Wild Things: Great Whites, Tree Snakes, Drongos and More
These animals redefine life as we know it
- By T.A. Frail, Megan Gambino, Jesse Rhodes, Jess Righthand and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, February 2011
North America’s walnut sphinx caterpillar employs a newly discovered defense when under attack: it whistles. Researchers from Canada’s Carleton University and elsewhere found that it forces air through tiny abdominal openings called spiracles, producing high-frequency sounds barely audible to people. In laboratory tests, the alarm startled birds and made them fly away.
Learn more about the walnut sphinx at the Encyclopedia of Life.
"Whistling in caterpillars (Amorpha juglandis, Bombycoidea): sound-producing mechanism and function," Veronica L. Bura et al., Journal of Experimental Biology, December 8, 2010
"Mechanics of biting in great white and sandtiger sharks," T. L. Ferrara et al., Journal of Biomechanics, December 3, 2010
"Non-equilibrium trajectory dynamics and the kinematics of gliding in a flying snake," John J. Socha et al., Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, November 24, 2010
"Singing for your supper: sentinel calling by kleptoparasites can mitigate the cost to victims," Andrew N. Radford et al., Evolution, November 18, 2010
"Why does Viola hondoensis (Violaceae) shed its winter leaves in spring?" Kouki Hikosaka et al., American Journal of Botany, November 15, 2010