Ancient Species Sheds Light on Why Giraffes Have Long NecksIn grade school, we were told that giraffes had long necks so they could eat the leaves off tall trees. That was speculation, and didn't quite hold up. Other animals in the same parts of Africa ate leaves that were just as nutritious from shorter trees and shrubs, and a giraffe with a very long neck expends a lot of energy just pumping blood that far. An ancient species of giraffe ancestor discovered in China in 1996 might give us a clue. This giraffoid, estimated to be about 16.9 million years old, resembles a giraffe but with a much shorter neck. It was named Discokeryx xiezhi. What intrigued scientists was the thickness of the fossil's skull. It had layers of keratin on top that totaled around five centimeters thick. This would have been perfect for head-butting each other. Fighting with one's head as a weapon is still seen in giraffes today. The skull-fighting may have led to an elongated neck over time, as giraffes with slightly longer necks outperformed those with shorter necks in the competition for mates, therefore passing on those long-neck genes. Read more about Discokeryx xiezhi and what it tells us at Nature.(Image credit: Y. Wang and X. Guo) #giraffe #neck #Discokeryxxiezhi
A Plant That Eats Bugs UndergroundWe know there are carnivorous plants, the most familiar being the Venus flytrap. There are also many species of pitcher plants, which produce a cup-shaped blossom containing aromatic nectar that attracts insects, but it is actually digestive juice that consume insects that fall inside. But now we have a pitcher plant unlike any other. Scientists recognized a pitcher plant in North Kalimantan in Borneo that didn't have any pitchers ...or so they thought. The new species Nepenthes pudica has pitchers, but they sprout underground, in the soft forest floor. This plant still works like any other pitcher plant, but it traps ants, mites, beetles, and other insects that live under the surface. Why would a pitcher plant develop this way? Scientists think it may be an adaptation to changing conditions like temperature and humidity. Under the soil's surface, conditions stay relatively stable. Read more about the strange Nepenthes pudica at ScienceAlert. -via Real Clear Science​(Image credit: Martin Dančák)#cernivorousplant #pitcherplant #Nepenthespudica
These Eggs Look Like a Bird's NestOnly the split whites make obvious their true nature. Redditor /u/crimsontape offers us a unique egg dish that would be perfect for breakfast at a countryside cabin.The nest is made from hash browns, freshly shredded from a whole potato. They’re seasoned with salt, pepper, and onion powder, then pan fried in canola oil. The eggs are simple boiled eggs which have been sprinkled salt, pepper, thyme, and paprika.So it’s a straightforward dish, which is ideal for breakfasttime cooking. No one should wake up too early to cook a meal. As crimsontape says, this dish is more about plating than cooking.#eggs
Plants Can Grow in Lunar Soil (on Earth)Scientists from the University of Florida have managed to grow plants of the speciesArabidopsis thaliana, or the hardy thale cress, in lunar regolith, which we know as moon dust. Now wait a minute, where did they get moon dust? From the moon, silly. This regolith was brought back by the Apollo missions 50 years ago, and it is still powering experiments here on earth. The plants are not as robust as those grown in earth soil, nor in volcanic ash, but they are growing. This research is aimed at how we can harness the moon's own resources to grow food for possible lunar visitors or even settlers. These plants were grown using seeds, regolith, water, nutrients, and artificial light, only one of which is available on the moon. But it's a step in the right direction. My question is: has the regolith undergone any changes in the 50 years since it was brought to earth? Read more about this experiment at NASA. (Image credit: UF/IFAS photo by Tyler Jones)#lunarsoil #regolith #NASA #plant #moondust
An Update on the Bee ApocalypseRemember Colony Collapse Disorder? For years, we worried about honeybees dying off and how it would affect crop pollination. You don't hear much about it anymore. Oh, it hasn't gone away, and scientists still don't know what causes it, but the extent of the problem all depends on how you look at it. Honeybees seem to be doing okay, but honeybees are just one species of many kinds of bee. And each species has their place in the modern ecosystem. Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder puts the continuing problems with bees in perspective. The last minute of this video is an ad. -via Digg#bee #honeybee #wildbee #colonycollapsedisorder
Kokea Kwok's Humanized FoodsKokea Kwok, a student at the Glasglow School of Art, revealed her series titled “Comfort Food” at the show for graduating students. It explores the relationship between humans and our food, especially our ignorance of its origin.