Meat-eaters Club Members Only Please

If you had no natural predator then you can imagine how a sudden surge of invasive species could do unspeakable harm to an ecosystem.

What are US conservationists in the United States trying to curb burgeoning alien populations?

They are calling on chefs and foodies to consider putting them on a plate as a delicacy!

“Conservation can get so serious and dire, we want to put a little fun back in,” Laura Huffman, state director of the Texas Nature Conservancy, tells The Atlantic and here are four invasive creatures you should consider giving a try…

They’re striped!
They’re colourful!
They’re covered with venomous spikes!

But… those spikes can be removed and then the lionfish tastes rather good. According to National Geographic, lionfish have “moist, buttery meat that is often compared to hogfish.” One Connecticut sushi chef, in fact, has already given “spear-caught lionfish sashimi” a spot on his menu.

Feral hogs
Ask TV viewers: wild pigs are a serious problem. Not only are the mammals very smart but they reproduce at an astonishing rate AND devour everything and anything in their path.

Hogs is still pork by golly and by the divine will of the gods hogs is still bacon! Even veggies and vegans like bacon! The meat from feral boar tastes tender, dark, smokey, and sweet.

Boasting razor-sharp teeth capable of tearing human flesh, capable of walking on land, AND able to survive for three days thanks to a lung-like adaptation that allows them to breathe out of water! PLUS females can lay 15,000 eggs in a single year. According to Nancy Matsumoto at The Atlantic, Scott Drewno, chef at Wolfgang Puck’s top-rated The Source, has a popular recipe for serving the monstrous fish.

[Drewno] cures snakehead with kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, cane sugar, ginger and garlic for about nine hours, and then smokes it using sencha green tea and serves it with a sauce of garlic chili, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and microgreens. Meaty, smoky, and exotically spiced, the dish is gaining a following. Although it is not on the lunch menu, “people are coming in and asking for it,” Drewno reports

Asian Tiger Shrimp
The shrimp can measure up to 13 inches long and weigh nearly a pound and are spreading through the Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Seaboard” menacing those areas’ ecosystem.” In a single cycle, females lay anywhere from 50,000 to 1 million eggs. Don’t try putting these with eggs as it would be disservice.

Eat up! Children are starving!


If I Could Talk To The Sycamore…

…just imagine it / chattin’ to an oak in oakenese…

Professor Suzanne Simard shows that all trees in a forest ecosystem are interconnected, with the largest, oldest, “mother trees” serving as hubs. The underground exchange of nutrients increases the survival of younger trees linked into the network of old trees.

I’m rubbish at this. The video explains with the aid of a fun guy… Cough… Sorry. [ width=”620″ height=”400″]

Video from KarmaTube

Prof. Simard, The Tree Speaking Project

Dolly The Mouse


So, for those of you with the chemical smarts, here’s the original article, published by the Society for the Study of Reproduction with the assistance of HighWire Press:

Mouse Cloning Using a Drop of Peripheral Blood
Satoshi Kamimura, Kimiko Inoue, Narumi Ogonuki, Michiko Hirose, Mami Oikawa, Masahiro Yo, Osamu Ohara, Hiroyuki Miyoshi, and Atsuo Ogura
* Corresponding author; email:
Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is a unique technology that produces cloned animals from single cells. It is desirable from a practical viewpoint that donor cells can be collected noninvasively and used readily for nuclear transfer. The present study was undertaken to determine whether peripheral blood cells freshly collected from living mice could be used for SCNT. We collected a drop of peripheral blood (15-45 µl) from the tail of a donor. A nucleated cell (leukocyte) suspension was prepared by lysing the red blood cells. Following SCNT using randomly selected leukocyte nuclei, cloned offspring were born at a 2.8% birth rate. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting revealed that granulocytes/monocytes and lymphocytes could be roughly distinguished by their sizes, the former being significantly larger. We then cloned putative granulocytes/monocytes and lymphocytes separately, and obtained 2.1% and 1.7% birth rates, respectively (P > 0.05). Because the use of lymphocyte nuclei inevitably results in the birth of offspring with DNA rearrangements, we applied granulocyte/monocyte cloning to two genetically modified strains and two recombinant inbred strains. Normal-looking offspring were obtained from all four strains tested. The present study clearly indicated that genetic copies of mice could be produced using a drop of peripheral blood from living donors. This strategy will be applied to the rescue of infertile founder animals or a “last-of-line” animal possessing invaluable genetic resources.
Biology of Reproduction 26 June 2013

For those who like it expert-style:

Unnamed Expert Drafted in by BBC Explains It All – Video!

And an explanation of application from the scientist guys though no one says why…
Seems we’re running to keep up in a world where we haven’t yet learned to crawl.

She’s behind me, isn’t she? Oh bugger!

“I’m a Hot Pink Slug, You’re a Dull Brown Slug” *

[It’s] big. [It’s] slimy. And [it’s] … neon pink?! Meet Triboniophorus aff. graeffei, a new species of 8-inch-long (20-centimeter-long) slug that’s found only on one Australian mountain.

Scientists already knew that a bright-pink slug lived on Mount Kaputar, thinking it was a variety of the red triangle slug, a species common along the east coast of Australia. But new research shows that the colorful critter is actually its own species, said Australia’s National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger Michael Murphy.

The pink slug is large for slugs, reaching about eight inches in length
Photograph © Michael Murphy / NPWS

“Recent morphological and genetics work by a researcher working on this slug family—the Athorcophoridae—has indicated the Kaputar slugs are a unique species endemic to Mount Kaputar and the only representative of this family in inland Australia,” said Murphy, who’s been stationed on Mount Kaputar for 20 years.

The pink slug had gone unstudied for so long because Australian slug and snail researchers—known as malacologists—are far outnumbered by their koala-investigating brethren, Murphy said. Their research on the new slug will likely be submitted for publication soon, he added. Meanwhile, though, the Australian government has moved to protect this rosy rarity and other unique species by designating their mountain home in New South Wales as an ”endangered ecological area.”

Tens of millions of years ago, Australia was part of a larger southern continent known as Gondwana, which included Australia, Papua New Guinea, India, and parts of Africa and South America. It was covered in rain forests similar to those of modern-day Papua New Guinea.

Photograph © Michael Murphy / NPWS

A volcanic eruption 17 million years ago on Mount Kaputar kept a small, four-square-mile (ten-square-kilometer) area lush and wet even as much of the rest of Australia turned to desert. This changing environment marooned the plants and animals living on Mount Kaputar from their nearest neighbors for millions of years, making the area a unique haven for species such as the pink slug.

Because the pink slugs live in beds of red eucalyptus leaves, Murphy suspects their color could potentially serve as camouflage, helping the animals blend in to their leafy habitat. “However, [the slugs] also spend a lot of their time high on tree trunks nowhere near fallen leaves, so it is possible that the color is just a quirk of evolution. I think if you are isolated on a remote mountaintop, you can pretty much be whatever color you like,” Murphy noted, adding that the slugs play important roles in their ecosystems—for example, by recycling plant matter.

“I’m a big believer in invertebrates. People tend to focus on the cute and cuddly bird and mammal species like koalas. But these little behind-the-scenes invertebrates really drive whole ecosystems,” Murphy told the Australian Broadcasting Service. Besides the pink slug, researchers have also identified several other invertebrate species that are unique to Mount Kaputar, such as the Kaputar hairy snail and the Kaputar cannibal snail.

These finds, combined with Mount Kaputar’s uniqueness and the growing threat from global warming—temperatures just a degree or two warmer would destroy Kaputar’s flora and fauna—prompted the Australian government’s proposal to preserve Kaputar. “They are a unique and colorful part of our natural heritage, and we should do everything we can to avoid causing their extinction,” Murphy said.

Source: Nat Geo
* Showing my age

Stuck at the back of the freezer

Samples of 400-year-old plants known as bryophytes* have flourished under laboratory conditions. Researchers say this back-from-the-dead trick has implications for how ecosystems recover from the planet’s cyclic long periods of ice coverage.

The findings appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and come from a group from the University of Alberta, who were exploring an area around the Teardrop Glacier, high in the Canadian Arctic. The glaciers in the region have been receding at rates that have sharply accelerated since 2004, at about 3-4m per year. That is exposing land that has not seen light of day since the so-called Little Ice Age, a widespread climatic cooling that ran roughly from AD 1550 to AD 1850.

Some more recently cultivated bryophytes, yesterday (or not)

“We ended up walking along the edge of the glacier margin and we saw these huge populations coming out from underneath the glacier that seemed to have a greenish tint,” said Catherine La Farge, lead author of the study.

Bryophytes are different from the land plants that we know best, in that they do not have vascular tissue that helps pump fluids around different parts of the organism. They can survive being completely desiccated in long Arctic winters, returning to growth in warmer times, but Dr La Farge was surprised by an emergence of bryophytes that had been buried under ice for so long.

“When we looked at them in detail and brought them to the lab, I could see some of the stems actually had new growth of green lateral branches, and that said to me that these guys are regenerating in the field, and that blew my mind,” La Farge said. “If you think of ice sheets covering the landscape, we’ve always thought that plants have to come in from refugia around the margins of an ice system, never considering land plants as coming out from underneath a glacier.”

But the retreating ice at Sverdrup Pass, where the Teardrop Glacier is located, is uncovering an array of life, including cyanobacteria and green terrestrial algae. Many of the species spotted there are entirely new to science. “It’s a whole world of what’s coming out from underneath the glaciers that really needs to be studied,” Dr La Farge said. “The glaciers are disappearing pretty fast – they’re going to expose all this terrestrial vegetation, and that’s going to have a big impact.”

Regeneration of Little Ice Age bryophytes emerging from a polar glacier with implications of totipotency in extreme environments – Extract

* Bryophytes = mosses, liverworts and hornworts.

A Hermit’s Home

Home is wear the art is: hermit crab moves into Lego shell


A new home may be hard to afford in these times of austerity, but one lucky crab has landed a multicoloured pad made especially for him.

Harry the hermit crab, who lives in the rock pool in the Atlantis Discovery Area at Legoland in Windsor, Berkshire, has a shell made entirely of Lego bricks.

Video link

Hermit crabs do not have their own shells so normally protect their soft bodies by salvaging empty sea shells and moving into them. Harry showed more discerning taste when he chose a shell made out of the blue, red and yellow bricks over the more traditional options.

Legoland’s Liane Riley said: “We decided to give Harry a wider choice and the model makers here created a special Lego house just for him. We weren’t really sure if he’d actually move in, but he rejected the sea and snail shells on offer and seems very comfortable in his new home”.