Interesting Science Picture XVIII: Spiders Eat Bats

Call me disturbed.

Spiders Eat Bats (Source)

Figure 2. Bats caught by spiders. A – Adult female Avicularia urticans feeding on a Greater Sac-winged Bat (Saccopteryx bilineata) on the side of a palm tree near the Rio Yarapa, Peru (photo by Rick West, Victoria, Canada; report # 1). B – Adult Proboscis Bat (Rhynchonycteris naso) entangled in a web of Argiope savignyi at the La Selva Biological Station, northern Costa Rica (photo by Mirjam Kno¨ rnschild, Ulm, Germany; report # 14). C – Dead bat (presumably Centronycteris centralis) entangled in an orb-web in Belize (photo by Carol Farneti-Foster, Belice City, Belize; report # 12). D – Dead bat (Myotis sp.) entangled in a web of Nephila clavipes in La Sirena, Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica (photo by Harald & Gisela Unger, Ko¨ ln, Germany; report # 17). E – A bat caught in the web of an araneid spider (possibly Eriophora sp.) in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica (photo by Cassidy Metcalf, USA; report # 18). F – Live bat trapped in web of Nephilengys cruentata in a thatch roof at Nisela Lodge, Swaziland (photo by Donald Schultz, Hollywood, USA; report # 47). G – Volant juvenile Proboscis Bat (Rhynchonycteris naso) entangled in web of Nephila clavipes photographed in a palm swamp forest near Madre de Dios, Peru (photo by Sam Barnard, Colorado Springs, USA; report # 7). H – Dead bat entangled in web of a female Nephila clavipes in tropical rainforest in the middle of the Rio Dulce River Canyon near Livingston, Guatemala (photo by Sam & Samantha Bloomquist, Indianapolis, USA; report # 11). I – Dead bat (Rhinolophus cornutus orii) caught in the web of a female Nephila pilipes on Amami-Oshima Island, Japan (photo by Yasunori Maezono, Kyoto University, Japan; report # 35). J, K – A small bat (superfamily Rhinolophoidea) entangled in web of Nephila pilipes at the top of the Cockatoo Hill near Cape Tribulation, Queensland, Australia (photo by Carmen Fabro, Cockatoo Hill, Australia; report # 39). The spider pressed its mouth against the dead, wrapped bat, indicating that it was feeding on it. A Nephila pilipes male also present in the web (K) may have been feeding on the bat as well. L – Dead vespertilionid bat entangled in the web of a female Nephila pilipes in the Aberdeen Country Park, Hong Kong (photo by Carol S.K. Liu from AFCD Hong Kong, China; report # 32).

The Genetics of Stay at Home Vs “Exploratory” Butterflies

Science Daily has a fascinating bit on butterflies called Butterflies That Explore and Colonize New Habitats Are Genetically Different from Cautious Cousins.This extended quote from the press release is fascinating:

In the new study, another gene variant also stood out as an important indicator of butterfly flight ability. New-population females were more often missing a small part of the succinate dehydrogenase gene (Sdhd) and this small deletion was associated with the ability to maintain flight for a greater duration. “The Pgi gene variant seems to be associated with sprinting, and the Sdhd gene variant appears to be associated with endurance,” Marden said. “It’s easy to see why these traits and their associated genes would be found at higher frequencies in new populations. Better flight ability allows certain butterflies to be able to reach and settle new habitat patches.”

Wheat, the paper’s lead author, said, “We already knew about Pgi from previous work in other butterflies and what has been done so far in the Glanville fritillary butterfly. Now with Sdhd we have two genes in the same carbohydrate-metabolism pathway containing alleles of major effect for ecologically important traits.” Marden also commented on the differences in gene expression involving protein dynamics. “Butterflies obtain protein only during larval feeding, whereas the adults rely on nectar, from which they obtain only carbohydrate,” he said. “The timing and level of expenditure of stored proteins is one way to manipulate life history in a species where no more protein will be available to the adult.”

The paper is being published in Molecular Ecology, if someone has access and can send me a copy I would appreciate it. The paper can be found here:

Christopher W. Wheat, Howard W. Fescemyer, J. Kvist, Eva Tas, J. Cristobal Vera, Mikko J. Frilander, Ilkka Hanski, James H. Marden. Functional genomics of life history variation in a butterfly metapopulation. Molecular Ecology, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05062.x

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The Independent Origins of Blood/Oxygen Transport Mechanisms

This is pretty cool. Science Daily PhysOrg mentions research in PNAS

An extended excerpt from Science Daily PhysOrg:

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What Do You Do With A Giant Squid?

Eat it, of course:

Does this mean that Cthulhu will not return until sperm whales are extinct?

National Geographic has more pictures…

Fossil Octopi from the Upper Cenomanian: Three New Species

The journal Paleontology has an interesting paper describing three new species of fossil octopi. The new fossils date to the Upper Cenomanian (the Cenomanian is part of the Cretaceous and dates to ~99-93 MYA). The paper can be found here.

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Interesting Science News

Some interesting news from around the internet.

  1. Jenifer Neils reviews a couple of books on looting – including one I reviewed – and provides an interesting take on both.
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Has The Common Ancestor Of Deep Sea Octopi Been Found?

According to this BBC News article it has.

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Best Science Images for 2008: Long Finned Squid

National Geographic mentions that the winners in the 2008 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge have been announced and have some of the photos. My favorite is below the fold.

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Right Whale Bay of Fundy Blog

Like every blogger I accumulate more links to interesting blogs and websites than you can shake a stick at. I am also, like many bloggers, behind in updating my blogroll. Just today I received an email telling me about a fascinating blog called the Right Whale Bay of Fundy Blog. This is a blog by the New England Aquarium and contains a lot of interesting stuff. The blog will document the North Atlantic Right Whale Research Program as they photo ID whales in the Bay of Fundy. There are also web cams for some of the tanks at the aquarium and, as an added bonus, some home movies of the the marine life (for example, here is one of a giant pacific octopus). They also have some photo albums on Picasa. Check it out!

Bee Porn and Male-Male Courtship in Drosophila melanogaster

PNAS has a couple of interesting articles in the most recent edition. The first, The evolution of imperfect floral mimicry touches on a subject that fascinated Darwin. I don’t have access to the paper, but here is the abstract:

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