Flotillas of fire ants add new layer of horror to post-Harvey flood havoc

What kind of fresh new horror is this? Fire ants, who’s bite is painful and itchy, don’t die when flooded. They form a flotilla using the body of dead ants. That’s right, the dead ones create a raft for the live ones to float away.

Want to have nightmares of ants crawling all over you while you are drowning in flood waters? Read more about it here!

And don’t touch the flotillas of fire ants. Kill it with fire (I’ve been told detergent is better. Less satisfying but better).

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Those are all floating fire ants. All of them.

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Should you go to graduate school?

I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been doing this academia thing for long enough that younger scientists have started asking for my advice (“starting” is the wrong word, this has been going on for awhile…).

And while I’m by no means wildly successful, I have been around long enough that I have advice to offer.

So I’m going to start a weekly series called “When I grow up” going through the different stages of the academic ladder and how to approach them/succeed.

I’m going to start with undergraduate research, but until next week (Stay tuned) I’m going to leave this article here.

More soon.

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Invasive Lionfish May Beuperfish Hybrids

It’s been more than 20 years since one of the most destructive invasive species in history was released off the coast of Florida. Originally from the Indian and Pacific Oceans, predatory lionfish have invaded the western Atlantic Ocean, spreading from the American east coast through the Caribbean to southern Brazil, devastating coastal ecosystems with their voracious appetites. Now, new research has revealed that invasive lionfish are not quite what they seem.

“Marine invasions … are a scourge,” says Brian Bowen, a geneticist at the University of Hawai‘i. “But this is an invasion of what could be a superfish.”

But a new study, recently published in the Journal of Heredity, flips the whole situation on its head.

Want to know more? Read about it here!

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Record-shattering 2.7-million-year-old ice core reveals start of the ice ages

Is anyone else tired of hearing climate deniers say “this isn’t the first ice-age, this is all part of a cycle”. No. That’s wrong.

But now we have science to prove it! Scientists announced today that a core drilled in Antarctica has yielded 2.7-million-year-old ice, an astonishing find 1.7 million years older than the previous record-holder. Bubbles in the ice contain greenhouse gases from Earth’s atmosphere at a time when the planet’s cycles of glacial advance and retreat were just beginning, potentially offering clues to what triggered the ice ages.

Want to know more? Read about it here.

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Africa’s next top animal intelligence model

Spotted hyenas are found in just about every habitat in sub-Saharan Africa including human-disturbed areas and fully urbanized ones (i.e., cities) (Yirga Abay, Bauer, Gebrihiwot, & Deckers, 2010). While most large carnivores in Africa are decreasing in number, spotted hyenas are thriving. One reason for this inconsistency may be their high degree of behavioral flexibility; they’re dietary generalists eating everything and anything from termites to elephants (Holekamp & Dloniak, 2010).

Want to know more? Read about it here.

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A new monkey flower in Shetland

Scientists have discovered a brand new flower in Shetland, it is being referred to as “Shetland’s monkeyflower”, because it is larger and its flowers are more open than previous monkeyflowers.

The flower was discovered by a team from Stirling’s department of biological and environmental sciences led by post-doctoral researcher Dr Violeta Simon-Porcar, working with associate professor Dr Mario Vallejo-Marin at Stirling and Dr James Higgins at Leicester University.

It is a beauty. Read about it here!

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