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Posts Tagged ‘Bio-Design’

Ferocious tiger in the water

Posted by Mats on 09/10/2010

Link

White tigers are very rarely found in the wild. In about 100 yeas only 12 white tigers have been seen in the wild in India. They are almost extinct and most of the ones living are in captivity, mostly in zoos. This specific tiger is neither an albino nor a seperate subspecies of the tiger. They are beautifully white colored and have black stripes. It has blue eyes and a pink nose. It also has white colored fur. The white tiger is born to a bengal tiger that has the gene needed for white coloring. A pure white tiger has no stripes and are totally white.

Some fascinating pictures of a ferocious tiger in the water.

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The scariest and weirdest spiders on the planet

Posted by Mats on 09/10/2010

Sydney funnel-web spider (Atrax robustus)

funnel-web-spider

Funnel-webs are one of the three most dangerous spiders in the world and are regarded by some to be the most dangerous. Wandering males are thought to be responsible for the majority of fatal bites to humans, however this has not been proven. Males are aggressive and tend to wander looking for receptive females of their kind for mating.

Goliath bird eating spider (Theraphosa blondi)

Goliath-bird-eating-spider

The goliath bird eating spider is an arachnid belonging to the tarantula family and is the largest spider in the world. The spider was named by explorers from the Victorian era, who reported the sighting to the Western world after witnessing the spider devouring a hummingbird.

Redback spider (Latrodectus hasselti)

Redback-spider

Resembling the black widow spider, the redback is a member of the genus Latrodectus (widow family) found throughout the world. Females measure about a centimetre in length while the male is only 3 to 4 milimetres long. The redback spider is one of few animals which display sexual cannibalism while mating.

Crab spider (Ozyptila praticola)

Crab-spider

Most often found on flowers, lying in ambush for prey, crab spiders do not build webs to trap prey but are active hunters much like jumping spiders. Like crabs, these spiders move sideways and backwards more easily than forwards.

Camel spiders (Solifugae)

Camel-spiders

These terrifying creatures became infamous when American soldiers who had returned home from Iraq told of cat size spiders that could bite chunks out of human flesh. Solifugae are not actually true spiders but belong to a distinct arachnid order.

Black Widow (Latrodectus)

The-Black-Widow

This sinister creature posseses venom 15 times more potent than that of a rattlesnake. Due to the great geographical range of the black widow, the highest number of deaths world-wide are caused by members of their genus.

Brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa)

Brown-recluse-spider

Brown recluse bites produce severe dermonecrotic lesions and severe systemic symptoms, including organ damage and even fatalities. Bites have been known to form a necrotizing ulcer that destroys soft tissue and may take months to heal, leaving deep scars. The damaged tissue will become gangrenous and eventually slough away.

Argiope aetherea

Argiope-aetherea

This large orb-web is often referred to as the St Andrew’s Cross spider due to it’s characteristic cross-shaped web. This species displays sexual size dimorphism, with females being many times larger than males.

Nephila clavata (Joro spider)

Nephila-clavata

This colorful arachnid is a golden orb-web spider. Researchers in Japan have created a silk thread that is stronger, softer and more durable than conventional silk by genetically modifying silkworms with Nephilia drag line genes. Spider socks, stockings and fishing lines are expected to appear on the market within years.

Chilean rose tarantula (Grammostola rosea)

Chilean-rose-tarantula

Although they look fightening, these tarantulas make brilliant pets. Females have been known to live as long as 20 years with the possibility that they may live considerably longer.

Wolf spider (Hogna helluo)

Wolf-spider

So called due to their ability to run down their prey, wolf spiders depend on their eyesight to hunt. Their sense of touch is acute. A bite may cause some itching to a human, but nothing deadly or major.

Goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia)

Goldenrod-crab-spider

Goldenrod spiders are mainly found in North America and have the ability to change colour from white to yellow and back again. The colour change is made possible by the spider secreting a liquid yellow pigment into the outer cell layer of the body.

Zebra spider (Salticus scenicus)

Zebra-spider

Zebra spiders are often noted for their ‘curiosity’ when observed, many seem aware of their audience and seem to respond by raising their head and looking back at the person. This spider uses its four pairs of large eyes to locate prey and it’s jumping ability to pounce and capture it.

Huntsman spider (Sparassidae)

Huntsman-spider

Huntsman spiders can grow up to a legspan of 12 inches and will bite if provoked. Huntsman spiders are not deadly to humans though, the victim will suffer only minor swelling and localised pain, recovering in a day or two.

Mexican redknee tarantula (Brachypelma Smithi)

Mexican-redknee-tarantula

In the wild, the redknee will consume almost any kind of arthropod, small lizard, or small rodent that they can overpower and immobilize with their venom. After moulting, it will emerge from its exoskeleton leaving the old skin behind, looking like a second spider.

Barn spider (Araneus cavaticus)

Barn-spider

This spider was made famous by the book, Charlotte’s Web. The book’s spider was called Charlotte A. Cavatica, and the barn spider’s scientific name is Araneus cavaticus.

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God to atheists: First Learn How Things Work Before Calling it “Bad Design”, ok?

Posted by Mats on 11/05/2010

The eyes have it.

idnet.com.au

I can’t let this one go without posting the reference to the paper generating all the fuss.

Retinal glial cells enhance human vision acuity. A. M. Labin and E. N. Ribak
Physics Department, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel

“We construct a light-guiding model of the retina outside the fovea, in which an array of glial (Muller) cells permeates the depth of retina down to the photoreceptors. The retina is revealed as an optimal structure designed for improving the sharpness of images.

The results provide evidence for a natural optical waveguide array, which preserves almost perfectly images obtained through a narrow pupil.

Light guiding within the retinal volume is an effective and biologically convenient way to improve the resolution of the eye and reduce chromatic aberration. The retinal nuclear layers, until now considered a source of distortion, actually improve the decoupling of nearby photoreceptors and thus enhance visual acuity.

The fundamental features of the array of glial cells are revealed as an optimal structure designed for preserving the acuity of images in the human retina. It plays a crucial role in vision quality, in humans and in other species.”

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Flight Design: Flies and Birds Get it Wright

Posted by Mats on 11/04/2010

March 3, 2010 — Parse the following sentence for logical consistency: “Just as the Wright brothers implemented controls to achieve stable airplane flight, flying insects have evolved behavioral strategies that ensure recovery from flight disturbances.”  That is the first sentence from a paper in PNAS yesterday about the stabilizers in fly wings.1 Ristroph et al just compared design principles employed purposefully by inventors to the trial-and-error process of evolution.
The authors studied how fruit flies recover from disturbances.  They made them stumble while flying, and watched how they responded.  Their abstract continued the invention motif all the way up to modern times: “Thus, like early man-made aircraft and modern fighter jets, the fruit fly employs an automatic stabilization scheme that reacts to short time-scale disturbances.”  It only takes them 60 milliseconds to recover to within 2 degrees of their original heading.  They do this because they are equipped with “a pair of small vibrating organs called halteres that act as gyroscopic sensors.”  More aerodynamic engineering lingo ensues forthwith: “These findings suggest that these insects drive their corrective response using an autostabilizing feedback loop in which the sensed angular velocity serves as the input to the flight controller.”  The word “control” was one of the most prominent in the paper, used 27 times.  Later, their transition from biology to human engineering was seamless:

Flight control principles uncovered in this model organism may also apply more broadly, and this work provides a template for future studies aimed at determining if other animals employ flight autostabilization. The control strategies across different animals are likely to share common features, because the physics of body rotation is similar across many animals during flapping-wing flight.  Additionally, animals that lack halteres may use functionally equivalent mechanosensory structures such as antennae.  Finally, the control architecture of the fruit fly offers a blueprint for stabilization of highly maneuverable flapping-wing flying machines.
For fixed-wing machines, the need to overcome instabilities spurred the invention of autostabilizing systems by 1912, only 9 years after the Wright brothers first manually controlled airplane flight.  The development of such automatic steering systems also led to the first formal description of proportional– integral–derivative control schemes and advanced gyroscopic sensor technology. The fruit fly’s autostabilization response is well-modeled by a simple PD scheme that receives input from gyroscopic halteres, and, like airplanes, uses fine adjustment of wing orientation to generate corrective torques.  Roughly 350 million years after insects took flight, man converged to this solution for the problem of flight control and joined animals in the skies.

Want to see what animal flight technology has achieved?  Look no further than the aptly-named swift.  The common swift (Apus apus) is the speed champ in the category of sustained level flight.  The BBC News reported that swifts have been measured faster than peregrine falcons in level flight, though the falcon, employing gravity, sets the record in freefall dives.  A swift was recently measured going 69.3 mph, “the highest confirmed speed achieved by a bird in level flight,” said Swedish researchers publishing in the Journal of Avian Biology.  This is nearly triple their normal fast flying rate of 22-26 mph.  Apparently males do it to show off in “screaming parties” when flocks of swifts come together in jubilant displays of prowess.
Dr. Per Henningsson said, “It is remarkable that a bird that otherwise appears to be ‘finely tuned’ to perform at a narrow range of flight speeds at the same time is able to fly more than twice as fast when it needs to.”  The reporter added, “That means the birds need to be able to radically alter their aerodynamic performance, by altering their wing profile and physiology, depending on whether they are flying normally or in a screaming party.”  The article includes a short video of swifts in flight.  They go by in a blink of an eye, so a slow-motion sequence follows the real-time blip.  Reporter Jody Bourton called them “supercharged swifts”.


1.  Ristroph et al, “Discovering the flight autostabilizer of fruit flies by inducing aerial stumbles,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online March 1, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1000615107. The fruit fly experimenters only slipped on the E-word banana once, but then they got back up and talked design engineering the rest of the time.  But the cognitive dissonance of hearing them use evolution in the same sentence as the Wright brothers, engineering and flight control principles was jarring.  Maybe they did it on purpose.  It could have been to raise awareness of the logical inconsistency.  Or it could have been to ensure their intelligent-design paper got past the censors.  Hopefully that was the case; otherwise, it betrays endemic mental illness in the halls of academia.
Next time you see a fruit fly or gnat, watch it for awhile.  Think about how much technology is built into that tiny, tiny body.  It does things that our best aerospace engineers would like to imitate.  Become aware, also, of the birds in your area.  Watch some swifts in flight if you can.  You might just want to join their screaming party.  Flap your arms long enough, and you might be able to join them in a few million years.  Actually, probably not

Posted in Biology, Science | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

 
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