Your World: Grapefruit, corn, spiders

It’s a wonder out there.

leafMeet the Ghost Mantis, an Elusive Species That Is Mistaken for a Dried Leaf. At first, it looks like nothing more than a dry crumpled leaf, but on closer inspection, the unmistakable eyes, antenna, and lobed legs reveal a small species of mantis. However, this isn’t just any garden-variety praying mantis; it’s the Ghost mantis, which can be found in Africa and Madagascar. The Ghost mantis is a master of disguise. With its crinkly limbs and reddish-brown color, it is indistinguishable from surrounding dry leaves.

aerial_roots_smallThe Corn of the Future Is Hundreds of Years Old and Makes Its Own Mucus. In the 1980s, Howard-Yana Shapiro was in the Mixes District of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, the area where the precursors to maize (aka corn) first evolved, when he located some of the strangest corn ever seen. It grew to those impressive heights in what can charitably be called poor soil, without the use of fertilizer.. But the strangest part of the corn was its aerial roots–green and rose-colored, finger-like protrusions sticking out of the corn’s stalk, dripping with a clear, syrupy gel. He believed that the roots allowed this unique variety of corn, dubbed Sierra Mixe and locally bred over hundreds or even thousands of years, to produce its own nitrogen, an essential nutrient for crops that is usually applied as fertilizer in epic amounts.

grapefruitGrapefruit Is One of the Weirdest Fruits on the Planet. Grapefruit, a seemingly ordinary fruit that is, in truth, anything but ordinary. Right from the moment of its discovery, the grapefruit has been a true oddball. Its journey started in a place where it didn’t belong, and ended up in a lab in a place where it doesn’t grow. Even the name doesn’t make any sense. Grapefruit has long been associated with health. This is ironic, because the grapefruit is actually one of the most destructive foes of modern medicine in the entire food world.

spiderThe Thoughts of a Spiderweb. Researchers believe  that a spider’s web is at least an adjustable part of its sensory apparatus, and at most an extension of the spider’s cognitive system. This would make the web a model example of extended cognition, an idea first proposed by the philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers in 1998 to apply to human thought. The suggestion that some of a spider’s “thoughts” happen in its web fits into a small but growing trend in discussions of animal cognition. Many animals interact with the world in certain complicated ways that don’t rely on their brains. Octopuses are famously smart, but their central brain is only a small part of their nervous systems. Two-thirds of the roughly 500 million neurons in an octopus are found in its arms.

~ Berriotxoa

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