The Dirt: This Week in Nature

Larger Hoverflies Pretend to Sting Like a Bee. Hoverflies do not sting, but they can do a fair imitation of a stinging bee or wasp. Entomologists studying the hoverfly have noticed that there was a positive correlation between the size of the hoverfly and the authenticity of its bee imitation. It seems that the difference […]

The Dirt: This Week in Nature

Crayfish and the Sweet Science of Deception. When male crayfish engage in fighting, deception seems to be part of the strategy for success. Larger but weaker claws can visually intimidate an opponent while the smaller but deceptively stronger claw can provide an advantage by surprising an opponent during a fight. The behavior interests scientists because […]

The Dirt: This Week in Nature

Adventurous By Nature? – For Honeybees It’s All in the Genes. Speculation that thrill seeking behavior in humans has a genetic component received a boost from a study showing that at least in honeybees, it’s all in the genes. Gene E. Robinson, a geneticist at the University of Illinois, authored a study that describes how […]

The Dirt: This Week in Nature

Brown Bear Uses Rock as Tool. Tool use by animals is increasingly documented in the wild. New Scientist reports that a brown bear in Alaska’s Glacier National Park was seen using a paw-held rock to exfoliate molting fur from its face and neck area. This appears to be the first documented instance of bear tool […]

The Dirt: This Week in Nature

Oetzi’s Pedigree Fleshed Out. Oetzi, the 5,300 year old mummy who was found frozen mostly intact in the Alps in 1991, is the best preserved specimen of its kind ever discovered. Recently, Oetzi’s DNA has been analyzed and it is shedding some additional information about who he was. According to the analysis, Oetzi was genetically […]

The Dirt: This Week in Nature

How Tigers Get Their Stripes. 60 years ago, Alan Turing, a mathematical genius who some refer to as the father of computer theory, surmised a mechanism for the patterns seen in many living things. Spots on Dalmatians, stripes on tigers and other patterns, he suggested, might be the result of a chemical activator-inhibitor pair, which […]

The Dirt: This Week in Nature

Bees May Speak a Lingua Franca When It Comes to Food. An experiment done by researchers at Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences in London suggests that bumblebees can learn to find food from interpreting the signals of their rivals, the honeybees. Indeed, just as humans learn from their competition, bumblebees gather information […]

The Dirt: This Week in Nature

Salt Water Fish Have Fresh Water Roots. A study by scientists at the State University of New York at Stony Brook suggests a somewhat surprising origin for most of today’s ocean fish. While studying ray-finned fish, a broad group that comprises almost all of today’s ocean and fresh water species, they realized that the ancestors […]