Researchers debate whether an ancient fossil is the oldest animal yet discovered, and a new way to eavesdrop on glaciers.
In this episode:
01:04 Early sponge
This week in Nature, a researcher claims to have found a fossil sponge from 890-million-years-ago. If confirmed, this would be more than 300-million-years older than the earliest uncontested animal fossils but not all palaeontologists are convinced.
We hear about one researcher’s unorthodox attempt to listen in to the seismic-whisper at the foot of a Greenland glacier – a method that might reveal more about conditions under these enormous blocks of ice.
From overthrowing an empire to battling with bees, here are some of our most memorable hornet moments.
The Asian giant hornet, including the color form referred to as the Japanese giant hornet, is the world’s largest hornet. It is native to temperate and tropical East Asia, South Asia, Mainland Southeast Asia, and parts of the Russian Far East.
Zach & Zoe Sweet Bee Farm owners Kam and Summer Johnson started keeping bees after learning how raw and local honey could benefit their son, who suffered with asthma and seasonal allergies. After studying how to best keep bees, harvest honey, and keep up their own bee farm, they were able to sell their local honey to restaurants around NYC, and even have a shop in Chelsea Market. https://zachandzoe.co/
A rising world population means we’ll need more food in the coming years. But much of our food relies on insect pollination, and insects are in decline around the world. Can we make flowers better at being pollinated, to help solve this problem?
When a bee lands on water, the water sticks to its wings, robbing it of the ability to fly. However, that stickiness allows the bee to drag water, creating waves that propel it forward. In the lab, Roh and Gharib noted that the generated wave pattern is symmetrical from left to right. A strong, large-amplitude wave with an interference pattern is generated in the water at the rear of the bee, while the surface in front of the bee lacks the large wave and interference. This asymmetry propels the bees forward with the slightest of force—about 20 millionths of a Newton.
Walking on Caltech’s campus, research engineer Chris Roh (MS ’13, PhD ’17) happened to see a bee stuck in the water of Millikan Pond. Although it was a common-enough sight, it led Roh and his advisor, Mory Gharib (PhD ’83), to a discovery about the potentially unique way that bees navigate the interface between water and air.