SoT 154: Epic Pie Fights

Download_greenWe’re not comfortable being bored, according to a study published in the journal Science. The paper suggested people would rather give themselves electric shocks than be left alone with their thoughts.

Where humans detect colours via three receptors in our eyes, the mantis shrimp have twelve. And a new study indicates six of those detect five different wavelengths of ultraviolet light. The mantis shrimp has adapted “nature’s sunscreens’ – mycosporine-like amino acids – and turned them into ultraviolet detectors.

Despite not having ears, plants can ‘hear’ the chomp of nearby caterpillars. Two researchers from University of Missouri noticed plants produced a pesticide chemical when they heard the sound of hungry, hungry caterpillars.

A common lichen in South America turns out to actually be 126 distinct species – and maybe more than 400. This highlights the difficulties involved in classifying and categorizing life, and the advances that modern gene technologies are bringing to taxonomy.

After a comprehensive study of the world’s oceans, oceanographers “can’t account for 99 percent of the plastic that we have in the ocean“. There are a few hypotheses to explain the missing plastic, but none are very conclusive. Also Illinois has now banned the sale of cosmetics containing plastic microbeads, which are too small to be filtered from waste-water and end up released into oceans and other large bodies of water.

Plucky Ukrainian astronomers have ‘adopted’ a star and given it a name that’s, well, somewhat insulting to Vladimir Putin.

Kate Naughton is a geneticist and marine biologist.

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