterpillar experiences

  • 16:03 05 March 2008
  • NewScientist.com news service
Don't be cruel to caterpillars – they won't forget it. Moths and butterflies can remember what they learned as caterpillars, a study reveals.

The findings challenge the accepted wisdom that the insects – brains and all – are completely rewired during metamorphosis, and may provide clues about neural development.

"Practically everything about the two phases of the organism are so different – morphology, diet, how they move, and what they sense," says Martha Weiss of Georgetown University in Washington, DC, in the US.

"We were curious to see if we could train a caterpillar to do something it could remember as an adult," she says

Weiss and colleagues exposed tobacco hornworm caterpillars, Manduca sexta, to ethyl acetate – a chemical often used in nail polish remover – and a series of mild electric shocks.

'Caterpillar soup'

Seventy-eight percent of the caterpillars that were shocked directly after exposure avoided the compound in subsequent tests while still in the larval stage.

The tests were conducted inside a Y-shaped pipe that allowed the animals to choose an area smelling of ethyl acetate or of unadulterated air.

About a month later, after the caterpillars had metamorphosed, the adult moths were given the same choice test. Seventy-seven percent of them avoided the ethyl acetate pipe, suggesting that the lesson learned as a caterpillar is remembered as an adult.

"People always thought that during metamorphosis the caterpillar turns to soup and all the ingredients are rearranged into the butterfly or moth," says Weiss. "That clearly isn't what happens. Parts of the brain are retained that allow memories to persist through this very dramatic transition."

Plant preference

Weiss says the findings could have implications for how neurons and synapses can reconnect after the upheaval following a stroke or other kind of brain damage. The study could also explain how females know which plants to lay their eggs on, since they may remember the type of plant they fed on as a caterpillar.

Jeremy Davis of the University of Arizona in Tucson says the findings lend strong support to the theory that larval memory can persist to adulthood, a phenomenon previously only seen in fruit flies.

However, he says he is not sure if memories spanning the two life phases are strong enough to influence where females lay their eggs.

"Whether or not larval experience can cause individuals to prefer a certain host plant is still an open question," Davis says. "Positive association may not be strong enough to be maintained over metamorphosis."

Journal Reference: PLOS One (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001736)

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http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg19025552.100

Cocoon mystery

  • 10 June 2006
  • Magazine issue 2555

When an insect is changing inside its cocoon, and has turned to slush, is it alive? And if so, in what way is it alive?

In many metamorphosing insects, the majority of the cells in the body of the pupa do break down and turn to mush, but there are clusters of cells that remain intact. These cells feed on the mush, divide, and go on to develop the legs, eyes, wings, antennae and so on that we see in adult insects.

It is almost as though the mush is the yolk and the cluster of cells is the embryo of a new egg. In some rare cases, such as fungus gnats, this new embryo can split to form multiple "twin" adults from a single larva. This is called polyembryony.

Martin Harris, Australia

An insect undergoing metamorphosis is alive regardless of what state its body may be in.

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