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Category: Science

A fun take on the latest science news with enough data to sink your teeth into. Lagrange Point goes beyond the glossy summary and gets in depth with the research from across the world.

May 2, 2022

Episode 481 - Finding hidden life in our oceans with RNA and DNA

Using sequencing techniques we can find all kinds of hidden life in our oceans. RNA viruses are ancient, but their old genes can help us spot them in great numbers in our oceans. There are huge amounts of 'life' in our oceans that we don't know about. No matter if you think viruses are 'alive' or not, there are way more than we imagined in our oceans. RNA viruses are easier to spot in our oceans if you look for the right ancient gene. Using gene sequencing we can find fish that are hidden in our reefs. Visually spotting fish is helpful but can overlook sneak fish. Using environemtnal sequencing techniques way more diverse range of fish can be found.

  1. Ahmed A. Zayed, James M. Wainaina, Guillermo Dominguez-Huerta, Eric Pelletier, Jiarong Guo, Mohamed Mohssen, Funing Tian, Akbar Adjie Pratama, Benjamin Bolduc, Olivier Zablocki, Dylan Cronin, Lindsey Solden, Erwan Delage, Adriana Alberti, Jean-Marc Aury, Quentin Carradec, Corinne da Silva, Karine Labadie, Julie Poulain, Hans-Joachim Ruscheweyh, Guillem Salazar, Elan Shatoff, Ralf Bundschuh, Kurt Fredrick, Laura S. Kubatko, Samuel Chaffron, Alexander I. Culley, Shinichi Sunagawa, Jens H. Kuhn, Patrick Wincker, Matthew B. Sullivan, Silvia G. Acinas, Marcel Babin, Peer Bork, Emmanuel Boss, Chris Bowler, Guy Cochrane, Colomban de Vargas, Gabriel Gorsky, Lionel Guidi, Nigel Grimsley, Pascal Hingamp, Daniele Iudicone, Olivier Jaillon, Stefanie Kandels, Lee Karp-Boss, Eric Karsenti, Fabrice Not, Hiroyuki Ogata, Nicole Poulton, Stéphane Pesant, Christian Sardet, Sabrinia Speich, Lars Stemmann, Matthew B. Sullivan, Shinichi Sungawa, Patrick Wincker. Cryptic and abundant marine viruses at the evolutionary origins of Earth’s RNA viromeScience, 2022; 376 (6589): 156 DOI: 10.1126/science.abm5847
  2. Laetitia Mathon, Virginie Marques, David Mouillot, Camille Albouy, Marco Andrello, Florian Baletaud, Giomar H. Borrero-Pérez, Tony Dejean, Graham J. Edgar, Jonathan Grondin, Pierre-Edouard Guerin, Régis Hocdé, Jean-Baptiste Juhel, Kadarusman, Eva Maire, Gael Mariani, Matthew McLean, Andrea Polanco F., Laurent Pouyaud, Rick D. Stuart-Smith, Hagi Yulia Sugeha, Alice Valentini, Laurent Vigliola, Indra B. Vimono, Loïc Pellissier, Stéphanie Manel. Cross-ocean patterns and processes in fish biodiversity on coral reefs through the lens of eDNA metabarcodingProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2022; 289 (1973) DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2022.0162
April 18, 2022

Episode 479 - Fish that count and Spiders hearing with their webs

Can fish count? What purpose does a stingray have with addition and subtraction? Why are fish and stingrays able to do basic arithmetic without a cerebral cortex? Scientists taught fish to do arithmetic with some help from Bees. What happens with you put a spider web in an anechoic chamber? How do spiders tune their webs to detect sound? Spiders webs act as powerful microphone arrays that are also cable of carrying sound across long distances. Spider webs make powerful microphone arrays that allow spiders to hear great with great fidelity.

  1. V. Schluessel, N. Kreuter, I. M. Gosemann, E. Schmidt. Cichlids and stingrays can add and subtract ‘one’ in the number space from one to fiveScientific Reports, 2022; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-07552-2
  2. Jian Zhou, Junpeng Lai, Gil Menda, Jay A. Stafstrom, Carol I. Miles, Ronald R. Hoy, Ronald N. Miles. Outsourced hearing in an orb-weaving spider that uses its web as an auditory sensorProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2022; 119 (14) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2122789119
March 7, 2022

Episode 473 - Super materials from Molluscs and Scallops

Making super materials by learning the secrets of molluscs and scallops. How are scallops are able to survive the super-cool water in Antarctica. What makes Antarctic scallop shells able to simply brush aside ice? How do you shed a skin of ice from a scallop? What connects scallops with making airplanes more efficient? How do mussels manage to stick so well to things? Is it possible to replicate the stickiness of a mussel? Mussels make themselves near impossible to remove, so can you make them even stickier?

  1. William S. Y. Wong, Lukas Hauer, Paul A. Cziko, Konrad Meister. Cryofouling avoidance in the Antarctic scallop Adamussium colbecki. Communications Biology, 2022; 5 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s42003-022-03023-6
  2. Or Berger, Claudia Battistella, Yusu Chen, Julia Oktawiec, Zofia E. Siwicka, Danielle Tullman-Ercek, Muzhou Wang, Nathan C. Gianneschi. Mussel Adhesive-Inspired Proteomimetic Polymer. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2022; DOI: 10.1021/jacs.1c10936
February 28, 2022

Episode 472 - March Mammal Madness 22 - Long lasting Leaf slugs

We give a rundown on the 10th annual March Mammal Madness, including the details of the brackets and an explanation on how it all works. More information about March Mammal Madness '22 can be found at the following sites:

One of the #2022MMM creatures, the Leaf Slug can go for long periods without food. Will the Leaf Slug's ability to eat and photosynthesize allow it to conquer #2022MMM? We dive into how leaf slugs manage to survive for so long without food #2022MMM. If you eat a leaf why doesn't that turn you INTO a leaf? How are Leaf Slugs managing to sneak out extra food for months after eating some algae? Forget emergency rations, Leaf Slugs can (solar) power on through long periods without food. How can Leaf Slugs avoid the Nitrogen trap and have a balanced diet for long periods without food.

February 7, 2022

Episode 469 - Creatures with giant mouths and giant eyes

Giant mouths and giant eyes may look cute, but they give some serious advantages when eating. How do whales manage to gulp so much water to feed without drowning? Lunge feeding where whales swallow huge volumes of water is a fast way to eat but how do whales avoid drowning? Whales and humans share some special developments to stop food (or water) going down the wrong way. Would it be possible for humans to eat underwater like a whale? How do large eyes help a creature? A creature that invests in overly large eyes must have some advantage from them. A cartoony crab with huge eyes was actually a pretty fast predator.

  1. Kelsey N. Gil, A. Wayne Vogl, Robert E. Shadwick. Anatomical mechanism for protecting the airway in the largest animals on earthCurrent Biology, 2022; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.12.040
  2. Kelsey M. Jenkins, Derek E.G. Briggs, Javier Luque. The remarkable visual system of a Cretaceous crabiScience, 2022; 25 (1): 103579 DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.103579
January 10, 2022

Episode 465 - Hedgehogs to mouthwash - Strange tales of the war against bacteria

From Hedgehogs to mouthwash, we check in on the arms race against bacteria. MRSA super-bugs are a super problem for humans, but some pre-date the modern era. MRSA super-bugs have been around since the Industrial revolution, at least on hedgehogs. The skin of hedgehogs is a battlefield between Fungus and Bacteria, and whoever wins, we loose. We often focus on Humans vs Bacteria, but it's actually a triple threat with Fungus. The fight Fungus vs Bacteria can lead to the development of antibiotic resistance. The mouth is the gate in the castle like defenses of the human immune system, so what defends it from bacteria attackers? If you have periodontal disease, it can make it easier for other viruses to get into your body. Keeping your mouth free of bacteria plaque can keep your defense against other infections high.

  1. Jesper Larsen, Claire L. Raisen, Xiaoliang Ba, Nicholas J. Sadgrove, Guillermo F. Padilla-González, Monique S. J. Simmonds, Igor Loncaric, Heidrun Kerschner, Petra Apfalter, Rainer Hartl, Ariane Deplano, Stien Vandendriessche, Barbora Černá Bolfíková, Pavel Hulva, Maiken C. Arendrup, Rasmus K. Hare, Céline Barnadas, Marc Stegger, Raphael N. Sieber, Robert L. Skov, Andreas Petersen, Øystein Angen, Sophie L. Rasmussen, Carmen Espinosa-Gongora, Frank M. Aarestrup, Laura J. Lindholm, Suvi M. Nykäsenoja, Frederic Laurent, Karsten Becker, Birgit Walther, Corinna Kehrenberg, Christiane Cuny, Franziska Layer, Guido Werner, Wolfgang Witte, Ivonne Stamm, Paolo Moroni, Hannah J. Jørgensen, Hermínia de Lencastre, Emilia Cercenado, Fernando García-Garrote, Stefan Börjesson, Sara Hæggman, Vincent Perreten, Christopher J. Teale, Andrew S. Waller, Bruno Pichon, Martin D. Curran, Matthew J. Ellington, John J. Welch, Sharon J. Peacock, David J. Seilly, Fiona J. E. Morgan, Julian Parkhill, Nazreen F. Hadjirin, Jodi A. Lindsay, Matthew T. G. Holden, Giles F. Edwards, Geoffrey Foster, Gavin K. Paterson, Xavier Didelot, Mark A. Holmes, Ewan M. Harrison, Anders R. Larsen. Emergence of methicillin resistance predates the clinical use of antibioticsNature, 2022; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04265-w
  2. Carlos J. Rodriguez-Hernandez, Kevin J. Sokoloski, Kendall S. Stocke, Himabindu Dukka, Shunying Jin, Melissa A. Metzler, Konstantin Zaitsev, Boris Shpak, Daonan Shen, Daniel P. Miller, Maxim N. Artyomov, Richard J. Lamont, Juhi Bagaitkar. Microbiome-mediated incapacitation of interferon lambda production in the oral mucosaProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (51): e2105170118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2105170118
December 20, 2021

Episode 462 - Fish helping make smart materials and renewable tech

What can fish scales teach us about the next generation of smart materials. Why is 'scale armor' often found in video games and on fish so strong? What is special about fish scales that can help us make a new generation of smart materials for clothing and structures? What do 35 million year old fish trapped in mud have to do with wind turbines and batteries? Renewable tech relies on Rare earth metals, so where do we find them? Studying fossilized fish can help us find more sources of rare earth metals to build more renewable tech.

  1. Haocheng Quan, Wen Yang, Marine Lapeyriere, Eric Schaible, Robert O. Ritchie, Marc A. Meyers. Structure and Mechanical Adaptability of a Modern Elasmoid Fish Scale from the Common CarpMatter, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.matt.2020.05.011
  2. Junichiro Ohta, Kazutaka Yasukawa, Tatsuo Nozaki, Yutaro Takaya, Kazuhide Mimura, Koichiro Fujinaga, Kentaro Nakamura, Yoichi Usui, Jun-Ichi Kimura, Qing Chang, Yasuhiro Kato. Fish proliferation and rare-earth deposition by topographically induced upwelling at the late Eocene cooling eventScientific Reports, 2020; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-66835-8
November 29, 2021

Episode 459 - Bees that eat meat, and Ants with a social stomach

Bees seem friendly and sweet, but what about a bee that eats meat? What has to happen to allow a bee to consume meat instead of pollen. What does honey produced by meat eating bees taste like? How do meat eating bees bite into their food? How different is the stomach of a meat eating bee from it's vegetarian cousins?Forget photos of food on social networks, ants have a whole social stomach for exchanging proteins. Ants carry and exchange all sorts of fluids to help parts of the colony at the right time. Ants second stomach does not contain food but is used to help process fluids for the colony.

  1. Laura L. Figueroa, Jessica J. Maccaro, Erin Krichilsky, Douglas Yanega, Quinn S. McFrederick. Why Did the Bee Eat the Chicken? Symbiont Gain, Loss, and Retention in the Vulture Bee MicrobiomemBio, 2021; DOI: 10.1128/mBio.02317-21
  2. Sanja M Hakala, Marie-Pierre Meurville, Michael Stumpe, Adria C LeBoeuf. Biomarkers in a socially exchanged fluid reflect colony maturity, behavior and distributed metabolismeLife, 2021; 10 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.74005
October 25, 2021

Episode 454 - Evolution‘s strange journeys in crabs, snakes and lizards

Why does nature continually evolve crabs? What is so good about crabs that nature just cannot stop inventing it? How can you trap a crab inside amber? What can a fossilized crab, capture din amber tell us about the complex history of crabs? Just when did crabs invade land and how did they get stuck in tree sap? How do you preserve  fossil as delicate as a crab? How did lizards and snakes develop their complex teeth? Mammals weren't the only ones to evolve complex teeth with cusps. Evolution isn't necessarily a one way progression, sometimes complexity can be rolled back like in lizards. Lizards developed complex teeth to eat plants, but then some went back to their old ways.

  1. Keiler, J., Wirkner, C., & Richter, S. (2017). One hundred years of carcinization – the evolution of the crab-like habitus in Anomura (Arthropoda: Crustacea). Biological Journal Of The Linnean Society121(1), 200-222. doi: 10.1093/biolinnean/blw031
  2. Watson, S. (2021). Why everything eventually becomes a crab. Retrieved 23 October 2021, from https://www.popsci.com/story/animals/why-everything-becomes-crab-meme-carcinization/
  3. Fabien Lafuma, Ian J. Corfe, Julien Clavel, Nicolas Di-Po�. Multiple evolutionary origins and losses of tooth complexity in squamatesNature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-26285-w
September 27, 2021

Episode 450 - Dating lobsters and islands under the sea

Dating lobsters can be tricky and not just because they pinch. We think lobsters can live for decades or centuries, but we can't actually track their age. Just how do you find out a creatures age without dissecting them? Tracking a creatures age is tricky when they cast away alot of signs of physical growth. How can there tightly knit families spread across huge distances in the sea that are somehow connected? How do genetic islands form inside the oceans? What can chaos, larvae and Antarctica tell us about genetic diversity?

  1. Eleanor A. Fairfield, David S. Richardson, Carly L. Daniels, Christopher L. Butler, Ewen Bell, Martin I. Taylor. Ageing European lobsters ( Homarus gammarus ) using DNA methylation of evolutionarily conserved ribosomal DNAEvolutionary Applications, 2021; DOI: 10.1111/eva.13296
  2. David L. J. Vendrami, Lloyd S. Peck, Melody S. Clark, Bjarki Eldon, Michael Meredith, Joseph I. Hoffman. Sweepstake reproductive success and collective dispersal produce chaotic genetic patchiness in a broadcast spawnerScience Advances, 2021; 7 (37) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abj4713
August 16, 2021

Episode 444 - Deadly Creatures in Australia for Nat. Sci Week

It's National Science Week in Australia so we celebrate with some Aussie Science. What's more Aussie than dangerous creatures? Queensland Museum researchers have found even more spiders in Brisbane. Golden Trapdoors sound like they contain treasure, but since it's Australia we're talking about, its just another scary creature. Your average Brisbane backyard may contain more types of spiders than you imagine.  How did snakes evolve their deadly fangs? What came first the venom or the tooth? Why have so many different snakes evolved venom where Lizards haven't? In Australia even the plants can be deadly. We know tobaccos is dangerous, but in WA scientists have found an insect eating wild tobacco plant. Wild tobacco plants can thrive in odd places in Australia and can even chow down on Insects. 

  1. Wilson, J. D., & Rix, M. G. (2021). Systematics of the AUSTRALIAN golden trapdoor spiders of the EUOPLOS VARIABILIS-GROUP (Mygalomorphae : IDIOPIDAE : Euoplini): Parapatry And Sympatry between closely related species in SUBTROPICAL QUEENSLAND. Invertebrate Systematics. https://doi.org/10.1071/is20055
  2. Chase, M. W., & Christenhusz, M. J. (2021). 994. NICOTIANA INSECTICIDA: Solanaceae. Curtis's Botanical Magazine. https://doi.org/10.1111/curt.12402
  3. Palci, A., LeBlanc, A., Panagiotopoulou, O., Cleuren, S., Mehari Abraha, H., Hutchinson, M., Evans, A., Caldwell, M. and Lee, M., 2021. Plicidentine and the repeated origins of snake venom fangs. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288(1956), p.20211391.
July 12, 2021

Episode 439 - The journey of humanity and its closet cousins

What separates Homo Sapiens from our closest cousins? How do we piece together the journey of Homo Sapiens across the world? Neanderthals were capable of much more than what stereotypes suggest. How did Neanderthals produce complex art? How did Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens intermix? Was there a linking population that helped spread Homo Sapiens genes into Neanderthals long before mass migration? Neanderthals are often thought of as Europe based, but was there a larger progenitor population in the Levant?

  1. Mooallem, J. (2021). The Sunday Read: ‘Neanderthals Were People, Too’. Retrieved 11 July 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/23/podcasts/the-daily/neanderthals-were-people-too.html
  2. Dirk Leder, Raphael Hermann, Matthias Hüls, Gabriele Russo, Philipp Hoelzmann, Ralf Nielbock, Utz Böhner, Jens Lehmann, Michael Meier, Antje Schwalb, Andrea Tröller-Reimer, Tim Koddenberg, Thomas Terberger. A 51,000-year-old engraved bone reveals Neanderthals’ capacity for symbolic behaviourNature Ecology & Evolution, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41559-021-01487-z
  3. Israel Hershkovitz, Hila May, Rachel Sarig, Ariel Pokhojaev, Dominique Grimaud-Hervé, Emiliano Bruner, Cinzia Fornai, Rolf Quam, Juan Luis Arsuaga, Viktoria A. Krenn, Maria Martinón-Torres, José María Bermúdez De Castro, Laura Martín-Francés, Viviane Slon, Lou Albessard-Ball, Amélie Vialet, Tim Schüler, Giorgio Manzi, Antonio Profico, Fabio Di Vincenzo, Gerhard W. Weber, Yossi Zaidner. A Middle Pleistocene Homo from Nesher Ramla, IsraelScience, 2021; 372 (6549): 1424-1428 DOI: 10.1126/science.abh3169
  4. Yossi Zaidner, Laura Centi, Marion Prévost, Norbert Mercier, Christophe Falguères, Gilles Guérin, Hélène Valladas, Maïlys Richard, Asmodée Galy, Christophe Pécheyran, Olivier Tombret, Edwige Pons-Branchu, Naomi Porat, Ruth Shahack-Gross, David E. Friesem, Reuven Yeshurun, Zohar Turgeman-Yaffe, Amos Frumkin, Gadi Herzlinger, Ravid Ekshtain, Maayan Shemer, Oz Varoner, Rachel Sarig, Hila May, Israel Hershkovitz. Middle Pleistocene Homo behavior and culture at 140,000 to 120,000 years ago and interactions with Homo sapiensScience, 2021; 372 (6549): 1429-1433 DOI: 10.1126/science.abh3020
  5. Marta Mirazón Lahr. The complex landscape of recent human evolutionScience, 2021; 372 (6549): 1395-1396 DOI: 10.1126/science.abj3077
June 28, 2021

Episode 437 - Dark Fish hiding in the ocean depths

Squeezing and grinding to create next generation materials from humble beginnings. Changing magnetic field by changing shape could open the door for more efficient computers. Magnetostriction causes that 'hum' you hear from electronics but it can be harnessed for good. Large electrical devices like transformers or fluorescent tubes shape influences their magnetic field. The next generation of computers may harness the way magnetic fields and physical shape can be linked. Forget rare earth metals, there is a more efficient way to make high powered computer chips out of humble iron and gallium. Luminescent polymers can be found in fancy OLED screens but are complex to produce. How can you make fancy luminescent polymers from generic polymers? By grinding them. A unique way of grinding and rolling basic generic polymers could create powerful luminescent polymers for use in high end screens, lasers and bioimaging.

  1. P. B. Meisenheimer, R. A. Steinhardt, S. H. Sung, L. D. Williams, S. Zhuang, M. E. Nowakowski, S. Novakov, M. M. Torunbalci, B. Prasad, C. J. Zollner, Z. Wang, N. M. Dawley, J. Schubert, A. H. Hunter, S. Manipatruni, D. E. Nikonov, I. A. Young, L. Q. Chen, J. Bokor, S. A. Bhave, R. Ramesh, J.-M. Hu, E. Kioupakis, R. Hovden, D. G. Schlom, J. T. Heron. Engineering new limits to magnetostriction through metastability in iron-gallium alloys. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22793-x
  2. Koji Kubota, Naoki Toyoshima, Daiyo Miura, Julong Jiang, Satoshi Maeda, Mingoo Jin, Hajime Ito. Introduction of a Luminophore into Generic Polymers via Mechanoradical Coupling with a Prefluorescent Reagent. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2021; DOI: 10.1002/anie.202105381
June 14, 2021

Episode 435 - Cold war secrets and reanimating frozen life

Cold war secrets buried deep in the ice and forgotten, plus reanimating frozen life from Siberia. How could some frozen dirt, forgotten in a freezer for decades help us understand a future of rising sea levels? Greenland's name was a marketing stunt by Erik the Red, but it was once truly covered in greenery. Although Greenland is so close to the North Pole, all it's thick sheets of ice have completely melted (geologically) recently. How did scientists reanimate ancient animals buried in the Siberian Tundra? Rotifers can live in some unusual places, but they can also survive being frozen and brought back to life. Ancient animals have been 'unfrozen' and brought back to life though they are very small.

  1. Lyubov Shmakova, Stas Malavin, Nataliia Iakovenko, Tatiana Vishnivetskaya, Daniel Shain, Michael Plewka, Elizaveta Rivkina. A living bdelloid rotifer from 24,000-year-old Arctic permafrost. Current Biology, 2021; 31 (11): R712 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.04.077
  2. Baqai, A., Guruswamy, V., Liu, J., & Rizki, G. (2000). Introduction to the Rotifera. Retrieved 10 June 2021, from https://ucmp.berkeley.edu/phyla/rotifera/rotifera.html
  3. Andrew J. Christ, Paul R. Bierman, Joerg M. Schaefer, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Jørgen P. Steffensen, Lee B. Corbett, Dorothy M. Peteet, Elizabeth K. Thomas, Eric J. Steig, Tammy M. Rittenour, Jean-Louis Tison, Pierre-Henri Blard, Nicolas Perdrial, David P. Dethier, Andrea Lini, Alan J. Hidy, Marc W. Caffee, John Southon. A multimillion-year-old record of Greenland vegetation and glacial history preserved in sediment beneath 1.4 km of ice at Camp Century. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (13): e2021442118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2021442118
April 5, 2021

Episode 425 - Tiny creatures with a huge impact on our oceans

Can you find fresh water in the middle of the ocean? What happens when a geyser of fresh water erupts from the sea floor into the ocean? A sudden freshwater spring can radically change the ocean floor. How do plankton shells and coral help us monitor a changing climate? Life in the oceans can help sequester carbon. We can track the way the climate has changed in the past by studying strontium isotopes in seawater. Changing climates can impact life in shallow and deep water, which can lead to changes in the carbon cycle. Tiny creatures like copepods can have a huge impact on our ocean food web. How do tiny creatures like copepods gather in ephemeral ocean zephyrs. Tiny vortexs can act as a gathering place for tiny but important sea creatures.

  1. Eric Attias, Steven Constable, Dallas Sherman, Khaira Ismail, Christopher Shuler, Henrietta Dulai. Marine Electromagnetic Imaging and Volumetric Estimation of Freshwater Plumes Offshore Hawai'i. Geophysical Research Letters, 2021; 48 (7) DOI: 10.1029/2020GL091249
  2. Adina Paytan, Elizabeth M. Griffith, Anton Eisenhauer, Mathis P. Hain, Klaus Wallmann, Andrew Ridgwell. A 35-million-year record of seawater stable Sr isotopes reveals a fluctuating global carbon cycle. Science, 2021; 371 (6536): 1346 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz9266
  3. Dorsa Elmi, Donald R. Webster, David M. Fields. Response of the copepod Acartia tonsa to the hydrodynamic cues of small-scale, dissipative eddies in turbulence. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 2021; 224 (3): jeb237297 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.237297
March 15, 2021

Episode 422 - Squid blending into starlight with Bio-luminescent bacteria

Squid can change colours, reflect light and blend in with their surroundings. How does the changing colours on squid skin work? What proteins and structures enable squid skin to reflect and amplify varying light? Squid can blend themselves into the starlight with the aid of bio-luminescence. The symbiotic relationship between bacteria and squid starts right after birth, and helps them shine to avoid predators and catch prey. A baby squid may not start out bioluminescent but a rapid spread of the right bacteria turns on the lights.

  1. Katherine E. Zink, Denise A. Ludvik, Phillip R. Lazzara, Terry W. Moore, Mark J. Mandel, Laura M. Sanchez. A Small Molecule Coordinates Symbiotic Behaviors in a Host OrganmBio, 2021; 12 (2) DOI: 10.1128/mBio.03637-20
  2. Daniel E. Morse, Esther Taxon. Reflectin needs its intensity amplifier: Realizing the potential of tunable structural biophotonicsApplied Physics Letters, 2020; 117 (22): 220501 DOI: 10.1063/5.0026546
March 8, 2021

Episode 421 - March Mammal Madness ‘21 and Bats tuning out the world

We find out about the outreach and impact of March Mammal Madness. What happens when 65 animals face off for bragging rights? Find out in #2021MMM . By sharing science with a dramatic flair, #2021MMM has brought attention to 1000s of scientific papers. From 1% of US High school classrooms, to a global audience of young and old, #2021MMM shows how science does not have to be boring. How do bats tune out the background noise and hunt tiny prey? Using acoustic tunnel vision, bats are able to hone in on their tiny prey. By echoing quietly, bats can detect the smallest of bugs.

  1. Hinde, K., Amorim, C. E., Brokaw, A. F., Burt, N., Casillas, M. C., Chen, A., . . . Anderson, C. N. (2021). March mammal madness and the power of narrative in science outreach. ELife, 10. doi:10.7554/elife.65066
  2. Hinde, K. (et al..). March mammal madness: How to play. Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://libguides.asu.edu/MarchMammalMadness#s-lg-box-23314477
  3. Hinde, K, March mammal Madness 2021. Retrieved March 06, 2021, from http://mammalssuck.blogspot.com/2021/02/march-mammal-madness-2021.html
  4. Laura Stidsholt, Stefan Greif, Holger R. Goerlitz, Kristian Beedholm, Jamie Macaulay, Mark Johnson, Peter Teglberg Madsen. Hunting bats adjust their echolocation to receive weak prey echoes for clutter reduction. Science Advances, 2021; 7 (10): eabf1367 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf1367
September 28, 2020

Episode 398 - Ig Nobel Prize ‘20 - Alligators and Spiders

We find out more about two more Ig Nobel prizes, for Accoustics and Entomology. Spiders aren't insects, but they're pretty similar. So why do so many entomologists fear spiders? Lots of legs, moves suddenly, weird shape, are fine for entomologists but add 2 extra legs and it's right out. Extra legs are a deal breaker for entomologists with a fear of spiders. Helium, Alligators in a tank, and resonant frequencies won this group a Ig Nobel prize. You've heard of beard song, but what about Alligator on helium song? Alligators and Birds can help us understand the songs of Dinosaurs.

  1. A Chinese Alligator in Heliox: Formant Frequencies in a Crocodilian,” Stephan A. Reber, Takeshi Nishimura, Judith Janisch, Mark Robertson, and W. Tecumseh Fitch, Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 218, 2015, pp. 2442-2447.
  2. Arachnophobic Entomologists: When Two More Legs Makes a Big Difference,” Richard S. Vetter, American Entomologist, vol. 59, no. 3, 2013, pp. 168-175.
August 24, 2020

Episode 393 - Microbial life in a teaspoon of the ocean

Life in the ocean is more than just fish, whales and squid, it goes down to a microbial level. We can learn a lot about the health of a whole reef system by studying microbial life in the water. Just one teaspoon of the ocean contains thousands of unique microbes. The ocean currents carry and mix ocean microbes. What makes a healthy reef? Well take a look at the microbes. How can nutrient and soil runoff damage a reef?

  1. Maria G. Pachiadaki, Julia M. Brown, Joseph Brown, Oliver Bezuidt, Paul M. Berube, Steven J. Biller, Nicole J. Poulton, Michael D. Burkart, James J. La Clair, Sallie W. Chisholm, Ramunas Stepanauskas. Charting the Complexity of the Marine Microbiome through Single-Cell GenomicsCell, 2019; 179 (7): 1623 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.11.017
  2. Laura Weber, Patricia González‐Díaz, Maickel Armenteros, Víctor M. Ferrer, Fernando Bretos, Erich Bartels, Alyson E. Santoro, Amy Apprill. Microbial signatures of protected and impacted Northern Caribbean reefs: changes from Cuba to the Florida KeysEnvironmental Microbiology, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.14870
July 6, 2020

Episode 386 - T-rex, Raptors and Giant Squid go a hunting

How fast did T-Rex really go? Was it a sprinter or an endurance runner? Being chased by a T-Rex is scary, but you have to be ready for a marathon not a sprint. T-Rex's long legs helped it be efficient rather than speedy. Did raptors hunt in packs or just near each other? What links Komodo dragons and hunting raptors? Can we figure out if raptors hunted in packs by studying their teeth? Can Komodo dragons help bust Jurrassic Park myths? We also find out about an epic battle between Giant squid and a fish trapped for eternity as fossils.

  1. T. Alexander Dececchi, Aleksandra M. Mloszewska, Thomas R. Holtz, Michael B. Habib, Hans C. E. Larsson. The fast and the frugal: Divergent locomotory strategies drive limb lengthening in theropod dinosaursPLOS ONE, 2020; 15 (5): e0223698 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223698
  2. J.A. Frederickson, M.H. Engel, R.L. Cifelli. Ontogenetic dietary shifts in Deinonychus antirrhopus (Theropoda; Dromaeosauridae): Insights into the ecology and social behavior of raptorial dinosaurs through stable isotope analysisPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 2020; 109780 DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2020.109780
  3. University of Plymouth. (2020, May 6). Fossil reveals evidence of 200-million-year-old 'squid' attack. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 15, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200506133625.htm