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Marine flatworm Symsagittifera

Bugs

Marine flatworm Symsagittifera
Marine flatworm Symsagittifera

The solar-powered bugs are peculiar social sunbathers

#Cosmoread: What a bright green with solar-powered worm is weirder? A social life, a bright green with solar-powered worm.

A casual observation and a new series of computer simulations show that the peppermint sauce-worm is a social animal. The worm is a strange creature. Just a couple of millimeters long, these marine flatworms biofilms gather on beaches (a large group of microorganisms adhering to a surface). They algae that live in their bodies from its bright green color (and name) is. It is a codependent relationship: algae a home, and the by-product of photosynthesis moss bugs get all of their nutrients.

Now scientists have found that the worms (Symsagittifera roscoffensis) are put in a group, they circular pattern, with each other nose to tail to swim. The researchers see this behavior the first time, it has also been found that it is far more often than random chance would allow occurs. The reason may be that the social behavior of large groups of insects, which, in turn, gives them control the amount of sunlight to which they expose their symbiotic algae form allows.

“These insects, and overall social being by, to improve local conditions can suit themselves,” study leader Nigel Franks, a biologist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom said.

A search on

Franks and his social behavior of ants in general studies. But decades ago, the mint sauce worms about an old monograph on an antique bookstore for 40 pence (today, only $ 0.50 more) raised. He thought the animals looked “amazing” but knew they would be hard to find in the British Isles.

A few years ago, however, Franks, English Channel, where the mint sauce was reported bugs started teaching courses in an area on the island of Guernsey.

“As a biologist, I travel, I always have a ‘Quest’ creatures like to – to find something I love,” Franks told. Mint sauce worm became his quest.

After a few field seasons, the researchers found the worms in a Guernsey beach a dense mat. He and some of his students occupied and immediately noticed something strange.

“As soon as you had them in high density,” Franks said, “They started the circular milling behavior.”

Nose-to-tail circular milling is seen in fish, some caterpillars and some insects, including ants, said Franks. Some ants, other ants’ pheromones answer, even “stuck” in the mill will get a circular movement and conflict rather die of exhaustion, he said.

Milling “normally a big sign that [animals] in a very social way, are responding to each other is very strong,” said Franks. “And in fact, the social behavior of these insects had never been recorded before.”

Test mint sauce

To find that the milling behavior was random, Franks and his colleagues 0.08 inches of water (about 2 mm) and 0.06 inches long (1.68 mm), and communicate them to put the insects. Scientists worms’ behavior and movements were recorded. Then, a similar speed per second (about 1.78 mm) and the behavior of their real-world counterparts, these digital bugs than similarly sized insects moving created computer simulations. Much more often than the computer simulations predict real insects negotiated, indicating that the milling behavior was not random, Franks and his colleagues reported the February 23 journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The researchers then and computer simulation in which one or two millimeters digital bugs away made were prone to interact with neighbors. The improved simulation mimicked real social behavior of insects, the researchers found. Worms swim next to each other in parallel to form a “flotillas,” Franks said.

What has not been tested in this way, these bizarre plants animals work. Franks suspect that it has to do with nutrition. Previous studies have shown that insects mint sauce on areas that they often have a little of their symbiotic algae, which makes no sense in the sun are collected – insects seemingly where his cause nutrients to algae are working themselves to be more productive by planting peak efficiency. But in reality, the bugs do not go it alone, Franks said.

“If they form a biofilm – a very thick layer of wrap as many worms in a way – they pop in and out of that layer to control the amount of sun they are able to,” he said.

Team to study this question, perhaps marking and tracking individual bugs though Franks currently possible methods is keeping his plans “Top Secret. “Whatever the reason for the behavior of insects, he said, they are” beautiful “are animals.

“I mean, they’re just amazing,” he said. “You will forgive whimsy, green sea lions in an aquarium as they look like. They just swim and cavort around effortlessly.”