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Topics about "defence" include:

  1. Innate and adaptive immune systems
    A vile cough, soaring temperature? When attacked by nasty microbes, our immune system comes in handy. Surprisingly (or not), plants have come up with a very similar solution to dealing with pathogens, but independently...    

  2. Wire plants, moas and elephant birds
    Madagascar and New Zealand were once home to giant herbivorous birds. And the plants have not forgotten...    

  3. Pufferfish (and inflation)
    Pufferfish are some of the most extraordinary fish to have evolved, especially because of their capacity to swallow water and inflate themselves to something like a football. Not only that but some representatives can be deadly to the unwary diner...

Topics containing the search term "defence" are:

  1. Defence in frogs: toxins and camouflage
    The many striking examples of convergence most famously include the case of mimicry, but the question of defence also extends to the use of toxins (and venoms), such as alkaloids, where we also find molecular convergence.

  2. Why emit light? The many functions of bioluminescence
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  3. Light producing chemicals: how to make bioluminescence
    The most remarkable luciferin in terms of its distribution is known as coelenterazine. This nitrogen-ring based molecule is found in nine separate groups, ranging from radiolarians to fish.

  4. Bioluminescence
    Flying through the air on a summer's evening or sparkling in the ocean you may see magical flashes of light that signal some of nature's most enchanting creatures, those that are bioluminescent.

  5. Vibrational communication in insects and spiders
    Some spiders have evolved a most remarkable method of capturing other spiders – they imitate the vibrations of insects caught in their victim’s web. And this is only one of numerous intriguing examples of vibrational communication in arthropods…

  6. Foregut fermentation in mammals
    Foregut fermentation is best known from the ruminants, such as cattle, deer and giraffes, that regurgitate and rechew their food to aid microbial digestion. However, they are not the only mammals to have evolved this digestive strategy...

  7. Brood parasitism in cuckoos and other birds
    Obligate brood parasitism has evolved several times independently in birds. Apart from the cuckoos, it can be found in four other, only distantly related families.

  8. Agriculture in beetles
    Think of weevils and most likely you'll think of spoiled food. But some weevils have turned to farming...

  9. Foam nests in animals
    Nests crop up everywhere, but one made out of foam? Might not sound like a great idea, but it is. And no surprise, it has evolved several times...

  10. Pufferfish (and inflation)
    Pufferfish are some of the most extraordinary fish to have evolved, especially because of their capacity to swallow water and inflate themselves to something like a football. Not only that but some representatives can be deadly to the unwary diner...

  11. Mimicry in fungi
    Insects pollinating flowers are a familiar sight. But what happens when the "flower" is actually a fungus? Still "pollination", but now it is fungal spores. Read on to learn more about the fungi that mimic flowers...

  12. Anointing in mammals
    The strategy of anointing the body with the scent of a more dangerous animal has evolved independently several times, including in rodents, hegdehogs and tenrecs.

  13. Autumn leaf colouration
    Autumn colours are likely to be adaptive, as the 'default' is simply to remain green up to leaf fall, and both red and yellow leaf colouration have evolved independently on many occasions in gymnosperms and woody angiosperms.

  14. Tetrodotoxin
    Not many foods served in a restaurant can kill you, but pufferfish is the exception. Tetrodotoxin, the toxin responsible for such culinary fatalities, reveals a fascinating story of convergent evolution...

  15. Thanatosis (feigning death) in spiders and insects
    Beetles that "play possum"? A rather interesting example of convergence…

  16. Ink production in cephalopods and gastropods
    A series of striking convergences can be found in the sea-hares (Aplysia), a group of gastropods and only remotely related to the cephalopods.  Not only do they emit ink clouds (the colour is derived from ingested red algae), but they also employ chemical cues that assist in defense.

  17. Drinking adaptations in desert lizards
    Both Moloch horridus and [...] Phrynosoma cornutum have the remarkable ability to transport water over their skin’s surface to the mouth where drinking occurs. Sherbrooke et al. (2007) Zoomorphology, vol. 126, p. 89

  18. Venom in mammals (and other synapsids)
    Beware the venomous shrew! Yes, venomous. And convergent on some formidable lizards...

  19. Wire plants, moas and elephant birds
    Madagascar and New Zealand were once home to giant herbivorous birds. And the plants have not forgotten...    

  20. Innate and adaptive immune systems
    A vile cough, soaring temperature? When attacked by nasty microbes, our immune system comes in handy. Surprisingly (or not), plants have come up with a very similar solution to dealing with pathogens, but independently...    

  21. Biological uses of silk: from webs to ballooning
    What material is so versatile that it can be used for capturing prey, building nests, communication and even cleaning? The answer: that most remarkable of biomaterials - silk.

  22. Lysozyme
    Lysozymes are common antibacterial enzymes that protect our eyes and nose from infection, but some animals have recruited them for a rather different purpose...

  23. Enzymes: convergence on active sites and reaction types
    Enzymes make the world go round, each an evolutionary marvel - and convergent.

  24. Birds: insights into convergence
    Intriguing ecological and morphological parallels can be found among the Neoaves. Many of these forms were initially believed to be each other's closest relatives, but are now widely recognised as classic examples of convergence. Think how similar swifts and swallows are, but they are only distantly related.

  25. Gut fermentation in herbivorous animals
    Ever tried eating a newspaper? Don't. Plant cell walls contain cellulose, which is notoriously difficult to digest. Considering that all vertebrates lack the enzymes to attack this polysaccharide, how do so many of them manage to survive on a plant diet?

  26. Tool use in birds
    What animals can drop stones into a water-filled tube to bring floating food within reach or bend wire to form a hook? Obviously chimpanzees? No, New Caledonian crows have evolved sophisticated tool use too.

  27. Electric fish: insights into convergence
    Ever seen an electric eel in an aquarium? Don’t dare putting your hand in the tank...

  28. Beetles: insights into convergence
    The beetles are probably the most diverse animal group on earth, so it is not at all surprising that they provide many fascinating insights into convergence.

  29. Agriculture in ants: leaf-cutters (attines) and non-attines
    In some species, special squads leave the nest early each day, ascend the tree-trunks and then spend hours cutting out pieces of leaf that are dropped to other units on the ground.

  30. Crustaceans: insights into convergence
    Whilst predominantly marine, quite a number of crustaceans have invaded freshwater habitats and even more interestingly a few demonstrate terrestrialization, effectively freeing themselves from their aquatic ancestry.

  31. Haemocyanin in arthropods and molluscs
    The degree of similarity between the active sites in arthropod and molluscan haemocyanin has been called “remarkable” and “startling”, but actually suggests that wherever in the universe life employs copper for aerobic respiration it will call upon haemocyanin.