­

Keepin’ It Glassy: How Some Animals Turn to Glass to Survive

Thirsty? Why not turn yourself to glass until you can get a drink? That’s what a tiny fly called the sleeping chironomid does.

As babies passing their days in the super-dry areas of Africa, sleeping chironomids live in little huts they make for themselves out of dirt and slobber.

The problem with living in a puddle in a super-dry place is that puddles don’t last too long. Everybody dries up.

If we dried up, our cells would collapse and would be irrevocably damaged. Nobody could bring us back to life. If we lose just 14 percent of our bodies’ water, we croak. Remember all those leathery people they find in the desert sometimes? That’s people for you.

To keep their cells from the fate of humans, sleeping chironomids first make a whole bunch of sugar called trehalose, which takes the place of water in their cells.

 

 

02---sleepingchiro---kitchen-timerA

02---sleepingchiro---kitchen-timerB03---sleepingchiro---super-sweaty205---sleepingchiro---safari2

Other animals, like sea monkeys and the ever-indestructible tardigrades, do it, too!

________________

Check our facts!

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/iub.463/full

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0014008#pone-0014008-g005

http://jeb.biologists.org/content/211/18/2899

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18070104

__

By Roar and Chris Hedstrom.

Chris Hedstrom is a entomologist in Corvallis, OR studying biological control for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. He’s also an illustrator and photographer. Check out new drawings, photos and writing as they appear at chedstrom.tumblr.com or oregonbeatsheet.wordpress.com.

By |January 14th, 2015|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Hoot’s Adventures with Emu Poop

Speaking of poop, while wandering the Australian Kwongan sandplains, Hoot and his companion noticed not all emu poop was created equal1. It turns out that emus are pretty good at helping seeds spread around by scarfing down fruits and plant material and plopping out fertilized seed cakes all over the land2. Check out Hoot’s emu poop glamour shots and marvel at those long-legged seed dispersing machines, emus.

emu_poop_bhr

_____

Check our facts!

1) Mccoy, N. (2009) The Geographical Mosaic of Myrmecochory in a Global Biodiversity Hotspot and the Fate of Myrmecochorous Seeds Dispersed by a Keystone Seed Disperser. (Master’s Thesis) Department of Biology, North Carolina State University.

2) Calviño-Cancela, M., R. Dunn, R., Van Etten, E. J. B. and B. Lamont, B. (2006), Emus as non-standard seed dispersers and their potential for long-distance dispersal. Ecography, 29: 632–640. doi: 10.1111/j.0906-7590.2006.04677.x

By |April 30th, 2014|Uncategorized|3 Comments