This tag is associated with 5 posts

An Ancient Whale Graveyard’s Culprit: Toxic Algae

In 2010, the fossilized skeletons of several large marine animals were discovered in Chile during a highway-expansion project. After studying the fossils, scientists discovered that the animals had actually been stranded over time, some 6-9 million years ago, during four distinct events. What caused the repeated mass strandings and deaths? The most likely culprit turned … Continue reading »

Mistletoe: A Parasitic, Poisonous Plant

Have you ever wondered why it’s a tradition to hang up some mistletoe around this time of year and kiss under it? Or what about the mistletoe plant itself – where does it normally live when it’s not hanging above our doorways? While we now often associate this tradition with Christmastime, like many “Christmas traditions,” … Continue reading »

Asian Giant Hornets – Their Venom Dissolves Skin

The title about says it all. Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) are pretty terrifying – they’re the largest hornets in the world, reaching around 5 cm (2 inches) in length, or about the size of a person’s thumb. And they can kill a person if they get stung enough. They live in parts of Asia … Continue reading »

Assassins of the Bug World

When thinking of fierce little critters, poisonous spiders often come to mind. Their fear-inducing image is all over right now for the spooky Halloween season. But there’s actually a group of insects that hunts spiders – the aptly-named assassin bugs. And how they accomplish this feat is quite amusing – the assassin bugs will often … Continue reading »

Poisonous Animals May Be Responsible for Trypophobia, or Fear of Holes

Phobias are fascinating. It makes sense that a person would avoid, or even fear, something, but for the response to be completely involuntary and irrational; that’s where it gets interesting. What evolutionary advantage might a certain phobia have given someone generations ago? Geoff Cole, at the University of Essex, tried to answer this question for … Continue reading »