New results show that land-living crabs, descended from marine ancestors, have re-invented key aspects of the insect nose through evolution in order to solve the problem of olfaction in their air-filled terrestrial environment.
The robber crab, Birgus latro, is the world’s largest land-dwelling arthropod, with a weight reaching 4 kg and a length of more than half a meter. Robber crabs are perhaps most famous for their ability to climb tall palm trees in search of coconuts, which they later are able to crack open with their massive claws. These crabs are fully adapted to a life on land and will actually drown if submerged in water. The robber crab’s transition from sea to land has been accomplished through numerous, and in many cases far-reaching, adaptations. A question not previously addressed is how the robber crabs have adapted to olfaction in their new environment – an intriguing question because the sense of smell needs to operate under very different conditions in air compared to water.
In the new work, Marcus Stensmyr and Bill S. Hansson from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, together with colleagues from Lund University, Sweden and the University of New South Wales, Australia, show not only that these impressive crabs have a functional sense of smell but that the olfactory system they have developed is in fact highly sophisticated and sensitive. Moreover, the crabs have managed this evolutionary feat by adopting olfactory strategies similar to those of insects.
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Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
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The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
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Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
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