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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In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...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...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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The Sawfish's Versatile Hunting Tool
5 March 2012 12:46 pm
Like a crazed sous-chef, the sawfish slices and dices using its long, sharp snout. But that's just one of this unique tool's applications, new research suggests. Scientists have long wondered what largetooth sawfish (Pristis microdon) do with their imposing paddle-shaped snouts ringed with sharp teeth. It turns out the organs are part homing devices and part deadly blades, researchers report online today in Current Biology. The team observed sawfish, predators native to the Indian and Pacific oceans, stalking mullet and other fish in captivity. When swimming in for the kill, the assassins often swiped their saws in the water or just over the sea bottom (see video), even using the weapon to cut unlucky mullet in two. But the sawfish's snout isn't just a carving knife. When the researchers used electrodes to create small electric pulses like the ones made by fish when they contract their muscles, sawfish immediately pointed their saws at the source, hinting that the organs also sense their prey's electric footprints.
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