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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
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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.