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The Artful Amoeba

The Artful Amoeba

A Blog About the Weird Wonderfulness of Life on Earth

  • Starfish Show Tracking Tags Who's Boss [Video]

    Starfish Show Tracking Tags Who's Boss [Video]

    By Jennifer Frazer | June 23, 2015 |

    A funny thing happened when two Danish college students injected tracking tags into starfish. The tracking tags kept mysteriously winding up on the bottom of the tank. The students – Trine Bottos Olsen and Frederik Ekholm Gaardsted Christensen -- tell the story far better than I can … P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Starfish are famous for their ability to regenerate a disconcertingly large chunk of their bodies if dismembered. […]

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  • Playing in a Deep-Sea Brine Pool Is Fun, as Long as You're an ROV [Video]

    Playing in a Deep-Sea Brine Pool Is Fun, as Long as You're an ROV [Video]

    By Jennifer Frazer | June 18, 2015 |

    The Gulf of Mexico is known for many things, and sad to say, most are bad: hurricanes, oil spills ... the infamous Dead Zone . But there is a Wonder of Nature that the gulf should be known for but isn't. That would be the Brine Lakes of the Gulf of Mexico, amazingly located inside the gulf. […]

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  • Swapping Symbionts Enabled Mediterranean Lichen to Conquer the Arctic

    Swapping Symbionts Enabled Mediterranean Lichen to Conquer the Arctic

    By Jennifer Frazer | June 3, 2015 |

    In 2003, the Mediterranean coral Oculina patagonica did something that was supposed to be impossible: it destroyed bacteria that had formerly been bleaching and killing it. This was a great shock, because the prevailing wisdom is that corals do not possess immune systems like ourselves, and thus have no ability to develop immunity. […]

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  • Root Fungi Can Turn Pine Trees Into Carnivores — or at Least Accomplices

    Root Fungi Can Turn Pine Trees Into Carnivores — or at Least Accomplices

    By Jennifer Frazer | May 12, 2015 |

    Springtails are little leaping insects far too small to catch the notice of the naked human eye. But with a little magnification, some of them turn out to be adorable beyond belief. Take this clip from the BBC’s David Attenborough classic Life in the Undergrowth :   Life In The Undergrowth – Springtail Dance (music by David Poore) from David Poore on Vimeo . […]

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  • Dying Trees Can Send Food to Neighbors of Different Species via ‘Wood-Wide Web’

    By Jennifer Frazer | May 9, 2015 |

    No tree stands alone. Douglas-fir at Silver Falls State Park by Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives. Click image for source and license. No tree is an island, and no place is this truer than the forest. Hidden beneath the soil of the forest understory is a labyrinth of fungal connections between tree roots that scientists call the mycorrhizal network . […]

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  • A Five-Minute Taste of Deep Sea Exploration

    By Jennifer Frazer | May 5, 2015 |

    NOAA’s research ship Okeanos Explorer and its ROV Deep Discoverer (aka D2) wrapped up their latest exploration of the seafloor and marine canyons around Puerto Rico last week . Not all of the video logs summarizing their dives are up yet, but I thought this one gave a particularly nice taste of the geology and fantastic lifeforms the scientists encountered. […]

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  • Tube Worm Larvae Use Prickly Bacterial Flowers to Choose a Home

    By Jennifer Frazer | May 1, 2015 |

    Pseudoalteromonas luteoviolacea, showing off its surprisingly two-toned colonies in a laboratory culture dish. Image courtesy of Nicholas Shikuma Like a steaming pile of lava or the soggy soil below a melting glacier, the freshly scrubbed hull of a ship is a magnet for new life. […]

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  • Discover the Puerto Rico Trench with America’s Ocean Exploration Team

    Discover the Puerto Rico Trench with America’s Ocean Exploration Team

    By Jennifer Frazer | April 10, 2015 |

    Every two years people around the world suddenly obsessively watch odd niche sports like ice dancing, biathalon, and rhythmic gymnastics. So I wish similar enthusiasm could be summoned for the exploration dives of the Deep Discoverer , NOAA's ROV aboard the research vessel Okeanos Explorer and vehicles like it, which are streamed live on the internet. […]

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  • Glass Anchors Strengthen Sponges and Enlighten Engineers

    Glass Anchors Strengthen Sponges and Enlighten Engineers

    By Jennifer Frazer | April 8, 2015 |

    It must be the Year of the Sponge here at The Artful Amoeba , because I can't seem to write enough posts about sponges and their amazing micro-scale architecture . Below is the Sponge of the Day, and it's one I've discussed here before : Euplectella aspergillum , also called Venus's flower basket. […]

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  • The Amazing Mimicry of the Mummy Berry Fungus

    The Amazing Mimicry of the Mummy Berry Fungus

    By Jennifer Frazer | April 3, 2015 |

    Can you guess which are the mummy berries? Caleb Slemmons, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, Bugwood.org Author’s note: This is the latest post in the Wonderful Things series . You can read more about this series here . There is a fungus on our planet which is capable of not one, but two audacious and duplicitous acts: it pretends, on separate occasions, to be a flower and a pollen grain, and its performances are so successful that it manages to fool both the bumblebee and the blueberry bush. […]

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