Lace Bug Line Up
These beautiful specimens are generally considered to be pests in the garden, introduced accidentally from Japan years ago. They are striking insects nonetheless, with their intricate wings resembling stain glass windows. 
Photo credit:
Oregon Department of Agriculture
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Lace Bug Line Up

These beautiful specimens are generally considered to be pests in the garden, introduced accidentally from Japan years ago. They are striking insects nonetheless, with their intricate wings resembling stain glass windows. 

Photo credit:

Oregon Department of Agriculture

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Dolphins squeal with delight
If you are familiar with the antics of Flipper or the charismatic creatures at Seaworld, this research is probably not going to shock you, but for Sam Ridgeway, a researcher who has spent decades studying these animals, it validates a suspicion he has had for years. 
During the numerous experiments he conducted on dolphin behavior, Ridgeway often noticed that his animals seemed to emit little cries after receiving a treat. These cries sounded remarkably similar to a child’s squeal, which prompted him to name them “victory squeals.” Scientists liken these sounds to a bat’s feeding buzz, which is a series of echolocation pulses used to locate and capture prey. Dolphins and whales have their own version of a feeding buzz, increasing their squeals as they hone in on a meal. Unlike bats however, they don’t stop when the meal is over. Ridgeway suspects that the timing of their cries signals an emotional expression.
In order to support this hypothesis, he analyzed decades of research looking to find a correlation between the timing of the squeal and the release of dopamine, which signals pleasure in the brain. In terrestrial animals, who have well established dopamine reward systems, it takes about 100-200 ms after a reward for dopamine to be released. Ridgeway postulated that if the delay between the reward and the victory squeal was longer than the dopamine release timing, then the cries could indicate emotion.  His careful analysis showed that dolphins emit a victory squeal on average 150 ms after a reward, and whales an average of 250 ms. “We think we have demonstrated that it [the victory squeal] has emotional content,” he said about the results.
His research will be published in the Journal of Experimental Biology today, August 13, 2014. To read more see the original research:
Video credit: US Navy
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Psychedelic Comb Jellies
From Monterey Bay Aquarium:
"Comb jellies are beautiful, oval-shaped animals with eight rows of tiny comblike plates that they beat to move themselves through the water. As they swim, the comb rows diffract light to produce a shimmering, rainbow effect. Voracious predators on other jellies, some can expand their stomachs to hold prey nearly half their own size.
Jellies are simple creatures with few specialized organs. Most jellies can detect chemical traces in the water that allow them to locate food, and many are equipped with a gravity-sensitive structure, called a statocyst, that gives them a sense of up and down in the water.”
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Psychedelic Comb Jellies

From Monterey Bay Aquarium:

"Comb jellies are beautiful, oval-shaped animals with eight rows of tiny comblike plates that they beat to move themselves through the water. As they swim, the comb rows diffract light to produce a shimmering, rainbow effect. Voracious predators on other jellies, some can expand their stomachs to hold prey nearly half their own size.

Jellies are simple creatures with few specialized organs. Most jellies can detect chemical traces in the water that allow them to locate food, and many are equipped with a gravity-sensitive structure, called a statocyst, that gives them a sense of up and down in the water.”

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Veined Octopus
“The veined or “coconut” octopus will pick up anything at its disposal to make a home on the road. This includes old cans, bottles, boots, shells and yes—coconuts. The veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) is found in Indo-Pacific waters, has a fist-sized body and lives to be a year old. Common prey items include crustaceans and small fishes.”
From Monterey Bay Aquarium
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Veined Octopus

The veined or “coconut” octopus will pick up anything at its disposal to make a home on the road. This includes old cans, bottles, boots, shells and yes—coconuts. The veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) is found in Indo-Pacific waters, has a fist-sized body and lives to be a year old. Common prey items include crustaceans and small fishes.”

From Monterey Bay Aquarium

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Bioluminescent Ocean
This amazing photo was captured in Barra de Valizas in Uruguay. It is one of the best places in the world to view the night sky. On this particularly dark night, bioluminescent organisms were lighting up the ocean. Photograph by Fefo Bouvier, see his website here.
From National Geographic:
"Bioluminescence is light produced by a chemical reactionwithin a living organism. Bioluminescence is a type ofchemiluminescence, which is simply the term for a chemical reaction where light is produced. (Bioluminescence is chemiluminescence that takes place inside a living organism.) 

Bioluminescence is a “cold light.” Cold light means less than 20% of the light generates thermal radiation, or heat.

Most bioluminescent organisms are found in the ocean. These bioluminescent marine species include fish, bacteria, and jellies. Some bioluminescent organisms, including fireflies and fungi, are found on land. There are almost no bioluminescent organisms native to freshwater habitats.”

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Bioluminescent Ocean

This amazing photo was captured in Barra de Valizas in Uruguay. It is one of the best places in the world to view the night sky. On this particularly dark night, bioluminescent organisms were lighting up the ocean. Photograph by Fefo Bouvier, see his website here.

From National Geographic:

"Bioluminescence is light produced by a chemical reactionwithin a living organism. Bioluminescence is a type ofchemiluminescence, which is simply the term for a chemical reaction where light is produced. (Bioluminescence is chemiluminescence that takes place inside a living organism.) 
Bioluminescence is a “cold light.” Cold light means less than 20% of the light generates thermal radiation, or heat.
Most bioluminescent organisms are found in the ocean. These bioluminescent marine species include fish, bacteria, and jellies. Some bioluminescent organisms, including fireflies and fungi, are found on land. There are almost no bioluminescent organisms native to freshwater habitats.”
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What do Barrel Jellyfish And Supercomputers Have in Common?
From Discovery News:
“To locate the best possible meal in the vast waters of its marine habitat, the barrel jellyfish (Rhizostoma octopus) uses a strategy most commonly associated with the world’s fastest supercomputers — an approach known as fast simulated annealing.
For mathematicians, fast simulated annealing is an algorithm, implemented by a supercomputer, which can find optimal solutions to complex problems in a relatively short amount of time. For jellyfish, fast simulated annealing is a highly evolved search strategy categorized by a series of predictable movements that bring the jelly closer and closer to large numbers of plankton, its preferred prey.”
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What do Barrel Jellyfish And Supercomputers Have in Common?

From Discovery News:

To locate the best possible meal in the vast waters of its marine habitat, the barrel jellyfish (Rhizostoma octopus) uses a strategy most commonly associated with the world’s fastest supercomputers — an approach known as fast simulated annealing.

For mathematicians, fast simulated annealing is an algorithm, implemented by a supercomputer, which can find optimal solutions to complex problems in a relatively short amount of time. For jellyfish, fast simulated annealing is a highly evolved search strategy categorized by a series of predictable movements that bring the jelly closer and closer to large numbers of plankton, its preferred prey.”

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The Deadly Lion’s Mane Jellyfish
From Life of Sea:
"Lion’s Mane Jellyfish is the largest jellyfish in the world. Giant Jellyfish or Winter Jellyfish are other name of this creature. The range is limited to the cold, boreal waters of the Arctic, North Atlantic and North Pacific Ocean, but rarely found farther south than 42 ° north latitude. Similar jellyfish, which can be the same species known to inhabit waters nearAustralia and New Zealand.”
These are deadly jellies. Their stings can cause anaphylactic shock, which is rare for a jellyfish sting. 
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The Deadly Lion’s Mane Jellyfish

From Life of Sea:

"Lion’s Mane Jellyfish is the largest jellyfish in the world. Giant Jellyfish or Winter Jellyfish are other name of this creature. The range is limited to the coldboreal waters of the ArcticNorth Atlantic and North Pacific Oceanbut rarely found farther south than 42 ° north latitudeSimilar jellyfishwhich can be the same species known to inhabit waters nearAustralia and New Zealand.

These are deadly jellies. Their stings can cause anaphylactic shock, which is rare for a jellyfish sting. 

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Comb Jellies: One of the oldest creatures on earth
DNA analysis reveals that comb jellies, ctenophores, actually pre-date the emergence of sponges, even though they are more complex organisms.
“Ctenophores swim through the sea with iridescent cilia, and snare prey with sticky tentacles. They have nerves, muscles, tissue layers and light sensors, all of which sponges lack.”
Read more here.
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Comb Jellies: One of the oldest creatures on earth

DNA analysis reveals that comb jellies, ctenophores, actually pre-date the emergence of sponges, even though they are more complex organisms.

Ctenophores swim through the sea with iridescent cilia, and snare prey with sticky tentacles. They have nerves, muscles, tissue layers and light sensors, all of which sponges lack.”

Read more here.

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Aye Aye Aye
"The Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is a strepsirrhine native to Madagascar that combines rodent-like teeth with a long, thin middle finger to fill the same ecological niche as a woodpecker. It is the world’s largest nocturnal primate, and is characterized by its unique method of finding food; it taps on trees to find grubs, then gnaws holes in the wood and inserts its elongated middle finger to pull the grubs out.
Daubentonia is the only genus in the family Daubentoniidae and infraorder Chiromyiformes. The Aye-aye is the only extant member of the genus (although it is currently an endangered species); a second species (Daubentonia robusta) was exterminated over the last few centuries.”
More here
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Aye Aye Aye

"The Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is a strepsirrhine native to Madagascar that combines rodent-like teeth with a long, thin middle finger to fill the same ecological niche as a woodpecker. It is the world’s largest nocturnal primate, and is characterized by its unique method of finding food; it taps on trees to find grubs, then gnaws holes in the wood and inserts its elongated middle finger to pull the grubs out.

Daubentonia is the only genus in the family Daubentoniidae and infraorder Chiromyiformes. The Aye-aye is the only extant member of the genus (although it is currently an endangered species); a second species (Daubentonia robusta) was exterminated over the last few centuries.”

More here

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How Do Spiders Spin Silk?
From Science Daily:
“Spider silk is an impressive material; lightweight and stretchy yet stronger than steel. But the challenge that spiders face to produce this substance is even more formidable. Silk proteins, called spidroins, must convert from a soluble form to solid fibers at ambient temperatures, with water as a solvent, and at high speed. How do spiders achieve this astounding feat? New research shows how the silk formation process is regulated.”
Spidroins consist of 3,500 amino acids that get converted into silk in the spiders spinning duct. Scientists have recently uncovered the mechanism by which this process takes place, and have named it the “’lock and trigger’ model for spider silk formation, in which gradual pairing up of the N-terminal domains locks spidroins into a network of many protein molecules, while the changes of structure in the C-terminal domains could trigger the rapid polymerization of spidroins into fibers”
All of this takes place under the influence of a dramatic pH gradient in the spiders spinning duct, which fosters the rapid polymerization of these proteins.
To learn more, take a look at the original research paper here.
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How Do Spiders Spin Silk?

From Science Daily:

Spider silk is an impressive material; lightweight and stretchy yet stronger than steel. But the challenge that spiders face to produce this substance is even more formidable. Silk proteins, called spidroins, must convert from a soluble form to solid fibers at ambient temperatures, with water as a solvent, and at high speed. How do spiders achieve this astounding feat? New research shows how the silk formation process is regulated.”

Spidroins consist of 3,500 amino acids that get converted into silk in the spiders spinning duct. Scientists have recently uncovered the mechanism by which this process takes place, and have named it the “’lock and trigger’ model for spider silk formation, in which gradual pairing up of the N-terminal domains locks spidroins into a network of many protein molecules, while the changes of structure in the C-terminal domains could trigger the rapid polymerization of spidroins into fibers”

All of this takes place under the influence of a dramatic pH gradient in the spiders spinning duct, which fosters the rapid polymerization of these proteins.

To learn more, take a look at the original research paper here.

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