- Over a Cup of Coffee
- Plankton bloom in Thailand and ant parasite that's cunning
Plankton bloom in Thailand and ant parasite that's cunning
An uncharacteristically dense bloom of plankton has hit the eastern coast of Thailand and is choking marine life in the region.
Plankton is the term used for a diverse set of organisms that cannot propel themselves and float with a current.
Plankton blooms are common in the region but usually last not more than three days. This year though, the amount of plankton in the bloom is more than 10 times what has been seen before.
The exodus amount of plankton has turned the water green. Worse still, the floating life form is blocking sunlight from reaching the water and also releases toxins, which have created an "aquatic dead zone".
Earlier this year, a similar bloom resulted in thousands of dead fish washing up on a beach in Thailand. Scientists believe that climate change is the cause behind these blooms.
Zombie-making ant parasite
The lancet liver fluke is a parasite well known for infecting ants and turning them into zombies.
The parasite has a complex life cycle where it goes through snails, ants, and grazing cows, and has found taking control of ants' brains is an effective way to achieve this.
When the parasite takes control, the ants begin involuntarily moving toward the top blades of grass, increasing the chances of them being eaten by grazing cows or deer.
An interesting study conducted by researchers at the University of Copenhagen found that the parasite behavior is quite sophisticated and ensures that the zombied ants stay up on the top blades of grass only during the cool hours of the morning and evening. In the afternoon, when the sun's rays are harsh and can be deadly, the parasite makes the ants crawl down to the shade.
That's not all. When the parasite infects an ant, there are hundreds of liver flukes that invade the body but it is only one that makes it to the brain, while the others huddle in a capsule.
That's one "cunning" invader. Researchers are still figuring out the chemistry involved in this behavior.
Strange behavior at auctions
Speaking of behaviors, even human behavior is a complex puzzle.
An unopened never used first generation iPhone was recently auctioned for a whopping price tag of $190,000 - that's over 300 times the price of the original phone.
Image credit: LCG Auctions
Not to mention that the specifications of the latest iPhone are way superior to the original piece, which the bidder is likely to retain in the unopened pack anyways, after bidding such a huge amount.
So, what makes us behave so erratic when something is getting auctioned?
Find out in this piece. Why do we overpay at auctions?
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Until next time,