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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: Whistling Caterpillars Shake Off Predators
9 December 2010 4:49 pm
When in danger, whistle. It works for the walnut sphinx caterpillar (Amorpha juglandis). The fat, juicy larvae of butterflies and moths tend to be experts at predator avoidance, using camouflage, rolling themselves in leaves, and even flicking their own poop to discourage birds, frogs, and small mammals from eating them. Whistling is just another string in their bow, researchers report online this week in The Journal of Experimental Biology. When the team used forceps to simulate the peck of a bird's beak, the caterpillars forced air through the small holes on either side of their body—normally used for breathing—to produce a high-pitched whistle. When yellow warblers heard the noise, these natural enemies of the caterpillars hesitated, jumped back, or flew off. The sound may have startled them, or perhaps they found the tune indigestible.
See more ScienceShots.