A 42-year-old woman named Selvi was fast asleep when she felt something wriggle up her nostril. She went to brush it away from her nose, but it was too late. The intruder was already inside. This story is literally my nightmare. 😵
The weird feeling around her nose and eyes that night was extremely painful. According to Selvi, “I could not explain the feeling but I was sure it was some insect. There was a tingling, crawling sensation. Whenever it moved, it gave me a burning sensation in my eyes. I spent the entire night in discomfort, sitting up and waiting for dawn to go to Stanley hospital after getting the reference of a doctor from my employer.”
Doctors couldn’t believe what they found. After a nasal endoscopy, they discovered a live full-grown cockroach sitting at the base of her skull, between her eyes, near her brain. They had never seen anything like it before.
It took the ‘rescue team’ roughly 45 minutes to remove the squirming insect from Selvi’s skull using suction and clamps. The craziest part? They got it on video:
Doctors were relieved the cockroach was alive. According to The New Indian Express, if the cockroach had died, it could have caused a massive brain infection.
In Greek mythology Hades is god of the dead and king of the underworld. Now, Hades is the deepest cave-dwelling centipede known to man.
Geophilus hadesi, better known as the Hades centipede, lives in three caves in Croatia’s Velebit mountains. Scientists collected three specimens of the Hades centipede at different depths in the caves and spotted one at a shocking 3,600 feet below the surface.
Members of the Croatian Biospeleological Society discovered the centipede and published their findings in the journal ZooKeys.
Unlike most species of centipede, which occasionally take shelter in caves, Hades spends all of its life underground and has learned to adapt. The centipede has “exceptionally elongated antennae, trunk segments and leg claws.” This makes Hades one of the cave’s top predators 🐛
“When I first saw the animal and its striking appearance, I immediately realized that this is a new, hitherto unnamed and highly adapted to cave environment species,” said Pavel Stoev, the study’s lead author, in a statement. “This finding comes to prove once again how little we know about the life in caves, where even in the best prospected areas, one can still find incredible animals.”
But, Hades isn’t alone! According to mythology, Hades is not only ruler of the underworld, he is also husband to Persephone. Geophilus persephones (named after Persephone, queen of the underworld) is the only other known cave-dwelling centipede. A match made in hell ❤️
This weekend Americans will be celebrating our country’s independence, but these creatures are one step ahead of us! Check out nature’s version of the good ol’ red, white, and blue 🗽🇺🇸 Happy Fourth of July!
The Wire-tailed Swallows are swallows found in Africa and Asia. Their common name is derived from their very long, fine outer tail feathers which trail behind like two wires; and their scientific name honors Professor Chetien Smith, a Norwegian botanist, who was a member of the expedition that discovered this species.
Monkey hoppers are brightly colored grasshoppers, many with lovely blue, teal, orange, or red highlights on their bodies. They also have the odd nickname of “matchstick grasshoppers”, probably because their long hind legs always seem to be awkwardly sized for their bodies.
The crimson rosella (Platycercus elegans) is a parrot native to eastern and south eastern Australia which has been introduced to New Zealand and Norfolk Island. It is commonly found in, but not restricted to, mountain forests and gardens.
Composia fidelissima sometimes known as the faithful beauty or Uncle Sam moth is a moth in the Erebidae family. It is found in southern Florida and the West Indies, including Cuba.
The blue crab is so named because of its sapphire-tinted claws. Its shell, or carapace, is actually a mottled brownish color, and mature females have red highlights on the tips of their pincers.
The Siamese fighting fish, or betta, is a vibrantly-colored fish often seen swimming solo in ornamental vases in both the office and home.
An independent German researcher has for the first time described this crayfish as a new species. The blue, pink and white crayfish from Indonesia has been dubbed Cherax pulcher. “Pulcher” is Latin for “beautiful.”
The lion’s mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata), also known as hair jelly, is the largest known species of jellyfish. Its range is confined to cold, boreal waters of the Arctic, northern Atlantic, and northern Pacific Oceans.
Butterflies use brilliant colors for a variety of purposes – to attract potential mates, to advertise their unpalatability, or to warn avian predators. They tend to occupy sunlit areas. Not so with the Malay Red Harlequin, which is normally seen only as a silhouette in the shadowy undergrowth.
The red-crested cardinal gets its common name from its prominent red head and crest. Also known as the Brazilian Cardinal, it was introduced around 1930 from South America. It feeds on seeds, plant matter, insects and fruit.
A bio-inspired robot is under development at the University of Adelaide that has insect vision. In hopes of improving robot visual systems, researchers have applied the way insects see and track their prey. Insects have this amazing ability to detect and follow small objects against complex backgrounds, which is no easy task.
In a new paper published in the Journal of The Royal Society Interface, researchers describe how the abilities of both insects and humans can be applied in a model virtual reality simulation, allowing artificial intelligence to literally ‘pursue’ an object. Lead author of the study, Mechanical Engineering PhD Student Zahra Begheri, explains the human connection.
“Consider a cricket or baseball player trying to take a match-winning catch in the outfield. They have seconds or less to spot the ball, track it and predict its path as it comes down against the brightly coloured backdrop of excited fans in the crowd – all while running or even diving towards the point where they predict it will fall… Robotics engineers still dream of providing robots with the combination of sharp eyes, quick reflexes and flexible muscles that allow a budding champion to master this skill,” she said.
Dragonflies have excellent vision, making them the key insect for this project. They have the ability to chase mates or prey in the presence of distractions, like swarms of insects. They can do this despite their low visual acuity and tiny brain. According to Bagheri, the dragonfly chases prey at speeds of up to 60 km/h, capturing them with a success rate of over 97%.
How do you convince a robot to view the world like a dragonfly?
A team of neuroscientists and engineers have developed a unique algorithm to emulate the visual tracking system found in flying insects. Instead of trying to center the target in the robots field of view, this “active vision” system locks on to the background and waits for the target to move against it. This keeps the background from being a big distraction and gives the robot time to adjust its gaze, rotating towards the target, keeping it front and center.
Dr Steven Wiederman, who is leading the project, is currently transferring the algorithm to a hardware platform… a bio-inspired, autonomous robot. DUH DUH DUH!
Scientific American shared a list of the top 10 most interesting new species discovered last year. The fascinating list was published by the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry on May 21. Explore the new creatures below!
PHOTOGENIC SEA SLUG: This gastropod, Phyllodesmium acanthorhinum, sports vivid shades of blue, red and gold. Its discovery helped scientists understand the symbiosis that occurs in members of this genus. Algae called zooxanthellae typically exist symbiotically with coral, where they exchange nutrients via cycles of respiration and photosynthesis. In sea slugs a type of tri-species symbiosis occurs when algae residing in a slug’s gut draw nutrients from coral its host consumes, in turn furnishing the slug with the nutrient products of photosynthesis. Photograph by Robert Bolland
CORAL PLANT: Found only on the southwestern slopes of Mount Mignan in the Philippines, Balanophora coralliformis is an endangered plant that parasitizes the roots of other plants. Its rough, elongated, repeatedly branching, aboveground tubers set it apart from other species of its kind. Photograph by P.B. Pelser & J.F. Barcelona
CARTWHEELING SPIDER Meet the arachnid world’s top gymnast. Cebrennus rechenbergi is a hunting spider found in the deserts of Morocco. This spider is the only species to “cartwheel,” which allows it to move two times faster than running when escaping from danger. Its unique movement inspired a biomimetic robot that walks and rolls. Photograph by Ingo Rechenberg, Technical University Berlin
CHICKEN FROM HELL Anzu wyliei is a bird like dinosaur that inhabited North American 66 million years ago. Because its relatives are chicken-size and the fossils were discovered at the Hell Creek Formation in South Dakota, A. wyliei received the nickname “chicken from hell.” Its genus name, Anzu, derives from the feathered demon “Anzû” of Babylonian mythology. Illustration by Mark A. Klingler
WALKING STICK Measuring at 23 centimeters long—yes, as long as a human forearm—Phyganistria tamdaoensis is a member of the family of “giant stick” insects, the largest insects in the world. The creature’s stick like body makes it a master of camouflage, which helps explain how it eluded discovery in its habitat in Vietnam—until now. Photograph by Jonathan Brecko
THE X-PHYLA: Residing on the sea floor off the coast of Australia, Dendrogramma enigmatica is notable for its tiny size and mushroomlike shape. It resembles members of the phyla Cnidaria (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones and hydras) and Ctenophora (comb jellies) but lacks key evolutionary traits of both. Consequently, scientists have proposed that D. enigmatica might be a member of its own new phylum. Photograph by Jørgen Oleson
WHITE-SPOTTED PUFFERFISH: In 1995 scientists described an underwater phenomenon akin to crop circles on the sea floor off the coast of Japan’s Amami-Oshima Island. Marine exploration led to the discovery that these large geometric designs are actually the nests of a pufferfish known as Torquigener albomaculosus. The fact the culprits who made them eluded scientists for 10 years earned T. albomaculosus a place on the list. Male pufferfish build these intricate nests by wriggling around in the sand on the ocean floor. The nests are intended to attract females and designed to minimize ocean current at the center of the nest to protect the eggs. Photograph by Yoji Okata
INDONESIAN FROG: Limnonectes larvaepartus is a small fanged frog found in forests on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. It is unique in that the female’s eggs are fertilized internally and she gives birth to live tadpoles. Of the 6,455 known species of frogs, fewer than a dozen undergo internal fertilization. And apart from this new species, all frogs either lay eggs or give birth to froglets. Photograph by Jimmy A. McGuire
BONE-HOUSE WASP: A wasp found in the Gutianshan National Nature Reserve in eastern China, Deuteragenia ossarium has gained notoriety for its morbid nesting habits. It builds its nests in hollow plant stems made of cells separated by soil walls, with each cell hosting an individual egg. To prepare the nest, it kills and deposits a spider in a cell as food for the larva when it hatches, lays an egg in that cell, then repeats the process for each consecutive cell. The wasp fills the last cell with up to 13 dead ants, which serve as a chemical barrier to the nest by camouflaging it with the odor of decay. Photograph by Merten Ehmig
SOLITARY BROMELIAD: Tillandsia religiosa, a solitary flowering plant with rose-colored spikes and flat green leaves, grows in rocky terrain in Morelos, Mexico. T. religiosa has long been known to native people of the region, who incorporated it into nacimientos (altar scenes depicting the birth of Christ) at Christmas. Yet scientists have only recently described it. Photograph by A. Espejo
Bombardier beetles are famous in the insect world, not because they have colorfully patterned wings or a nasty bite, but because they have a very unique defense mechanism: When disturbed or attacked, the beetles produce an internal chemical explosion in their abdomen and then expel a jet of boiling, irritating liquid toward their attackers.
The liquid they eject is called benzoquinone, and they heat it to the temperature of boiling water before they shoot it out in an intense, pulsating jet. They are not the only insect to use this liquid, but they are the only ones to make it steaming hot. Not only that, they are the only ones to emit a pulsating stream, forcing out the liquid with unique precision five times faster!
Researchers were baffled as to how these beetles could produce this spray without causing themselves any physical damage. But, the question has now been answered! Researchers at MIT used high-speed synchrotron X-ray imaging to look inside the abdomens of living bombardier beetles during their chemical explosions. Check out the video below to see the X-ray footage in action!
The key is that they synthesize the chemical at the instant of use, mixing two chemical precursors in a protective chamber in their hindquarters. As the materials combine to form the irritant, they also give off intense heat that brings the liquid almost to the boiling point — and, in the process, generates the pressure needed to expel it in a jet.
The findings are published this week in the journal Science by MIT graduate student Eric Arndt, professor of materials science and engineering Christine Ortiz, Wah-Keat Lee of Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Wendy Moore of the University of Arizona.
Bombardier beetles lives on every continent except Antarctica and have virtually no predators. Sounds like a good life to me 🙂 Spray on, little dudes.