Archive for June, 2010

The Water Spider

Yeah, spiders can dive. These amazing creatures can be seen in freshwater slow current lakes and ponds, arround Europe and Asia. They live all their lives in water hunting aquatic insects and small fish. Curiously they have lungs, and breathe oxygen as any other spider, so, how can they live under water?

Their technique to do this is as clever as fascinating. The spiders breathe trough the end of their abdomens, which they show outside the water to get air. All their bodies, specially their legs and abdomen, are covered by thin hairs. With these hairs they can trap and manipulate air bubbles from the surface. So when they want to dive they cover their abdomen with a single air bubble with enough supply for a while.

With the air they take and a bit of silk water spiders builts their nests with the form of a big bubble atached to any solid element from the bottom. Is in this nest where they storage their air supplys and also keep their eggs and childs.

The nest also is usefull to hunt. When a possible prey touch a silk string the vibration advice the spider, who quicly goes out, captures the prey and take it inside the big bubble.

Is due to this structure that the water spider can live permanently underwater without risking going outside. Nature can pose big tasks for survival, but as big is the barrier, as amazing is the solution.

Version en espanol

(spanish version)


The mind controller parasite

Only known by its scientific name: Toxoplasma Gondii, this is a microscopic protozoa, familiar to amoebas and radiolarians, with the increidible hability of infest the brain of other animals, and control its behaviour for its convenance.

Toxoplasma starts its live inside cats, spreading trhought all its cells. Feeding from it and degenerating its brain with visible symptoms like convulsions and mad behaviours. Then, it spawns go out with cats excrements, which are eventually consumed by rats. The parasite need to go back to a cat to complete its life cycle, so after getting to rat´s brain, it starts shooting chemical signals, which order the rat to follow the urine trace of cats for finally being eaten by them.

But the most terrible of this parasite, is that it CAN also infect humans. Cat´s excrements which fall to the grass can be eaten by animals like cows and chikens, which we eat. The undercooked meat of any farmed animal can transmit the Toxoplasm to us. But, which are the effects? This is still being studied, but scientist has determined that almost a half of human population has toxoplasm in their brains, and actually pregnant mothers can transmit it to their childs.

Toxoplasmosis has been asociated with cases of neurosis, violence, and even schizophrenia, and the worst of it, there is no cure.

Look yourself at the mirror, and judge your own behaviour. Could you be controlled right now?

Spanish version

The Mantis Shrimp

Also known as “the boxer shrimp”, this is maybe not only one of the strogest animals on earth, but also the one with the better sense of vision.

Mantis shrimps live in tropical and sub tropical oceans all over the world. They are voracious hunters, who feed on almost any kind of small animal they can reach from the bottom of the sea. Some species of them has develloped sharp claws to pierce soft body animals in just one movement. Others have developped hammer like claws, for smashing the shells of crabs and even tick snails. Such is the power of their strikes, that they can even brake the glass of an aquarium in a single attack. More than it. Such is the speed of this movement, that they produce bubbles of air wich also impact the aim as a second strike sockwave.

But the most amazing of them, are their eyes. Their eyes can moove indepently one from the other. Each one posses binocular capacity (humans need to combine both eyes to get this). They can see colours from ultra violet to infrared and even they detect all tipes of polarized light better than any man made camera. In practical words, this last hability allows them to distinghish transparent preys prefectly.

Creatures like this are the result of a difficult world, where formidable enemies, require formidable weapons.

Version en espanol (spanish version)

The Bobbit Worm

This horror movie like creature is a worm of the order of polychaeta. Marine worms of an incredible variety of shapes and sizes which live in oceans worldwide.

The Bobbit Worm is a voracious predator, who lives burried in the sand just with its head looking outside. When a prey, like fish or crabs, touch one of its sensorial antenae, the worm jumps from the sand and catch the prey with its prowerfull jaws, and then take the victim to the underground to eat it. Sometimes this attack is so quick and strong that the prey is slashed in half by the predator jaws.

These creatures are surprinsingly big, reaching 2,5 cms diameter and up to 3 meters long. They live in the Indo-Pacific, preferably in warm waters. And, dispite they hunt for surviving, they are omnivorous, so they could eat a variety of things apparts from meat if necesary.

In March 2009, the Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium discovered a bobbit worm in one of their tanks. The workers had seen the devastation caused by the worm, such as fish being injured or disappearing and coral being sliced in half, but didn’t find it until they started taking the display apart in the tank.

Now this worm called *Barry*, is the greatest atraction of the aquarium.

Version en espanol (spanish version)