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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Glowing Roaches Mimic Toxic Beetles
22 August 2012 2:37 pm
Many marine creatures use bioluminescence to attract a mate or evade predators, but among land-based species it's much rarer. This makes the potential loss of a light-producing cockroach that lives in treetops in the forests of northern and central South America that much more poignant. In the first formal description of the species, scientists dub the 24-millimeter-long insect (shown in visible light, left, and under fluorescent light, right) Lucihormetica luckae. But maybe the cockroaches weren’t so lucky: The only known specimen of the insect was collected in 1939 on the slopes of Ecuador’s Tungurahua volcano, and the site was damaged when the peak erupted in December 2010. L. luckae and the other 12 species of its genus form one of only three groups of insects that can produce light (fireflies are another). The insect’s light-producing organs—two large, eyelike spots on the roach’s back, and a much smaller dot located just behind one of those spots—are bacteria-filled reservoirs in the insect's exoskeleton. New analyses of the light produced by L. luckae and its kin reveal it is identical to the light produced by click beetles in the genus Pyrophorus living in the same ecosystems, the researchers will report in a forthcoming issue of Naturwissenschaften. While those click beetles presumably generate light to warn potential predators of the highly toxic compounds they produce, the glowing cockroaches are just faking: They produce no such toxins.
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