Wednesday 2 December 2015

A sixty four year old albatross is about to lay yet another egg

The World's oldest known tagged seabird is a Laysan Albatross named Wisdom. She is at least 64
years old and was tagged in 1956.

And this year she is back at her nest site at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife refuge and preparing to lay yet another egg. She has already raised around 37 chicks over the years.

It takes both parents about six months to rear a single chick.

During her lifetime she has flown over six million miles over the Southern Oceans.

The biggest threat to most Albatrosses is pollution in the form of plastic waste. Most species
are endangered.

Chiton mollusks can see with eyes embedded in their shells

The chiton is a type of mollusk, and the species that was studied is named  Acanthopleura granula. It
was found that these animals have lots of small lenses with mineral bases that are scattered
across their armored shells. Each is smaller than a tenth of a millimeter across.

The eyes allow the animals to see what is happening in their nearby environment without having
to open a shell or anything like that. In effect they are seeing through the shell. The rest of
the shell is opaque, and only the eyes are transparent.

A team at the at the Argonne National Laboratory,  performed high-resolution X-ray tomagraphy
tests on individual eyes in the chiton shell, in order to confirm that the lenses can form images. The chitons can rapidly respond when predators approach. They do so by gripping onto the substrate below them and not allowing themselves to be dislodged from it.

There is a downside to this. The study team also learned that as chiton eyes increase in size
and complexity, the armor actually performs less effectively as the eyes weaken it somewhat.