The Guillemot is a seabird that lays its eggs on a bare rock ledge on a cliff face. When an egg is accidentally dislodged, its shape causes it to spin in a tight circle, which prevents it from falling off the ledge into the sea. (Springwatch - BBC)
Can we just take a moment to appreciate how fucking awesome this is?
These eggs no doubt started out like all other avian eggs, but they had the problem of rolling off the cliffs. The eggs that were slightly more oblong tended to roll off the cliffs less, and thus the genes contained in those eggs lived to be passed on. Fast forward a few million years, and BAM tight-circle eggs.
Naturally selected for your viewing pleasure.
Natural selection is a beautiful thing
I think you mean natural sel-EGG-tion.
Sky Tapestry, by Cordella Lackey
A tapestry jewelled hangs over the night;
Have you looked up to see where it gleams?
There are rubies and sapphires and diamonds white
Interwoven with mists of lost dreams.
This tapestry ancient was hung up for you
Before Time tried to reckon with Space;
And for ages to come it will hang in the blue,
Starry jewels each one in its place.
Each star has a story, each mist is alight;
If you seek to know each priceless fold
You will treasure this tapestry hung up at night
By the Weaver of tapestries old.
Just a reminder that a cell is not a bag of water, but rather a crowded metropolis of macromolecules. The reality of cell biology, while more complicated than what your textbook shows you, is much cooler than a simple cartoon.
When you look at the inside of a cell as the crowded, semi-organized, collision-riddled mess that it really is, you’ll look at every bit of biological chemistry in a new way.
(The image of a super-crowded cytoplasm comes from this PLOS paper)
Stuff happens, occasionally.
Well done, xkcd. View the full “Frequency” comic here, it’s truly mesmerizing. I had no idea there were so many Sagittarii named Amelia who were fans of carbonated beverages.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to continue waiting for my turn signal to synchronize with that of a stranger’s, longing for that unspoken, unknown connection, that most universal element of the human experience.
I couldn’t decide whether to go with “Aww that’s sweet” or “Oh God I can’t unsee that” for the GIF announcing this week’s video, so you just get both!
I think I might be more excited about the new intro animation I’m premiering today than today’s actual video.
I stared at this GIF explaining how a four-stroke piston engine works for far longer than I care to admit.
One day you’ll have to explain to your kids that this is how we powered our cars. I imagine they’ll be all: “Whaaaa? You used the combustion of aerosolized dinosaur extractions to drive your car? The old days were weird, mom/dad.” (they will text you that of course, from their Google Glass).
Sticking plungers to chickens’ butts… you know, for science!
Chickens and other birds are modern relatives of non-avian theropods, a large order of dinosaurs that contains Tyrannosaurus rex, raptors (like Deinonychus), and other primarily bipedal reptilian beasts. They stood mostly on their two rear legs and used massive muscular tails for balance:
They weren’t all big monsters, though. There were also cute little theropods like these guys:
If you need help keeping your dino-groups straight, contrast theropods with sauropods, which include these large, long-necked, four-on-the-floor herbivores:
There’s many more sub-orders of dinosaurs, find out where more of your favorites fall on this Wikipedia page.
Seeing as chickens and their relative are the closest living thing to theropod dinosaurs, a group of biologists thought they’d be a great model to study how T. rex and friends walked. The only problem is that chickens don’t have the long tails that their dino ancestors carried around.
Solution? Stick one on and film ‘em!
The addition of a plunger-butt tail affected the bird’s center of mass and its gait, as well as where it held its bones during standing and walking. You can read more about the research at io9, or check out the original paper (open access) at PLOS One.
Previously: Check out a great TED-Ed video about the evolution of feathers in dinosaurs, narrated by Carl Zimmer.