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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
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ScienceShot: Stripes Speed Snake Swimming
15 April 2010 11:33 am
If you're ever gambling on seasnakes, never bet on black. New research reveals that black-and-white banded turtle-headed seasnakes (Emydocephalus annulatus) out swim their pure black counterparts, thanks to a lighter burden of algae. Algal spores settle on dark covered objects and weigh down the black snakes, slowing their swim speeds by as much as 20%, researchers report online this month in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The findings may explain why the majority of sea snakes are banded, whereas less than half of their land-based cousins sport bands. So why do black sea snakes exist at all? A covering of algae may benefit the snakes in some way, the researchers say, perhaps by providing a supply of oxygen through photosynthesis so that the snakes don't have to take as many trips to the surface where predators lurk.