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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: 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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