DailyDirt: Nature Doesn't Play By Our Rules…
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Biology does whatever it can do, and it’s usually pretty messy about it. Just when people think they’ve figured out a nice hierarchical system for classifying plants and animals and microscopic organisms, we find out that there’s more going on and some things aren’t as clear cut as we thought. We could divide up life into several kingdoms and/or three domains, but taxonomy isn’t getting simpler with time. Life is a continuous spectrum that can’t be separated easily, and classifications could become even more complicated in the future. If you thought a platypus was weird, check out a few of these creatures.
- The tardigrade (aka water bear) is a strange eight-legged critter that is so resilient that it can survive in space — and it can inherit genes from its environment. Horizontal gene transfer from bacteria, fungi and Archaea has contributed to about 17.5% of the tardigrade’s genome, making it the record holder for an animal. For reference, the human genome has 5-8% of its DNA from foreign sources like retroviruses. [url]
- Solar-powered sacoclossans are herbivorous sea slugs that can absorb chloroplasts from their food and use these disembodied algae parts as both a form of camouflage (from the green color of the chloroplasts) and as a source of energy. These chloroplasts don’t get passed down to offspring, but young sacoclossans eat algae and obtain chloroplasts just like their parents did. [url]
- A new species of ‘coywolf’ is emerging in eastern North America from interspecies breeding, resulting in an animal with wolf, coyote and dog DNA. Millions of these animals populate a vast geographic area including rural and urban environments. These adapted coywolves can eat a variety of things — from discarded human foods to rodents and small mammals like cats — and hopefully these animals aren’t related to Michael Corvin. [url]
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