How does the ogre-faced spider hunt?

These spiders of the genus Deinopis are weavers, but the web they manufacture consists of a few threads attached to the front legs. When prey (e.g. a moth) approaches, the spider separates the legs, extends the spiral and rushes over it to catch it. They’re called “ogre-faced” because of the “face” of the prosoma. They … Read more How does the ogre-faced spider hunt?

The crime solved by a water meter

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On the morning of November 22, 2015, a resident of Bentonville (Arkansas, USA), James A. Bates, called 911 to report that he found dead one of his friends, Victor Collins, the hot tub in his back patio. The night before, they both were with several other friends having a nice time. James and the rest … Read more The crime solved by a water meter

Orangutans, the mammals that take the longest to have a calf

The intergenesic interval (the time from one birth to a potential next pregnancy.) of orangutans is the largest of all primates and mammals: 6-8 years. During all this time the offspring are very dependent on the mother because they need a long learning period in order to survive on their own. For instance, they learn … Read more Orangutans, the mammals that take the longest to have a calf

The punished St. Valentine

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Behind February 14, Valentine’s Day, lies the biography of a character who had a rather tragic and nothing “valentinian” ending. St. Valentine would have been a priest from Rome who was beaten and beheaded in 270 A.D. His crime: secretly marrying soldiers with their partners in defiance of the rule of Emperor Claudius II, who … Read more The punished St. Valentine

Charles Darwin’s nose

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Did you know that Charles Darwin’s nose almost prevented him from making the trip aboard the HMS Beagle, which was decisive in elaborating his Theory of Evolution? And all because its captain, Robert FitzRoy, was a supporter of Physiognomy, a discipline that holds that facial features and characters are a reflection of the individual’s personality. … Read more Charles Darwin’s nose

The hearing of snakes

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Snakes don’t have eardrums… HOW DO THEY HEAR THEN? What happens is that the lower jaw is connected to the columella (homologus organ to the mammalian stapes), a bone that connects to the oval membrane, which in turn connects to the inner ear. In this way, being in contact with the ground or water, the … Read more The hearing of snakes

The Pokémon curse

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According to a famous creepypasta (an urban legend generated by Internet users), 107 people between 6 and 12 years old took commited suicide in the summer of 1996 in Japan. They all had one thing in common: they had acquired the video game Pokémon Red Version or Pokémon Blue Version and had saved the game … Read more The Pokémon curse

An aquatic spider?

It is Argyroneta aquatica. This spider not only dive, but completes its entire life cycle underwater. How does it breathe? It produces an air bubble that envelops the opisthosoma (the “body” without the “head”). As the bubble consumes, the spider comes to the surface to add other bubbles and increase its supply of air. How … Read more An aquatic spider?

How do amphibians hear?

Amphibians have two ways to capture the vibrations of the medium and transform them into sound: In one hand, through their legs… What actually happens is that when the ground vibrates, vibrations are transmitted by the legs to the scapula of these animals, and  through the opercular muscle and opercular bone, reaching the oval membrane … Read more How do amphibians hear?

Scorpions also shine

Scorpions emit fluorescence…when they are illuminated with ultraviolet light. It is supposed to be a kind of warning. The same happens with centipedes. In biology this phenomenon is called aposematism, that is, warning mechanisms to indicate that they are dangerous. There are several types of aposematism, especially in relation to color (intense colors such as … Read more Scorpions also shine

Syrphids. Camouflaged as wasps

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Surely, many of you have seen these animals flutter in the field… And surely many of you have turned away when you saw them nearby and shouted: “Watch out, a wasp!” Well, they’re actually flies… yes, harmless FLIES known as syrphid flies, flower flies or hoverflies. They imitate the coloration of wasps, which warns of … Read more Syrphids. Camouflaged as wasps

Cobwebs: Architecture in miniature

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There are up to 7 types of silk-producing glands (and each silk is different). But not all spiders have all those glands. Not all the spiders build cobwebs, but all of them have the ability to produce silk. The construction of cobwebs is genetically codified, it is not by learning. In addition, it is done … Read more Cobwebs: Architecture in miniature

The pagan origin of the “Roscón de Reyes”

The well-known “roscón de Reyes” (ring of the kings) is not a contemporary food by a long shot. Its origin, moreover, is pagan. We have to go back to the time of the Roman Empire. The Romans celebrated festivities known as Saturnalia between 17 and 23 December of the Roman calendar in honour of the … Read more The pagan origin of the “Roscón de Reyes”

Have the Three Kings always been three?

The Three Kings weren’t always three. In fact, the canonical Gospels never established their number. The first Christian theologians and exegetes discussed this aspect, and went so far as to establish from two to several dozen Magi. Three was the definitive number thanks to Origen of Alexandria (184 or 185-254), who established that if three … Read more Have the Three Kings always been three?

Balthazar, the polymorphic King

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Balthazar didn’t always have African features. In the sixth-century Byzantine mosaic presented here, from San Apolinar el Nuevo (Ravenna), Balthazar is white (the first character on the left). Like the other two Kings, he is dressed in a Phrygian cap and Persian vestments, thus indicating the origin of the Magi protagonists of the Epiphany. We … Read more Balthazar, the polymorphic King