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How the Body Works

How the Body Works | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it
The human body is an amazing machine. Learn more about it through movies, quizzes, articles, and more.

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South American Gecko found to be "unsinkable" and able to walk comfortably on water due to hydrophobicity of skin

South American Gecko found to be "unsinkable" and able to walk comfortably on water due to hydrophobicity of skin | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it

At a million times smaller than a T-Rex, the tiny Brazilian pygmy gecko could easily drown in the smallest of puddles… if its skin wasn’t water repellent, that is. Incredibly it doesn’t even break the surface and can comfortably walk long stretches over water without sinking through its surface.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald, Aulde de Barbuat
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Slow-motion world for small animals - feeling for time is relative

Slow-motion world for small animals - feeling for time is relative | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it

Smaller animals tend to perceive time in slow-motion, helping them to escape from larger predators, a study finds. This means that they can observe movement on a finer timescale than bigger creatures, allowing them to escape from lager predators.

 

Insects and small birds, for example, can see more information in one second than a larger animal such as an elephant. In humans, too, there is variation among individuals. Athletes, for example, can often process visual information more quickly. An experienced goalkeeper would therefore be quicker than others in observing where a ball comes from. The speed at which humans absorb visual information is also age-related. Younger people can react more quickly than older people, and this ability falls off further with increasing age.

 

From a human perspective, our ability to process visual information limits our ability to drive cars or fly planes any faster than we currently do in Formula 1, where these guys are pushing the limits of what is humanly possible. To go any quicker would require either computer assistance, or enhancement of our visual system, either through drugs or ultimately implants.

 

Some deep-sea isopods (a type of marine woodlouse) have the slowest recorded reaction of all, and can only see a light turning off and on four times per second "before they get confused and see it as being constantly on.

 

Having eyes that send updates to the brain at much higher frequencies than our eyes do is of no value if the brain cannot process that information equally quickly. Hence, this work highlights the impressive capabilities of even the smallest animal brains. Flies might not be deep thinkers but they can make good decisions very quickly.


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Room 8's curator insight, September 18, 2013 4:46 PM

This is a great article.

Connor Keesee's curator insight, October 9, 2013 12:22 PM

Connor Keesee Animal Science, Gold 3

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Worms regrow their decapitated heads, along with the memories inside

Worms regrow their decapitated heads, along with the memories inside | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it

Some memories just won't die — and some can even be transferred to a whole new brain. Researchers at Tufts University have determined that a small, yellow worm known as a planarian, which has long been studied for its regenerative properties, is able to grow back a lot more than just its body parts: after the worm's small, snake-like head and neck are removed, its body will even regrow a brain that's capable of quickly relearning its lost skills.

 

The researchers tested the memory of planarians by measuring how long it took for them to reach food in a controlled setting. The small worms dislike open spaces and bright lights — but they had been trained to ignore it so that they could find their meals. Even after decapitation, worms that had gone through training were able to overcome their fears and start eating much faster than worms that hadn't been trained. However, the memories didn't come back immediately. Each worm still had to be reminded of its earlier knowledge, though it only took a single lesson for it to all come back.

 

Why this happens is still unclear. Planarians' brains control their behavior, but the researchers suggest that some of their memories might be stored elsewhere in their body. Alternatively, they suggest that the worms' original brain may have modified their nervous systems, and their nervous systems may have then altered how the new brains formed during regrowth.


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Vloasis's curator insight, July 10, 2013 9:22 PM

This university study was done just up the street from me.  Jeez...worms regrowing heads and brains and memories right in my own neighborhood.  But can they remember what they did when they were drunk?

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Veritable Invasion or Veritable Wonder? Lessons around Brood II 17-Year Cicadas

Veritable Invasion or Veritable Wonder? Lessons around Brood II 17-Year Cicadas | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it

LOTS  of great links and teaching resources about a wildlife wonder which may start entomologists and biologists vocations.

 

Also,  Among the resources listed, :

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/02/opinion/here-comes-the-cicadas-buzz.html?_r=1&

 

 "Over the next few weeks, as soil temperatures reach a sustained temperature of 64 degrees, cicadas from Connecticut to North Carolina will emerge from their subterranean world for the first time since they burrowed underground as nymphs in 1996, returning in numbers that dwarf those other spectacles. The buzzing of males will be heard in a mating ritual that stretches back to at least the ice age. Then, within six weeks, they will all be dead, hundreds of millions, if not billions, of them, and their progeny will not be seen until 2030.

 

These are the Brood II cicadas, one of the longest living insects in the world, seen only once every 17 years along the East Coast........."

 

And also check the fascinating video A2, B1 pre-intermediate, intermediate and over:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/10/cicadas-17-year-swarm-new-jersey

The exceptional documentary ( no commentaries)

http://youtu.be/ICDdTBgqYt0

 

-- this interesting New York Times article https://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/02/opinion/here-comes-the-cicadas-buzz.html?_r=1&

 

There is an OFFICIAL WEBSITE (A MUST VISIT) (www.magicicada.org) devoted to the magicicada Brood II.

Check the links & teaching resources.


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Meryl Jaffe, PhD's comment, June 14, 2013 12:12 AM
Thanks for scoop!
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Expedition to Southeast Suriname Uncovers 60 New Species

Expedition to Southeast Suriname Uncovers 60 New Species | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it
A team of scientists ventures into unexplored wilderness.

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Orangutans plan their travel route up to one day in advance and communicate it to other members of their clan

Orangutans plan their travel route up to one day in advance and communicate it to other members of their clan | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it
Male orangutans plan their travel route up to one day in advance and communicate it to other members of their species. In order to attract females and repel male rivals, they call in the direction in which they are going to travel.

 

In order to attract females and repel male rivals, they call in the direction in which they are going to travel. Anthropologists at the University of Zurich have found that not only captive, but also wild-living orangutans make use of their planning ability.

 

For a long time it was thought that only humans had the ability to anticipate future actions, whereas animals are caught in the here and now. But in recent years, clever experiments with great apes in zoos have shown that they do remember past events and can plan for their future needs. Anthropologists at the University of Zurich have now investigated whether wild apes also have this skill, following them for several years through the dense tropical swamplands of Sumatra.

 

Orangutans generally journey through the forest alone, but they also maintain social relationships. Adult males sometimes emit loud 'long calls' to attract females and repel rivals. Their cheek pads act as a funnel for amplifying the sound in the same way as a megaphone. Females that only hear a faint call come closer in order not to lose contact. Non-dominant males on the other hand hurry in the opposite direction if they hear the call coming loud and clear in their direction.

 

"To optimize the effect of these calls, it thus would make sense for the male to call in the direction of his future whereabouts, if he already knew about them," explains Carel van Schaik. "We then actually observed that the males traveled for several hours in approximately the same direction as they had called."

 

In extreme cases, long calls made around nesting time in the evening predicted the travel direction better than random until the evening of the next day.Carel van Schaik and his team conclude that orangutans plan their route up to a day ahead. In addition, the males often announced changes in travel direction with a new, better-fitting long call. The researchers also found that in the morning, the other orangutans reacted correctly to the long call of the previous evening, even if no new long call was emitted.

 

"Our study makes it clear that wild orangutans do not simply live in the here and now, but can imagine a future and even announce their plans. In this sense, then, they have become a bit more like us," concludes Carel van Schaik.

 


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Nitrogen fixing trees help to quicken the pace of reforestation

Nitrogen fixing trees help to quicken the pace of reforestation | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it

Researchers have discovered that trees can switch on their ability to fix Nitrogen from the atmosphere with a little help from the Rhizobium bacteria. This finding has a huge implication on the ongoing projects of reforestation on denuded lands.

 

A study was carried out on a square mile area of the Panama Canal watershed where the forest was recovering after clearing activities. Different land use options were studied and the carbon storage, runoff and biodiversity were carefully monitored. A comparison was made between mature tropical forests, native trees in forest restoration plots and abandoned pastureland.

 

Jefferson Hall, one of the researchers, said, “This is the first solid case showing how nitrogen fixation by tropical trees directly affects the rate of carbon recovery after agricultural fields are abandoned. Trees turn nitrogen fixation on and off according to the need for nitrogen in the system.”

 

It was observed that trees which were able to fix the atmospheric nitrogen were also able to add carbon nine times quicker than ordinary trees. In fact Nitrogen fixing trees were able to add 50,000 kilograms of carbon per hectare during the first 12 years of growth.

 

Tropical forests act as carbon sinks drawing away carbon from the air. As the scourge of the Global warming increases it is important that freed land which has been denuded by industrial or agricultural use be quickly repaired and reforested. Nitrogen fixing trees will help to quicken the pace of reforestation.

 


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Cave-dwelling glowworms observe their neighbors and synchronize their luminescence cycles to match one another

Cave-dwelling glowworms observe their neighbors and synchronize their luminescence cycles to match one another | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it

The silk webs of glowworms (Arachnocampa tasmaniensis) look like diamond chandeliers, their glowing threads dangling from dark cave ceilings to attract and snare flying insects. A new study reveals that unlike rainforest glowworms, these cave-dwelling larvae of fungus gnats synchronize their glowing patterns so the colony shines brightest during the day. After collecting two species of Arachnocampa larva from Australia,one from a cave in southern Tasmania and one from a rainforest in Queensland, scientists recreated their environments in the lab and allowed the creatures to build their webs. Then they filmed the bioluminescence patterns of each species throughout the day. The cave-dwelling glowworms observe their neighbors and synchronize their cycles of luminescence to match one another , while the rainforest species do not, the team reports this month in Integrative and Comparative Biology. And though the rainforest species shine brightest at night, the cave dwellers peak during the day—a strategy the researchers think may help the species ensnare the most prey.


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