Dr. Alexander Weigand of the Goethe-University Frankfurt has described a new species of cave-dwelling snail from the Lukina Jama–Trojama cave system.
The new species, named Zospeum tholussum, is a tiny and fragile snail with a beautifully shaped dome-like semi-transparent shell. Dr. Weigand found only one living specimen of Zospeum tholussum in an unnamed large chamber at the remarkable depth of 980 m.
“The single living specimen was found in an unnamed large chamber with lots of stones, rocks and sand. A temporal small stream of running water was present close to the collecting site. Air temperature was between 3.3 – 3.5 degrees Celsius, water temperature 5.1 degrees Celsius and air humidity 100 per cent. Shells were observed beginning from 800 m depth till the bottom of the cave. Shells were generally found on layers of mud,” Dr. Weigand wrote in a paper published in the open-access journalSubterranean Biology.
All known species from the cave-dwelling genus Zospeum possess a limited ability to move. Their preference of a muddy habitat and the fact that they are usually located near the drainage system of the cave, in a close proximity to running water, however suggest that these animals are not exactly immobile. Scientists hypothesize that dispersal is achieved through passive transportation via water or larger mammals.
Roger Hanlon was following this octopus underwater and couldn't believe his eyes.
The ghost octopus can match the color and texture of its surroundings in fractions of a second by changing the size and shape of dynamic spots of pigments on their skin called chromatophores.
Chromatophores allow an octopus to blend in with all manner of underwater backdrops.
Some combination of these expandable chromatophores and reflectors underneath them allows an octopus to blend in with vegetation, rocks, or smooth surfaces almost imperceptibly. Hanlon has been studying these animals for years, and is still in awe of their camouflaging stunts. “The amazing thing is that these animals are color blind yet they are capable of creating color-match patterns,” Hanlon told Science Friday, “But we don’t know how.”
So, when science can’t tell us how something works, all we can do is be amazed. Watch the video again and revel in how awesome this tricky octopus is. It won’t get any more obvious, we promise.
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At just a molecule thick, it's a new record: The world's thinnest sheet of glass, a serendipitous discovery by scientists at Cornell and Germany's University of Ulm, is recorded for posterity in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The "pane" of glass, so impossibly thin that its individual silicon and oxygen atoms are clearly visible via electron microscopy, was identified in the lab of David A. Muller, professor of applied and engineering physics and director of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science.
The work that describes direct imaging of this thin glass was first published in January 2012 in Nano Letters, and the Guinness records officials took note. The record will now be published in the Guinness World Records 2014 Edition.
Just two atoms in thickness, the glass was an accidental discovery, Muller said. The scientists had been making graphene, a two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms in a chicken wire crystal formation, on copper foils in a quartz furnace. They noticed some "muck" on the graphene, and upon further inspection, found it to be composed of the elements of everyday glass, silicon and oxygen.
They concluded that an air leak had caused the copper to react with the quartz, also made of silicon and oxygen. This produced the glass layer on the would-be pure graphene.
Besides its sheer novelty, Muller said, the work answers an 80-year-old question about the fundamental structure of glass. Scientists, with no way to directly see it, had struggled to understand it: it behaves like a solid, but was thought to look more like a liquid. Now, the Cornell scientists have produced a picture of individual atoms of glass, and they found that it strikingly resembles a diagram drawn in 1932 by W.H. Zachariasen – a longstanding theoretical representation of the arrangement of atoms in glass.
"This is the work that, when I look back at my career, I will be most proud of," Muller said. "It's the first time that anyone has been able to see the arrangement of atoms in a glass."
What's more, two-dimensional glass could someday find a use in transistors, by providing a defect-free, ultra-thin material that could improve the performance of processors in computers and smartphones.
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