Wild Things: Life as We Know It
Running elephants, far-flying mosquitos, ancient crocodiles and more...
- By T.A. Frail, Megan Gambino, Erica R. Hendry, Jesse Rhodes and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, May 2010
(Joseph Berger / Bugwood.org)
When West Nile virus surged across the United States between 2001 and 2004, infected migratory birds were blamed for the disease’s rapid expansion. Now Johns Hopkins researchers say mosquitoes themselves, which transmit the virus to animals they bite, cover enough ground to carry the virus cross-country. Analyzing DNA from Culex tarsalis mosquitoes from 20 locations in the West, the researchers found that the insects, known to travel up to 2.5 miles per day, interbreed throughout much of the West, mingling more than researchers expected.
Learn more about the culex tarsalis mosquito at the Encyclopedia of Life.
“Population genetic data suggest a role for mosquito-mediated dispersal of West Nile virus across the western United States,” Meera Venkatesan and Jason L. Rasgon, Molecular Ecology, March 8, 2010
“Nectar yeasts warm the flowers of a winter-blooming plant,” Carlos M. Herrera and María I. Pozo, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, February 10, 2010
“Biomechanics of locomotion in Asian elephants,” J. J. Genin et al., Journal of Experimental Biology, February 12, 2010
“A Circadian Clock Is Not Required in an Arctic Mammal,” Weiqun Lu et al., Current Biology, March 11, 2010
“A New Horned Crocodile from the Plio-Pleistocene Hominid Sites at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania,” Christopher A. Brochu et al., PLoS One, February 24, 2010