Its venom-filled claw at the ready, it waits for prey to amble by it. Giving a quick tap to a possible meal, this newly discovered, blind pseudoscorpion will grab the prey and wait for the poison to take hold. Then, it will eat.
Thankfully, at less than half an inch in length with legs outstretched, Parobisium yosemite poses little threat to humans or any other animals larger than an eighth of an inch, said James C. Cokendolpher, a research scientist and assistant curator of invertebrates at The Museum of Texas Tech University.
He and Austin-based researcher, Jean K. Krejca, recently documented the new arachnid in the Sept. 30th Occasional Papers by Texas Tech University’s Natural Science Research Laboratories. The new animal is commonly called the Yosemite cave pseudoscorpion.
“This pseudoscorpion was originally found three or four years ago,” Cokendolpher said. “There was a team from Austin that was hired to go into some of the caves in Yosemite National Park to do a survey and map some of the caves. Jean was one of the first ones to discover the species. She and others caught two of them, which were sent to me for identification. Once we discovered it was a species unknown to science, they went back and collected in some other areas to see if the species was there.”
Most cave-dwelling species live in limestone caves, he said, where more humidity and access to food makes it more hospitable for life. Finding Parobisium yosemite in the caves formed from granite rockfalls came as a surprise.
It might be the second discovered cave-dwelling pseudoscorpion that lives in these granite talus caves in the world, he said.
Strange to behold, pseudoscorpions are small arachnid predators, Cokendolpher said. With claws in the front, the animals have eight legs, but no long post-abdomen with a stinger like a real scorpion. Pseudoscorpions are an order of arachnids unto themselves, such as ticks, mites, daddy longlegs and vinegaroons.
“This pseudoscorpion is as large as many of the other cave-dwelling species,” Cokendolpher said, explaining most of the more than 3,000 species of pseudoscorpions are much smaller. “Cave species are generally larger, have longer appendages, lighter coloration and are missing all the eyes. The canyon where it was found was made by a glacier during an ice age millions of years ago. Through time, rubble with larger rocks would fall and create piles with caves or subterranean voids. We think that’s where this animal was trapped and evolved into the species that it is now.”
Cokendolpher explained the animal doesn’t move around much, probably to conserve energy.
“I kept a couple of them in the laboratory for quite a while,” he said. “They basically sat and did nothing for much of the time. We kept them in Petri dishes with plaster of Paris that was moistened so it was more like cave conditions. When we introduced other animals into the Petri dish it would go over and tap the animal. When it did that, it was able to sense chemical cues there such as identification, how large the item was and whether it was something suitable to eat. Out of several weeks we kept them, the only thing that was eaten was a tiny spider. Like many of other cave animals, it doesn’t need a lot of nourishment. That’s good for them in a food-poor environment.”Watch the interview with Cokendolpher at
John Davis | Newswise Science News
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy