Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The tiger beetle: Too fast to see

07.11.2014

Pitt biologist looks into how the speedy predator pursues prey

Speed is an asset for a predator. Except when that predator runs so fast that it essentially blinds itself.

The tiger beetle, relative to its size, is the fastest creature on Earth. Some of these half-inch-long beetles cover about 120 body lengths per second (at about five miles per hour). The fastest human can do about five body lengths. To take the sprinting gold from the tiger beetle, a person would have to hit 480 miles per hour.

BUT! The tiger beetle has a problem. At peak speeds, everything becomes a blur. They can't gather enough light with their eyes, and vision is compromised. It can still perceive the pursued but not at all clearly.

... more about:
»Arts and Sciences »Earth »beetle »collision »plastic »prey

The University of Pittsburgh's Daniel Zurek, a postdoctoral researcher in Nathan Morehouse's lab in the Department of Biological Sciences in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, is looking into how the tiger beetle's speed-related vision issues correlate with when it opens and closes its vicious mandibles in pursuit of supper.

Is it just guessing? Hoping that its Jaws of Death are ready to crush prey when it inevitably catches up?

No, Zurek says in a new paper published Nov. 5 in Biology Letters.

"We're asking in what situations do the mandibles open and close," Zurek says. "They're trying to catch something, so they want to be sure that their jaws are open and close on contact." But, he adds, in their obstacle-riddled habitat, it's probably not a good idea to keep them open all the time, lest the mandibles snag something, delaying the beetle and permitting escape.

"Is it a matter of distance (to prey), the size (the prey) appears on the retina, the projected time to collision? There are lots of variables," he says.

Using a dummy piece of prey (a plastic bead on a string), Zurek let the beetles give chase and recorded their hunting efforts in super slow-mo. As the beetle begins to catch up to the escaping dummy prey, the contracting image of the prey as perceived by the beetle begins to expand, which is the cue for the beetle to open its jaws, Zurek found. And as the image begins to recede, the jaws close.

This research, Zurek says, reveals a novel and potentially widespread mechanism for how behavioral decisions can be made based on visual "rules" in dynamic situations, where both the observer and the target are moving.

Joe Miksch | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.pitt.edu/

Further reports about: Arts and Sciences Earth beetle collision plastic prey

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>