Sperm packages of ungodly size, genitals that double as a souped-up stomach, and an unexpected set of chewing jaws

And all of those are found in just one species, the Pieris rapaethe cabbage white butterfly.

In an wonderful piece over at the Atlantic, we learn about the crazy sex life/organs of this very common butterfly.

I was enthralled reading the whole thing, but the main investigator is quoted below, is really why I’m sharing this.

“Jumping spiders with telescope eyes are singing and dancing to impress their mates. That butterfly on your kale has a chewing jaw in its reproductive tract that helps it to regain control over its own reproductive timing. It is this ability of life to continually surprise us that brings me such joy as a scientist. And it’s my hope that, in some small way, my work can return some childlike wonder to the daily lives of others. It is only through falling back in love with nature that we stand any chance of saving it.” –Nathan Morehouse

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All the trees will die, and so will you

The title of this post is not my own, but it kind of has a point. Not “everything dies” but rather, a lot more apocalyptic.

A brown-black beetle (the polyphagous shot hole borer) breeds inside trees. It drills networks of tunnels, which then get infected by a fungus it carries to feed it’s young. Eventually the tree dies, the beetle moves on and the whole cycle starts again.

This would be a cute horror story, if the beetle wasn’t on track to kill 26.8 million trees across Southern California. Which is going to directly link to the death of humans. Interested? Find out why here.

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Crazy Giant Bug Invasion

This title is not as excessive as it might seem at first. So let’s break it down.

The cicadas that live in DC are on a 17-year cycle. That means once every 17 years, they all emerge at once, make a ton of noise, leave their exoskeletons everywhere, mate, and go back into the ground. It’s pandemonium when it happens. If you want to know more, check out cicadamania.com.

The giant bug swarm is not due back till 2021, but some of these giant menaces are climbing out early. Four years early actually, as in, right now. Scientists aren’t entirely sure why this is happening. What to know more about the confused (“Crazy”), larger than mosquitoes (“Giant”) insects (“Bugs”) that are showing up before their time (“Invasion”)? Read about it here.

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The Case of the Poisoned Hunters

Back in the sixties, a group of hunters in Oregon were found dead at their campsite, and the only clue to what had killed them was – there was a newt that was boiled in their coffee pot.

Want to know how this is related to coevolution, or learn about the awesome work being done by rockstar evolutionary biologist Joel McGlothlin from Virginia Tech?

Check out the Pulse of the Planet audio program. 

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The most important (transitional) fossil you’ve never heard of

I LOVE ME SOME TRANSITIONAL FOSSILS!

But this one is particularly interesting, as it fills a crucial hole in the fossil record and demonstrates how four-limbed creatures became established on land. Found on the Scottish border, it’s called (wait for it…) Tiny.

Read about it here! _95576018_fa89156d-5853-4015-88e4-1e18fea86279.jpg

 

Caves made from Giant Sloths

Local geologists in South America were investigating a series of caves that didn’t look anything like caves they had seen before. They didn’t look natural.
Well it turns out that they may be made by the long extinct giant sloths that used to roam the landscape. Or other megafauna that have long since gone extinct. Captivated? Read about it here. 
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