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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: A Caste System That Wriggles
14 September 2010 7:01 pm
When Himasthla species B meets the California horn snail, things get ugly. The body snatching flatworm invades the snail's gonads, starts breeding, and eventually takes over the mollusk's entire body, foraging, eating, and growing along with it. Now researchers have found an even more impressive Himasthla trait: a surprisingly complex social structure. Reporting online tomorrow in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a team finds that Himasthla colonies are divided between a class of reproducers that are large and sluglike, and a soldier class that have skinny bodies, huge mouths, and never reproduce. The soldiers viciously defend the colony from other flatworm groups or species that would take over their host, swallowing enemies whole (as seen above). This caste system puts flatworms in the company of animals renown for their complex societies, such as termites and bees. Not bad for a creature with just a couple of ganglia for a brain.
See more ScienceShots.