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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
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...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
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,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: A Fly's Imperfect Disguise
21 March 2012 2:01 pm
The fly on the left is a puzzle. In theory, it should have evolved to look just as wasplike as the one on the right, the better to ward off hungry birds. But many members of the family Syrphidae, to which both flies belong, only vaguely resemble stinging insects. Scientists have suggested that these mimics are imprecise because they simultaneously copy multiple species, or that humans see imperfections invisible to birds. To test these and other explanations, researchers examined 38 species of hover flies (Syrphidae) and 10 species of bees and wasps. After a statistical analysis of the insects' body measurements and colors, as well as their abundance and ability to trick both humans and birds, the authors discarded most of the existing explanations. Instead, they report online today in Nature, the answer comes down to size: Big flies were the best mimics and small, housefly-sized ones the worst. The team suggests that, because birds prefer to eat larger flies, the little ones simply aren't under as much pressure to evolve perfect disguises.
See more ScienceShots.