In Animal Sentience this year, Brian Key's "Why fish do not feel pain" provoked over 40 replies, including intriguing comments on tigerfish, rays and cichlids, mormyrids, invertebrates, plants, and robot fish but also comments written or co-authored by people who've been on the blue before: Lynne Sneddon (previously), Antonio Damasio (previously), and Culum Brown (previously). Less controversial threads of related interest include those on animal mourning and insect subjectivity.
On 20 February 1947, the first animal made it into space aboard a captured Nazi V-2 rocket. That animal was a fruit fly, accompanied by several compatriots from the same species. Their rocket reached an altitude of 108 kilometers and then parachuted safely back to Earth after completing their 3 minute and 10 second mission. All hail Earth's pioneering space travellers!
Dennis Hlynsky is a professor of film and animation at RISD whose most recent work, titled Small Brains on Mass, looks at bird behavior, particularly how they interact when flying in groups. To better understand how flying as a flock is achieved, Hlynsky filmed the birds and then stacked the images on the same frame for a set number of frames, the results show each bird’s flight as a trail, but synchronized with the flock. The results are often pure poetry. [more inside]
This is a sausage fly. As soon as he steps foot on the trail he is overtaken by the sisterhood. [more inside]
Bees have different “personalities”, with some showing a stronger willingness or desire to seek adventure than others, according to a study by entomologists at the University of Illinois.
Since 1977, Nikon has held a Small World Photomicrography Competition, to showcase that which cannot be seen with the naked eye. This year's winner will be announced in November, but until October 31, we have been invited to vote for one of this years' 115 finalists to receive the 'Small World Popular Vote Award.' [more inside]
Mating Leopard Slugs entwine - one of the untold wonders of the animal kingdom captured on video.... The BBC gets up close and personal with Life in the Undergrowth in their new wildlife documentary. A must see for any animal, insect or David Attenborough fan... (If the main vid link doesn't work for you try it from here - realplayer needed)
Electronic Biologia Centrali-Americana is a collaboration between the Smithsonian, Missouri Botanical and Kew Gardens, the British Natural History Museum and various other institutions which has enabled the digitizing of 58 volumes of natural history about central America produced between 1880 and 1920. It includes descriptions of more than 50,000 species with images of more than 18,000 birds, more birds, snakes, turtles, centipedes, spiders, more spiders, plants, mollusks, more plants, butterflies, orthoptera insects, more butterflies and their family's (moth-like) families, mammals and even some historic maps of the region. There is a parallel project attempting to provide access to much more scientific data and specimens between these institutions. Note: 'next' button at top +/- bottom of these large thumb pages; large high resolution jpegs work (in most cases) but zoom and .pdfiles are not yet enabled. I've only just scratched the surface.
Alan Aldridge was called "His Royal Master of Images to Their Majesties The Beatles" by John Lennon, and is probably best known for his Beatles Illustrated Lyrics, but I was looking for his delightful illustrations for "The Butterfly Ball", and found some here and here click through for larger images), and then was lucky enough to also find another web collection of his work grouped under the heading "Animal Spirits". Don't miss the wonderful self portrait from his gallery pages.
A 3,600 mile long ant colony was discovered last week in Europe. An amazing feat of cooperative living.
We're finding new fauna in some of the most heavily-populated areas on earth. It sort of makes you wonder what how many species we never even know about as we slash and burn great hunks of the rain forests, wooded areas, and other biodiverse areas of the world. (And good grief, those bugs are huge!)