1.- Tiny predators tie knots in the food chain :

Epomis beetle larvae look delicious to frogs. They're snack-size, like little protein packs. If a frog is nearby, a larvae will even wriggle its antennae and mandibles alluringly.

But when the frog makes its moves, the beetle turns the tables. It jumps onto the amphibian's head and bites down.

Then it drinks its would be predator's fluids.
We tend to think of food chains moving in one direction : Bigger eats smaller. But nature is often not so neat. All around the world, and maybe even in your backyard, arthropods are gobbling up vertebrates.

Jose Valdez, soon to be a postdoctoral researcher at he German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, identified hundreds of examples of this phenomenon in the scientific literature, which he detailed in a new paper.

Dr. Valdez found 1,300 similar examples, including a spider that snares a songbird in its web, giant water bugs that wrestle snakes into submission and fire ants that team up to overrun a baby alligator.

''Everytime I would read a new one was like, 'Oh my goodness,' '' Dr. Valdez said. [Cara Giamo]

2.- Beettle swallowed by a frog manages to swim to safety.

It's a familiar story : Predator hunts prey. Predator catches prey. Predator gulps down prey.

Usually that's it. But the water scavenger beetle Regimbartia attenuata, says, ''Not today.'' After getting swallowed by a frog, this plucky little insect can scuttle down the amphibian's gut and force it to defecate - emerging slightly soiled, but very much alive.

The bug's transit through the digestive tract can last as little as six minutes..

That's a measly fraction of the two or more days it typically takes for a frog to fully digest its dinner and get rid of the waste, according to a study in Current Biology.

''This is a weirdly wonderful behavior that I hadn't heard about,'' said Carla Bardua, an evolutionary biologist at  London's Natural History Museum who wasn't involved in the study.

''That a little beetle can actively swim through a a digestive system is peculiar and amazing.'' [Katherine J. Wu]

3.- Crystal Delight : In the Mojave Desert, moss uses quartz as a parasol.

To humans, a desert oasis may conjure an image of a blue pool encircled by palm trees. But to certain mosses, an oasis takes the form of a pebble of milky quartz. The cloudy crystal dilutes the sun's piercing ultraviolet rays.

And in the desert heat, it traps moisture beneath it, creating a micro climate perfect for a moss.

Kirsten Fisher, a California biologist, spotted these miniatures oases in 2014, off a highway in the eastern Mojave Desert.

The site was studded with crystals eroded from a nearby mountain striped with pearlescent quartz. Dr. Fisher picked up one of the many glittering, scattered rocks and found a brilliant green carpet of the moss underneath. [Sabrina Imbler]


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