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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
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,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Video: Caterpillars Talk With Their Butts
12 April 2010 10:59 am
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Credit: Jayne Yack
If only world leaders would give this technique a shot. Certain caterpillars of the hook-tip moth family settle their territorial disputes by dragging their butts in a threatening matter. In caterpillars such as Drepana arcuata, seen in this video, a hair-like structure at the end of the abdomen has evolved into an "anal oar" that the insect scrapes along the surface of a leaf to warn off an intruder. (In the video, the defending caterpillar is also drumming and scraping with its mandibles.) You can hear the sound in a quiet room, says biologist Jayne Yack of Carleton University in Canada. "That's how I discovered it—I was rearing them many years ago in my dining room," she says. Some of D. arcuata's relatives crawl at intruders and push, hit, or bite them. The caterpillar's ancestors did that, too, so the scraping movement may have evolved from crawling, Yack and colleagues report online today in Nature Communications.