Wild Things: Tarantulas, Jellyfish and More...
Hummingbirds, attacking bears, ancient hominids and other news updates in wildlife research
- By T.A. Frail, Megan Gambino, Laura Helmuth, Erin Wayman and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, July-August 2011,
Male Juvenile Ruby Throated Hummingbird perched on a branch with his tongue protruding. (Sandra Calderbank / Scalderphotography.com)
Hummingbirds captured on high-speed video surprised University of Connecticut scientists with the way they drink; a bird dips its tongue in nectar, widens the forked tip and unfurls a fringe of hairlike structures. When the tongue leaves the nectar, the tip contracts and the fringe rolls back, trapping nectar. The study refutes the long-held assumption that hummingbirds rely on capillary action to draw nectar up through grooves in their tongues.
"Box Jellyfish Use Terrestrial Visual Cues for Navigation," Anders Garm et al., Current Biology, April 28, 2011
"The hummingbird tongue is a fluid trap, not a capillary tube," Alejandro Rico-Guevara and Margaret A. Rubega, PNAS, May 2, 2011
"Tarantulas cling to smooth vertical surfaces by secreting silk from their feet," F. Claire Rind et al., Journal of Experimental Biology, June 1, 2011
"Diet of Paranthropus boisei in the early Pleistocene of East Africa," Thure E. Cerling et al., PNAS, May 2, 2011
"Fatal attacks by American black bear on people: 1900–2009," Stephen Herrero et al., Journal of Wildlife Management, May 11, 2011