The view from below
Copyright RedRCS of course
The Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)
… is the world’s largest nocturnal primate, of the infraorder lemuriformes (there are about 100 species of lemuriformes known) exclusively found in Madagascar. It is known for its large eyes and peculiar long middle finger, and for its use of percussive foraging. Tapping its narrow middle finger along tree trunks, it uses its excellent auditory capabilities to detect movement or hollow sections, and proceeds to utilize rodent-like incisors to gnaw through bark and access the insects inside; they effectively fill the niche of the woodpecker in Madagascar. They also forage like this for coconuts.
The aye-aye has been listed as ‘near threatened’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, due to deforestation in its habitat and, because it is seen as an omen of death to the Malagasy. The superstition of being marked fro death when an aye-aye points its middle finger at you instills a superstitious, angry fear in the Malagasy, and the animal is usually killed when spotted.
This remarkable animal is rarely studied and widely misunderstood, and is very enigmatic- it appears solitary, as it is nocturnal and sticks to higher ranges of the forest canopy, but there are cases of brave little aye-ayes inquisitively tapping and inspecting researchers.
The photos are from BBC’s Last Chance to See with Stephen Fry; the middle photos are of an aye-aye in a Madagascar zoo (using its iconic finger as a utensil, and licking fruit from Mark Carwardine’s finger!), and the first and last are rare shots of an aye-aye in its natural habitat.
Metalmark Butterfly (Lasaia agesilas), serra do itajaí national park
(photo by Claudio Dias Timm)
A Watery, Extraterrestrial Ocean Is Submerged Beneath Enceladus’s Blankets of Ice
by Allison Eck
Move over, Mars. In the search for extraterrestrial life, moons are now in the limelight.
Enceladus, one of the Ringed Planet’s icy and austere orbiters has been on astronomers’ shortlist of potential hosts of alien life, especially since they discovered geysers of ice crystals shooting out of its south pole in 2005. They hypothesized that a deep ocean the size of Lake Superior sits underneath its highly tectonic and veiny surface, potentially feeding those gushers.
Normally, liquid water couldn’t exist that far out in the solar system, but the gravitational pull of Enceladus’s neighbor, Dione, bends the icy moon’s outer layer, creating heat through friction. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has repeatedly flown by the surface of Enceladus to better understand the temperature dynamics that create these explosive geysers…
(read more: Nova Next - PBS)
Boodie (Burrowing Bettong, Lesueur’s Rat Kangaroo)
The Boodie, scientifically named Bettongia lesueur (Diprotodontia - Potoroidae), is a small Australian marsupial. Like a little kangaroo, the Boodie has well developed, muscular hind limbs and short muscular forearms. The head is small with a pointed muzzle, short rounded ears and beady black eyes.
Boodies are listed as Near Threatened because its extent of occurrence is small and it is known from just 6-8 locations. It was formerly widespread in central, southern, and south-western parts of Australia, but the species was eradicated as a result of predation by introduced animals. However, it persists in insular populations on Bernier and Dorre Islands in Shark Bay (Western Australia) and on Barrow Island off the Pilbara coast. In 1992, after an absence of 50 years, the Boodie was successfully reintroduced to the Australian mainland.
Photo credit: ©Jeremy Ringma | Locality: unknown (Australia)
tri-coloured crater lakes of Mount KelimutuIndonesia
shannon: Surface of Mars, photographed by Mars Express, 28th October 2005.
Image runs from 63°S 205°E on the Terra Sirenum about 830 km due south to 78°S 205°E among the Ultima Scopuli. The crater seen in the 5th and 6th images is Reynolds (Osborne Reynolds, engineer & physicist, 1842-1912; see also: Reynolds number).
Composite of 3 visible light images for colour, and one monochrome image for detail.
Image credit: ESA. Composite: AgeOfDestruction.
As Virginia Hughes noted in a recent piece for National Geographic’s Phenomena blog, the most common depiction of a synapse (that communicating junction between two neurons) is pretty simple:
Signal molecules leave one neuron from that bulby thing, float across a gap, and are picked up by receptors on the other neuron. In this way, information is transmitted from cell to cell … and thinking is possible.
But thanks to a bunch of German scientists - we now have a much more complete and accurate picture. They’ve created the first scientifically accurate 3D model of a synaptic bouton (that bulby bit) complete with every protein and cytoskeletal element.
This effort has been made possible only by a collaboration of specialists in electron microscopy, super-resolution light microscopy (STED), mass spectrometry, and quantitative biochemistry.
says the press release. The model reveals a whole world of neuroscience waiting to be explored. Exciting stuff!
Credit: Benjamin G. Wilhelm, Sunit Mandad, Sven Truckenbrodt, Katharina Kröhnert, Christina Schäfer, Burkhard Rammner, Seong Joo Koo, Gala A. Claßen, Michael Krauss, Volker Haucke, Henning Urlaub, Silvio O. Rizzoli
In case you all missed it.