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Journal of Experimental Biology

This Tadpole Can See Out Of An Eye Transplanted Onto Its Butt

Yes, you read that right. Researchers at Tufts University have found that an ectopic eye transplanted near the tail of a tadpole -- an eye that has no direct connection to the animal's brain -- will still let the animal see. It's the first time that researchers have observed a vertebrate that can demonstrate vision through a non-traditional, implanted eye, and the implications for bioengineering could be impressive. The results suggest that we could one day develop literal working eyes in the back of our head -- or in our palms, like the Pale Man in Pan's Labyrinth. You know, if you're into that sort of thing.

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Physiologist Proposes Theory of Milk-Making Dinosaurs

Outside of The Land Before Time movies, dinosaurs aren't exactly creatures noted for their tight familial bonds. One researcher, though, is suggesting that dinosaurs may have been more caring parents than we suspected, even going so far as to feed their babies a milk-like substance rich in antibodies and growth hormones. While lactation is unheard of in reptiles, Professor Paul Else points out that birds like flamingos, penguins, and even the humble pigeon produce "milk-like" substances, so it's not wild thinking to suggest that some dinosaurs may have had the same capacity to make something we'd very much like to try on our breakfast cereal... though probably only once.

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Depressing New Study Finds That Human Hands Evolved for Punching, Not Playing Flute or Giving Back Rubs


As humans, one of the things that sets us apart from almost all other species on the planet is our sweet hand design, complete with opposable thumb that lets us do everything from input the Konami code to conduct a symphony. We're rightly proud of all the classy, technologically savvy things our hand allow us to do, so it's tempting  to think that they evolved the way they did to allow us access to these higher pursuits. A new study in the Journal of Experimental Biology, though,  suggests that while our hands may have noble ambitions -- like playing a violin concerto, throwing a prefect spiral, or looking up cat videos on a tablet computer -- the evolution of the appendage was largely shaped by one of its most unpleasant, if historically common, uses -- making a fist and using it to whoop the ever-loving hell out of something.

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Crocodile’s Jaws Are Armor Plated, But Still As Sensitive As A Human Fingertip

Crocodile researchers have discovered an unexpected organ associated with the famously toothsome and heavily armored reptile -- one that makes the monstrous creature's jaws one of the most sensitive body parts in the animal kingdom. Crocodile's mouths are lined with tiny, dome-shaped structures that are packed with nerve endings, rendering the massive, powerful jaws as sensitive as human fingertips, says a study published today in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

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Fact: The Soft-Shelled Turtle Pees Through Its Mouth

While soft-shelled turtles breathe air, they spend the vast majority of their lives in the water. Even when the pools and lakes they call home dry up, they will stick their heads beneath the surface of a puddle, sometimes for hours on end, a habit that has baffled scientists for years. Thanks to a report released today in the Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers are no longer stumped. They are, however, kind of grossed out, as the study shows that when they dunk their heads, it's because they're urinating into the water through their mouths. So how about a little privacy, guys? Jeez!

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Aquatic Spider Uses Web As A Gill to Breathe Underwater

The diving bell spider (Argyroneta aquatica) spends its life underwater. This arachnid needs air to breathe, and has devised an ingenious system by which is takes air from the surface and stores it underwater. The ability of these spiders to breathe underwater was first recognized over 250 years ago. But a new paper in the Journal of Experimental Biology describes in previously unknown detail the means by which Argyroneta aquatica accomplishes this feat. Air from the surface of water is collected by the diving bell spider using the fine hairs on its abdomen. The air is trapped in a bubble, a bell-shaped web constructed by the spider underwater that it can then carry around with it. Though researchers have long known about the spider's air balloon, until now it was a mystery how the spider could stay underwater for long periods of time without having to return to the surface to refill the tiny bubble with air. Researchers Roger Seymour of the University of Adelaide in South Africa and Stefan Hetz of Humboldt University in Germany have discovered that the diving bell spider uses its web as a gill, so it can live underwater with only occasional visits to the surface.

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