New experiments reveal that the famous fly Drosophila melanogaster becomes sexually excited when it recognizes the smell of phenylacetic acid and phenylacetaldehyde, organic structures found in fruit and plant tissues. Richard Benton of the Center for Integrative Genomics in Lausanne, Switzerland, concludes that the unique reproductive circuitry may serve as an evolutionary advantage, encouraging the flies to couple and raise offspring near a nutrient source.
Fish Uses Tool to Dig Up and Crush Clams, ScienceDaily, Sept. 28
Researchers record an orange-dotted tuskfish digging a clam out of the sand, carrying it over to a rock, and repeatedly throwing it against a nearby rock to crush it. Though tool use was once considered an exclusively human trait, biologists are discovering many more species that can utilize planning and dexterity to accomplish a goal.
Scientist in a Strange Land, Pop Sci, Sept. 26
Last December, Felisa Wolfe-Simon announced that her team of researchers had isolated a microbe from Mono Lake that could rely on arsenic in place of phosphorus as the backbone of its DNA. This featured article highlights the controversy of the discovery and how it has affected the scientific community.
ScienceShot: Coloring in Prehistoric Bugs, Science Now, Sept. 28
Researchers examined the nanostructures of ancient bugs, dating from about 15 million to 50 million years ago, under the microscope and found that they had different colors than the fossils seemed to indicate.