biology

Interspecies Competition In These Insects Won By Penis Spikiness  

Insects with nightmarish spiky penises that can harm their mates are really nothing new. But a new study in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology has determined that given the right conditions, wielding a nightmarish spiky penis could also harm a different species.


Making Heroin Could One Day Be As Easy As Brewing Beer

Breakthroughs in synthetic biology have suggested a bizarre and realistic possibility for the future of black market drug trade. Genetically-altered yeast could be used to make opiates for hospitals seeking a source of the painkillers — and then appropriated by drug dealers who want to homebrew heroin.


Scientists To Sequence Lil Bub's Genome

A team of geneticists is ready to unlock the secrets behind Internet celebrity cat Lil Bub’s unique appearance. Lil Bub, whose full name is Lillian Bubbles (her friends call her Bub), may be the most recognisable cat on the Web. Although Bub is an adult now, she still looks like a kitten, with wide green eyes and short legs and her tongue sticks out, giving her a perpetual happy-go-lucky expression.


Watch A Bat-Inspired Sonar Prototype Flying On A Drone

Horseshoe bats’ unique noses and big, flexible ears make them nature’s most dynamic sonar arrays. Engineers built a mechanical version and they’re testing it on a quadcopter drone.


Here's What Sharks Do When You Give Them Cameras

Fisheries biologist John Shepherd once said that “counting fish is like counting trees — except you can’t see them and they move.” This can make animal behaviour research extremely difficult. And while increasingly advanced electronic telemetry tags can tell us a lot, there’s just no substitute for seeing a behaviour on video.


How Anabolic Steroids Make You Stronger (And How They Destroy You)

The quick and dirty route to gaining strength is to take some kind of anabolic steroid. These drugs actually trick the body into building up muscle mass and endurance — but they can also age you far beyond your years.


Your Brain's Sex System Needs This Protein To Survive

Sometimes, bad luck leads to insights. A study published today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation has added a new twist to the way the system that controls puberty in mammals develops inside the brain, thanks to two brothers who both inherited a combination of genes for Kallmann syndrome.


Wolf Spiders Play Leaf-Vibrating Songs To Attract Mates

Wolf spiders are deaf — they don’t have the right structures for hearing. However, they are very good at sensing other kinds of vibrations, and they use this ability to communicate. One species of wolf spider plays songs on dead leaves to attract mates.


What You're Looking At Is An Insect Penis Inside Its Mate

One of the biggest challenges for scientists studying the anatomy and physiology of genitalia is the fact that much of the real functional action happens deep inside females. It’s hard to see what’s going on in there. That’s why I love studies that rise to the challenge of giving us a peek inside.


This Is The First Building That Can Heal Its Own Cracks With Biocement

Three years ago, we learned that a Dutch team had developed a biological concrete that could repair its own cracks. They said it might be two or three years before it found its way into the larger world — now, that process is happening.