The story of the fig and its wasp

Inside the rounded fruit of a fig tree is a maze of flowers. That is, a fig is not actually a fruit; it is an inflorescence—a cluster of many flowers and seeds contained inside a bulbous stem. Because of this unusual arrangement, the seeds—technically the ovaries of the fig—require a specialized pollinator that is adapted to navigate within these confined quarters. Here begins the story of the relationship between figs and fig wasps....

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Panda paradox: Which came first, a taste for bamboo or a distaste for meat?

This post contributed by Monica Kanojia, Administrative Assistant/Governance for ESA While a vegetarian lifestyle is a choice made by omnivorous humans, the panda population may have been forced to convert  to a vegetarian diet between 2 and 7 million years ago to ensure survival. The preference for bamboo is unusual for pandasbecause they are classified as carnivores  even though their diet is 99% bamboo. Even more unusual is the...

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From the Community: December Edition

The following links highlight ecology from the month of December, but there are several science-related end-of-year lists floating around as well. For example, The Guardian released a review of 2010 wildlife photographic awards, Scientific American’s podcast 60-Second Earth highlighted Earth stories in 2010, Ed Yong is posting a series of 2010 research themed articles on his blog Not Exactly Rocket Science—such as a recent post on...

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Worm brain sheds light on the evolution of the cerebral cortex

The last time humans and the marine ragworm Platynereis dumerilii shared a common ancestor was roughly 600 million years ago, according to scientists from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany (EMBL). That is, researcher have discovered a true counterpart of the cerebral cortex, also called the pallium, in this relative of the earthworm. This finding, explained the scientists, could be the key to unraveling...

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From the Community: fish-mimicking octopuses, aquanauts and the evolution of ecology

An octopus that mimics toxic sea creatures, a plant’s chemical SOS when attacked by caterpillars, the genetic differences between ant social castes, unusually high records of jellyfish swarms this summer and Simon Levin discusses the evolution of ecology and where it is headed next. Here are stories in ecology wrapping up the month of August. Fish-mimicking octopus: According to Jess McNally of Wired Science, “the Indonesian...

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