Interesting and silly. I stumbled onto this image on the internet, no idea where it is from.
Interesting and silly. I stumbled onto this image on the internet, no idea where it is from.
Parasite causes zombie ants to die in an ideal spot
Contact: Kevin Stacey, firstname.lastname@example.orgÂ |Â University of Chicago Press JournalsÂ |Â 11-Aug-2009
A study in the September issue of The American Naturalist describes new details about a fungal parasite that coerces ants into dying in just the right spotâ€”one that is ideal for the fungus to grow and reproduce. The study, led David P. Hughes of Harvard University, shows just how precisely the fungus manipulates the behavior of its hapless hosts.
When a carpenter ant is infected by a fungus known as Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, the victim remains alive for a short time. The fungus, however, is firmly in the driver’s seat. It compels the ant to climb from its nest high in the forest canopy down into small plants and saplings in the understory vegetation. The ant then climbs out onto the underside of a low-hanging leaf where it clamps down with its mandibles just before it dies. There it remains, stuck fast for weeks.
After the ant dies, the fungus continues to grow inside the body. After a few days, a stromaâ€”the fungus’s fruiting bodyâ€”sprouts from the back of the ant’s head. After a week or two, the stroma starts raining down spores to the forest floor below. Each spore has the potential to infect another unfortunate passerby.
Scientists have known for over one hundred years about this parasite’s ghastly ability to turn unsuspecting ants into zombies. But Hughes and his colleagues chronicle the amazingly precise control the fungus has over its victim.
At a field site in a Thai forest, Hughes’s team found that the infected carpenter ants are almost invariably found clamped onto the undersides of leaves that are 25 centimeters (about 10 inches) from the ground below. What’s more, most of the dead ants were found on leaves sprouting from the northwest side of the plant. Interestingly, the researchers found that temperature, humidity and sunlight in these spots are apparently optimal for the fungus to grow and reproduce. When the researchers placed leaves with infected ants at higher locations, or on the forest floor, the parasite failed to develop properly.
“The fungus accurately manipulates the infected ants into dying where the parasite prefers to be, by making the ants travel a long way during the last hours of their lives,” Hughes said.
But getting the ant to die in the right spot is only half the battle, as the researchers found when they dissected a few victims.
“The fungus has evolved a suite of novel strategies to retain possession of its precious resource,” said Hughes.
As the fungus spreads within a dead ant’s body, it converts the ant’s innards into sugars which are used to help the fungus grow. But it leaves the muscles controlling the mandibles intact to make sure the ant keeps its death grip on the leaf. The fungus also preserves the ant’s outer shell, growing into cracks and crevices to reinforce weak spots. In doing this, the fungus fashions a protective coating that keeps microbes and other fungi out. At that point, it can safely get down to the business of claiming new victims.
Carpenter ants apparently have few defenses against the fungus. The most important way they avoid infection seems to be staying as far away from victims as possible. That may be part of the reason why these ants make their nests in the forest canopy, high above fungal breeding zones. Carpenter ants also seem to avoid blazing their foraging trails under infected areas. This too might be an adaptive strategy to avoid infection, but more study is needed to confirm it, Hughes says.
The mechanisms and cues the fungus uses to control an ant’s behavior remain unknown. “That is another research area we are actively pursuing right now,” Hughes says. Whatever the mechanisms, this much is clear: O. unilateralis has evolved highly specialized abilities to get unsuspecting ants to do its bidding.
Sandra B. Andersen, Sylvia Gerritsma, Kalsum M. Yusah, David Mayntz, Nigel L. Hywelâ€Jones, Johan Billen, Jacobus J. Boomsma, and David P. Hughes, “The Life of a Dead Ant: The Expression of an Adaptive Extended Phenotype.” The American Naturalist, September 2009.
This story is important because it challenges the current “Clovis first” settlers in America and the entire trans-siberian land bridge migration of humans into the Americas. Perhaps, evidence will prove 2 migrations into the Americas, a western one via the land bridge and and eastern one from Europe either following the edge of the ice or straight across the water.
Stone tools ‘demand new American story’
By Paul Rincon and Jonathan Amos Science reporters, BBC NewsÂ |Â 24 March 2011
The long-held theory of how humans first populated the Americas may have been well and truly broken.
Archaeologists have unearthed thousands of stone tools that predate the technology widely assumed to have been carried by the first settlers.
The discoveries in Texas are seen as compelling evidence that the so-called Clovis culture does not represent America’s original immigrants.
Details of the 15,500-year-old finds are reported in Science magazine.
A number of digs across the Americas in recent decades had already hinted that the “Clovis first” model was in serious trouble.
But the huge collection of well-dated tools excavated from a creek bed 60km (40 miles) northwest of Austin mean the theory is now dead, argue the Science authors.
“This is almost like a baseball bat to the side of the head of the archaeological community to wake up and say, ‘hey, there are pre-Clovis people here, that we have to stop quibbling and we need to develop a new model for peopling of the Americas’,” Michael Waters, a Texas A&M University anthropologist, told reporters.
Manure is handy.
Manure Used To Free Horse From Drain
Visiting cowboys save Downtown carriage horse
Stephanie ScurlockÂ |Â www.wreg.comÂ |Â February 22, 2011
* Visiting Cowboys conduct wild rescue on Beale
* Carriage horse slips in drain
* Manure used to slide out horse from drain
(Memphis 02/20/2011) A group of cowboys, in Memphis for a roping competition, are being applauded for helping save a horse in distress and they used horse manure to get the job done.
John Johnson and his buddies are cowboys at heart and now Memphis knows their hearts are in the right place.
“We come to Memphis about four or five times a year. We go down to Beale Street and enjoy the music and food,” said Johnson, East Tennessee.
Johnson’s company is putting on the team calf roping competition at the Agri-Center.
This weekend he also found himself in the middle of a wild rescue while eating at Rum Boogie Cafe.
Viruses may by one of the environmental triggers that allows a latent, or dormant potential to become manifest. The study of latent genetic potential is called epigenetics. Epigenetics will forever end the nature vs nurture debate by showing how nature and nurture both affect the genome.
The Insanity Virus
11.08.2010Â |Â discovermagazine.comÂ |Â by Douglas Fox
Schizophrenia has long been blamed on bad genes or even bad parents. Wrong, says a growing group of psychiatrists. The real culprit, they claim, is a virus that lives entwined in every person’s DNA.
Steven and David Elmore were born identical twins, but their first days in this world could not have been more different. David came home from the hospital after a week. Steven, born four minutes later, stayed behind in the ICU. For a month he hovered near death in an incubator, wracked with fever from what doctors called a dangerous viral infection. Even after Steven recovered, he lagged behind his twin. He lay awake but rarely cried. When his mother smiled at him, he stared back with blank eyes rather than mirroring her smiles as David did. And for several years after the boys began walking, it was Steven who often lost his balance, falling against tables or smashing his lip.
Those early differences might have faded into distant memory, but they gained new significance in light of the twinsâ€™ subsequent lives. By the time Steven entered grade school, it appeared that he had hit his stride. The twins seemed to have equalized into the genetic carbon copies that they were: They wore the same shoulder-length, sandy-blond hair. They were both B+ students. They played basketball with the same friends. Steven Elmore had seemingly overcome his rough start. But then, at the age of 17, he began hearing voices.
The voices called from passing cars as Steven drove to work. They ridiculed his failure to find a girlfriend. Rolling up the car windows and blasting the radio did nothing to silence them. Other voices pursued Steven at home. Three voices called through the windows of his house: two angry men and one woman who begged the men to stop arguing. Another voice thrummed out of the stereo speakers, giving a running commentary on the songs of Steely Dan or Led Zeppelin, which Steven played at night after work. His nerves frayed and he broke down. Within weeks his outbursts landed him in a psychiatric hospital, where doctors determined he had schizophrenia.
This is a sad story. I am glad the township showed compassion to this greiving family. This story is an example of what high health care costs do to average Americans. Condolences to the Dodson family.
Colebrookdale couple allowed to bury baby on property
www.berksmontnews.comÂ |Â By Lynn A. Gladieux, Times WriterÂ |Â April 06, 2011
COLEBROOKDALE â€“ A township couple who buried their 10-month-old son on their Weisstown Road property are no longer facing legal action.
James A. and Chantal Dodson were told by Colebrookdale commissioners on Monday night that the township will pay all expenses involved in recording the deed and marking the property of the burial site of their son, Jesse Alexander.
A prepared statement released by township solicitor Jeffrey Karver stated, â€œThe issues surrounding the burial have been resolved without litigation. The township and the Dodsons have agreed that Jesseâ€™s grave will remain undisturbed.â€
This is cute. I’m not sure it looks like Jesus, but it does look like a hippie, a happy hippie at that. To see the face of Jesus in a pizza click here. Perhaps you’d also like Jesus in some pizza sauce or on an iron.
Personally, I think this Jesus looks a bit like Dr. Zaius.
Jesus image appears on banana peel
By Lauren Dickson | From: The Daily Telegraph | www.dailytelegraph.com.au | December 22, 2009
SITTING down for an after lunch snack turned into a brush with all things holy when Lisa Swinton saw the face of Jesus on her banana peel.
â€˜â€˜I was like â€˜Oh my God! Itâ€™s Jesus on a banana!â€™â€™
â€˜â€˜I got it out of the fruit bowl and was about to peel it and eat it when I saw his face,â€™â€™ she told The Daily Telegraph.
The impact of seeing Christ pressed into the banana did not stop the 39-year-old of Haberfield from still eating the fruit and depositing the holy peel.
â€˜â€˜I put some photos up on Facebook â€“ one of my friends said it looked like a monkey.â€™â€™
Ms Swinton is not a stranger to holy visions appearing in day to day household objects.
â€˜â€˜One of my friends said they saw the Holy Mother on their bathroom door and another saw an apparition of Mary on the mould of their shower floor,â€™â€™ she said.
he fateful placing of her banana bunch underneath other fruit, Ms Swinton believes was the cause of the sacred imprint.
â€˜â€˜It definitely wasnâ€™t that way when I bought it from Leichhardt Woollies,â€™â€™ she said.
It has been suggested that this face looks like Charles Manson and Che Guevara, too.
Face of Jesus Christ appears in three-cheese pizza
By Cayla DengateÂ |Â March 30, 2011Â |Â www.news.com.au
ALL hail Lord Cheesus – the holy apparition that appeared in a pizza.
In a purported “miracle”, the face of Jesus Christ has appeared on a three-cheese pizza made at Posh Pizza in New Farm, Brisbane.
And the image can be yours to enjoy.
The shop, in the city’s Fortitude Valley, has put the slice on eBay, and as of this morning bidding was up to $65.
An elegantly simple explanation of how a differential gear works.
Get out yer handkerchiefs….
Blind man keeps his old guide dog after it loses its sight… and then gets a new one who now leads them both around
By Daily Mail Reporter | 11th March 2011
After six years of loyal service, Graham Waspe was devastated when his guide dog Edward was left blind after developing cataracts.
But his devastation turned to joy when his replacement Opal turned out to be a real gem.
Mr Waspe’s new dog is not just aiding his owner to carry out everyday tasks, but also helping Edward to get around.
Mr Waspe, of Stowmarket, Suffolk, received his new dog last November after Edward developed the inoperable problem which resulted in him needing both eyes removed.
Disease lurks in the oddest places. Careful readers will notice that the hot tub has not been positively named as the source of the illness. A particular bacteria was merely found in the hot tub. Other sources say the fog used during the event may have been to blame for the illnesses, which could possibly have been the good ol’ flu.
I know the Playboy empire has been struggling with changes in mass media and this news surely doesn’t help. Ironically, if one were to catch a disease at a Playboy party one would expect, ahem, something different.
Playboy Mansion outbreak: Bacteria traced to whirlpool spa
April 15, 2011 | latimes.com
Health officials identified legionella bacteria in a whirlpool spa at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles during an investigation in February that began when people were sickened after attending a fundraiser.
A number of people came down with a respiratory illness after DomainFest’s Feb. 1-3 conference, which culminated in a fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles. Officials investigated to see if legionellosis was at fault; the more severe version of that illness is known as Legionnaires’ disease, while a milder version is called Pontiac fever.
Everybody needs somebody to love, I guess.
Denied a kiss, woman, 92, charged with shooting neighbor’s house
By Austin Miller, Staff writer | www.ocala.com | March 21, 2011
Dwight Bettner said he wished his 92-year-old neighbor would leave him alone long before she fired four shots at his Fort McCoy home on Monday.
Helen B. Staudinger said her relationship with the 53-year-old man soured because of his “lies” and that he was not “paying his way” when they dined out.
On Tuesday morning, in a room at the Marion County Jail where inmates appear before a judge via video, Judge Sarah Ritteroff Williams told Staudinger that even if she posts the $15,000 bail for charges of aggravated assault with a firearm and shooting into an occupied dwelling and gets out of jail, she still is forbidden to have any contact with Bettner.