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
(Niall Benvie / Corbis)
In winter, when most vegetation has recoiled into the earth, the plant Helleborus foetidus begins to bloom. How does it stand the cold? Scientists with the Spanish National Research Council found that strains of yeast living in the flowers’ nectar warm the flowers up to 13 degrees Fahrenheit by metabolizing sugars. The yeast allows the plant to flourish even with low temperatures and little sun. The researchers call it a "novel mechanism whereby flowers can raise their temperatures."
Learn more about Helleborus foetidus 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