The Enemy of my Enemy is my …

Parasitoids are an especially gruesome type of parasite that spend part of their life attached to or inside a host organism. They differ from other parasites because they inevitably kill or sterilize their host.  For example, parasitoid wasps reproduce by laying their eggs inside of the body of a host insect. The eggs then hatch and the larvae consume their host from the inside out as they grow and develop, until ultimately they emerge, killing their host “Alien“-style.  A recent paper published online at the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, investigates a particularly interesting case in which a parasitoid wasp, Leptopilina boulardi, is in turn infected by a virus, LbFV, that manipulates the wasps parasitoid behavior.
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Beautiful Biology

CreatureCast – Passing Cloud from Casey Dunn on Vimeo.

I love the creative and artistic videos from CreatureCast.  They do a fantastic job of blending beautiful aesthetics with cool biology.  Their most recent video focuses on the display behavior of Australian Giant Cuttlefish (Sepia apama).  Like its name suggests, the Australian Giant Cuttlefish is the largest species of cuttlefish, weighing up to 25 lbs., and can be found in the waters off of the southern coast of Australia. Below is a real life clip of the Passing Cloud Pattern described in the CreatureCast video.

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Prehistoric Saber-Toothed Squirrel??

The announcement of a “Saber-Toothed Squirrel” fossil has been making the rounds on a number of high-profile news sites this week – primarily due to its resemblance to the Scrat from Ice Age.  This discovery was published in the Nov. 3rd edition of Nature under the far less exciting title: “Highly specialized mammalian skulls from the Late Cretaceous of South America”.  As this new species is not actually a squirrel and not really saber-toothed either, here is the what, when, where and why:

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Spiny Flower Mantis, Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii

Welcome – content coming soon!  Meanwhile, enjoy this beautiful picture of a praying mantis by Igor Siwanowicz.

Fun fact:  This mantis is actually only about an inch and a half long and is native to Sub-Saharan Africa.