This is How an Eciton Soldier Ant Bite Looks Like Up Close

When you look at the size of the tusks on the Eciton soldiers, the first thing that comes to mind is – damn, they are some serious beasts. Then You see a picture like the one above taken by Alex Wild and the image of having hundreds of these ants piercing your skin with their tusks is enough to deter you from ever messing with their ant pile.

When I e-mailed Alex about the image, he said that the tusks are used to anchor themselves to their victim. Once they are anchored, they start to jam their stingers over and over again injecting venom that will eventually kill or subdue the victim/attacker.

As you can see from the image, the tusks actually pierce the bottom of the skin, once they are anchored; they are pretty difficult to remove from your skin. The size of the tusks however, prevents them to carry anything around, so they stick to fighting and killing off anyone or anything that tries to get close to their hill. For the most part, these ant colonies have hundreds of small larvae that birds like to eat. The primary job of the army ant is to make the attempts of these birds as horrible as possible.

I have no idea what Alex was thinking when he let the ant bite his finger in the name of photography, but he said that the army ant bite is actually not that bad, he compared it to being less painful than a honey bee – still, makes for an awesome picture. Check out his portfolio, it’s definitely worth it!

Once an Angler Fish Finds a Mate, It Literally Sticks Around For Life

Well, this is an interesting find, while doing some research on line about anglerfish, the fish on the image to the left, I came across the article on Wikipedia where they talked about their reproduction cycle. Because of how rare the Angler fish is and at the depths that these fish are found, the chances of them ever find a mate would be very low. That’s why some anglerfishes, like those of the Ceratioid group (Ceratiidae, or sea devils), employ an unusual mating method.

When scientists first started capturing ceratioid anglerfish, they noticed that all of the specimens were female. These individuals were a few centimetres in size and almost all of them had what appeared to be parasites attached to them. It turned out that these “parasites” were highly reduced male ceratioids.

At birth, male ceratioids are already equipped with extremely well-developed olfactory organs that detect scents in the water. The male ceratioid lives solely to find and mate with a female. They are significantly smaller than a female angler fish, and may have trouble finding food in the deep sea. Furthermore, the growth of the alimentary canals of some males becomes stunted, preventing them from feeding. These features necessitate his quickly finding a female anglerfish to prevent death.

The sensitive olfactory organs help the male to detect the pheromones that signal the proximity of a female anglerfish. When he finds a female, he bites into her skin, and releases an enzyme that digests the skin of his mouth and her body, fusing the pair down to the blood-vessel level. The male then slowly atrophies, first losing his digestive organs, then his brain, heart, and eyes, and ends as nothing more than a pair of gonads, which release sperm in response to hormones in the female’s bloodstream indicating egg release. This extreme sexual dimorphism ensures that, when the female is ready to spawn, she has a mate immediately available. Multiple males can be incorporated into a single female . [Wikipedia]

Sperm Can Be Stored In Female Bodies For Years

People say that regardless of how much planning you do you will never be ready for a baby, and maybe that’s true, sometimes babies can come at inopportune times. But imagine getting a call 15 years after having sex with an Ex-Partner and her saying – hey you have have a 4 year old son that wants to meet you.

The Human body can only store sperm for 3-5 days, its not necessarily a “storage” period, its more of a delay on fertilization, but what if females had their own personal storage pocket? What if this pocket was like a sperm bank so she could get pregnant when she felt she was ready?

This isn’t something out of a book, researchers found that many females in the natural world possess the ability to store sperm in periods that range from a few weeks, to over 30 years. So far scientists have found birds, insects, whale sharks, and even some reptiles that can store the sperm for years. The Queen ants can store the sperm for up to 30 years before it begins to fertilize their eggs and start a colony.

Dr. Klaus Reinhardt from the University of Sheffield has a new study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, which found that female crickets are able to store sperm within by slowing the sperm’s aging process to prolong its viability. The scientists found that both the metabolic rate and the level of free radicals of stored sperm were much lower than that of un-stored sperm. By dampening the aging process, females can keep sperm alive almost indefinitely.

I’ve heard some stories in the past about women who get pregnant after their husband dies, or the ones that get pregnant in the middle of her husband’s deployment to a conflict, these women claim that their bodies stored the sperm… maybe there is some truth behind it all… maybe they did not cheat on their husbands and looked for an excuse to not look bad…  Yea who am I kidding, until someone can prove this to me, I’m not going to a Maury Show 30 years after having sex with anyone. Via: PhsyOrg

Epic Battle Where 30 Hornets Take On 30,000 Bees

The movie Killer Bees was a hell of a movie, they turn an aggressive type of bee into a deadly monster that killed anything that came into their path. But if you’re a killer bee, your worst enemy is not another colony of bees, it’s an even more fearsome monster. The Japanese Giant Hornet comes directly from Japan, and is probably deadlier than Godzilla him herself. Watch as this nest of 30,000 bees make their last stand against 30 of the feared hornets.

The Honeybees made their stand but failed to push away their attackers, the hornets practically attacked the bees in mid flight by piercing their abdomens with a superior hornet stinger. The hornets may have taken out the weaker, more docile Honeybees that we all learned to love for their honey, had this been a nest of Japanese Honeybees, the results would have been much different.

Unlike the European Honeybees, the Japanese bees have a special type of defense. This is honestly the only “B” the Japanese would be proud of. They “fry” the hornets to death, literally. The video below is what would have happened if the hornets confused a bee’s nest with a Japanese Bee’s Nest. After watching these two videos, I learned one thing – don’t mess with Japanese anything. via Blame the Voices

This Fungus Turns Ants Into Zombies

You may think that zombies may only be real in Hollywood movies, but zombies do exist. You may not see them walking around the city streets, but if you live near the Thailand tropical forest, you may see them walking in the forest floor. If you’re a human, you have nothing to worry about, but if you’re a tropical carpenter ant, that ant walking next to you may not be the same friend you were eating a leaf next to the day before.

For the most part, tropical carpenter ants spend most of their time high in the forest canopy away from the ground. Every once in a while they do venture down to the jungle floor in search of seeds, or food. When they travel to the floor, they follow a well-defined trail. It’s during this time that ants could get infected by Ophicordyceps Unilateralis – fancy name for a zombie making fungus.

The fungal spores that land on their outer body infiltrate the body of the carpenter ant, and then it begins to feed on the ant. Eventually the ant loses its ability control its body and the fungus begins the full body invasion. The fungus forces the ant to the forest floor by causing the ant to shake uncontrollably and thus losing its grip on the leaves.

Once the ant lands on the forest ground, the fungus looks for an environment where the fungus can grow – usually leaves of saplings that are about 10 inches above the soil surface. Once the fungus finds this leaf it waits for the sun to shine at its highest intensity of the day, it is then that the fungus forces the ant into “the death grip.” The ant sinks it’s mandibles into the leaf’s main vein on the underside of the leaf. The ant eventually dies and the fungus begins to grow out of the ant’s head releasing an odor unique to an ant colony.

When the fungus matures, it waits until other ants are near the area and then releases the spores infecting other ants and starting the process all over again. As long as this fungus never mutates to infect humans, we should be in the clear because this is some scary s**t. Via:Earth Sky

Brinicle ice finger of death filmed in Antarctica

If you thought that our world above the seal level was strange, wait until you see what happens underneath the ice when winter strikes. Earlier this year the BBC Crew were in the Antarctic area and using Timelapse cameras they were able to record the salt water as it was excluded from the sea ice and it sunk to the bottom of the ocean floor. The temperature of this sinking brine, which was well below 0C, caused the water to freeze in an icy sheath around it. The icy phenomenon is caused by cold, sinking brine, which is more dense than the rest of the sea water. It forms a brinicle as it contacts warmer water below the surface.

Mr Miller, a photographer for BBC, set up the rig of timelapse equipment to capture the growing brinicle under the ice at Little Razorback Island, near Antarctica’s Ross Archipelago. The video posted above shows you exactly what happens under the ice. Everything that comes in contact with this “ice finger” instantly freezes. Via: BBC Nature

Cyclopse Sharks Do Exist, now we Just Need to Find a Unicorn

In this day and age when you can make anything appear real in photoshop, seeing a one eyed creature instantly makes you want to figure out what kind of tools they used to get it to look just right.

But the Cyclopse shark pictured to the left, was actually sliced from the belly of a pregnant mamadusky shark caught by a commercial fisherman in the Gulf of California earlier this summer. According to all the reports emerging about this weird creature, the shark is real.

Shark researchers have examined the preserved creature and found that its single eye is made of functional optical tissue, they said last week. It’s unlikely, however, that the malformed creature would have survived outside the womb. Kind of freaky if you ask me, but wake me up when you find a unicorn. Via: Yahoo News

Arctic Sea Ice Continues Decline We Just Hit the 2nd-Lowest Level

Well, it looks like our earth is not doing to great again, according to Nasa, our arctic ice levels have reached the second lowest point ever. The Ice cap grows each winter as the sun sets for several months, and then the ice melts in the summer time when the sun comes back up. But this year, the ice melted to fast, and it almost reached the record low that was set back in 2007. You see the yellow lines? that’s where the Ice Should be at right now.

Joey Comiso, senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said the continued low minimum sea ice levels fits into the large-scale decline pattern that scientists have watched unfold over the past three decades.

The sea ice is not only declining, the pace of the decline is becoming more drastic,” Comiso said. “The older, thicker ice is declining faster than the rest, making for a more vulnerable perennial ice cover.

This is pretty bad news for everyone that likes to keep up with the climate, at this rate, we’ll have no ice in the poles in the upcoming decades. But right now, I’m in the middle of a desert and it’s 52 degrees out here… so it’s going to get cold again don’t stress about this to much. Yet…