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The Artful Amoeba

The Artful Amoeba

A Blog About the Weird Wonderfulness of Life on Earth
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    Jennifer Frazer Jennifer Frazer is a AAAS Science Journalism Award-winning science writer. She has degrees in biology, plant pathology/mycology, and science writing, and has spent many happy hours studying life in situ. Follow on Twitter @JenniferFrazer.
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  • Plankton Astound With Their Many Ways of Bustin’ a Move


    Though plankton drift with the ocean currents, that doesn’t mean they’re incapable of any movement. Many of them can move to find food or mates, and they do so in some surprising and sometimes entertaining ways. Just have a look at this sampler of dinoflagellaes, ciliates, rotifers, cladocerans, and copepod larvae and adults put together [...]

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    Origin of Mysterious Portuguese Mathematical and Geographical Tiles Revealed


    A few months ago I wrote about some mystifying mathematical and geographic tiles I encountered at the National Tile Museum in Lisbon, Portugal. Their accompanying label gave no clue to who had made them or why. Several readers subsequently wrote to tell me what they knew about these tiles. Thank you to everyone who did [...]

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    Amborella, the Ancient Shrub with the Hoard of Foreign Genes


    Amborella is a humble shrub with a noble pedigree: it is the first plant to have split from the rest of the flowering plants after their evolution that has survived to the present day. Its rather rudimentary-looking flowers and evergreen leaves may be testimony to that fact. This wasn’t known until relatively recently, though, partly because the plant dwells on only one island in the world — Grand Terre in the remote French archipelago of New Caledonia in the South Pacific — and partly because it was only when we got a look at its DNA that we could see this.

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    Fern Frozen in Time by Volcanic Flow Reveals Stunning Detail


    It defies belief, but a 180 million year old fern fossil unearthed in Sweden is so exquisitely preserved that it is possible to see its cells dividing. So pristine is the fossil, reported scientists from the Swedish Museum of Natural History in the journal Science in March, that it is possible for them to estimate [...]

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    Wonderful Things: The Starry Night Beneath the Caribbean Sea


    One of the most astounding events of my life was immediately preceded by one of the scariest: I turned out my dive light in the ocean at night.

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    Cosmic Karma: Mosquitoes Have Flying, Blood-Sucking Parasites of Their Own


    In 1922, a scientist named F.W. Edwards published a paper describing a remarkable thing: a flying, biting midge collected from the Malay Peninsula in southeast Asia that he named Culicoides anophelis. What made the midge was remarkable was the thing it bit: mosquitoes.

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    Deep Sea Explorations Amaze with Live Stream Video


    On Tuesday I wrote about my experience diving in a deep-sea submarine, but going on right now are two live-streaming deep-sea expeditions that allow you incredible access to the deep sea from the comfort of your own home. If you really want to know what the deep sea looks like, you can get an incredible [...]

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    551 Feet Under the Sea: What It’s Like to Ride in a Deep-Sea Sub


    I heard a screwing noise as the hatch of our sub was sealed. A bright orange hose from topside that had been inserted into the sub to blow fresh air as we loaded had been removed, and the interior felt warm and damp and close. All was still. Though I’d worried how I’d feel at [...]

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    How To Visit the Deep Sea


    For at least the last 15 years, I have dreamed of travelling to the deep sea. If you read this blog regularly or have ever watched a documentary about the deep sea, you understand why. As marine biologist (and co-sighter of the first underwater giant squid) Edith Widder says in one of her many fascinating [...]

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    Lone Survivor? Weird New Animal May Be Long Sought Living Ediacaran


    It’s not every day a new animal is discovered that could shake up the roots of animal taxonomy and simultaneously form its own new phylum, the top classification in the Animal Kingdom, but today is such a day. The new animals – Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dengrogramma discoides – are not yet certain to represent a [...]

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