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Posts Tagged ‘worm

“All things play a role in nature, even the lowly worm”*…

 

worm

Artist’s rendering of Ikaria wariootia. It would have lived on the seafloor.

 

A worm-like creature that burrowed on the seafloor more than 500 million years ago may be key to the evolution of much of the animal kingdom.

The organism, about the size of a grain of rice, is described as the earliest example yet found in the fossil record of a bilaterian.  These are animals that have a front and back, two symmetrical sides, and openings at either end joined by a gut.

The scientists behind it say the development of bilateral symmetry was a critical step in the evolution of animal life.

It gave organisms the ability to move purposefully and a common, yet successful way to organise their bodies.

A multitude of animals, from worms to insects to dinosaurs to humans, are organised around this same basic bilaterian body plan.

Scott Evans, of the University of California at Riverside, and colleagues have called the organism Ikaria wariootia

How a 555 million year old worm paved our developmental path: “Fossil worm shows us our evolutionary beginnings.”  Read the underlying paper in the journal PNAS.

* Gary Larson

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As we celebrate symmetry, we might recall that it was on this date in 1858 that Hyman L. Lipman, of Philadelphia was issued the first U.S. patent for a combination lead pencil and eraser (No. 19,783).  The pencil was made in the usual manner, with one-fourth of its length reserved inside one end to carry a piece of prepared india-rubber, glued in at one edge.  Thus, cutting one end prepared the lead for writing, while cutting the other end would expose a small piece of india rubber.  This eraser was then conveniently available whenever needed, and not likely to be mislaid.  Further, the eraser could be sharpened to a finer point to make a more precise erasure of fine lines in a drawing, or cut further down if the end became soiled.

US19783-drawings-page-1 source

 

Written by LW

March 30, 2020 at 1:01 am

“Maybe the only significant difference between a really smart simulation and a human being was the noise they made when you punched them”*…

 

The nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) is tiny; it has only has 302 neurons. These connections have been completely mapped in the OpenWorm project, which is building a complete simulation of the worm in software. One of the founders of OpenWorm, Timothy Busbice, has embedded the connectome in an an object-oriented neuron program– which he has installed in the simple Lego robot pictured above…

And the result?

It is claimed that the robot behaved in ways that are similar to observed C. elegans. Stimulation of the nose stopped forward motion. Touching the anterior and posterior touch sensors made the robot move forward and back accordingly. Stimulating the food sensor made the robot move forward…

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Are we just the sum of our neural networks? More at “A Worm’s Mind In A Lego Body.”

* Terry Pratchett, The Long Earth

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As we cram for the Turing Test, we might recall that it was on this date in 1967 that the BBC banned “I Am The Walrus” for play on their air.  The Beatles had grabbed and used a snippet of a BBC broadcast of King Lear (which has also influenced Lennon’s lyrics), but that wasn’t the problem.  Rather, the lines “pornographic priestess” and “let your knickers down” were deemed inappropriate.

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Written by LW

November 22, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Talk to the Animals”*…

 

The sound that Gary Revell makes is otherworldly. Somewhere between a rusted door creaking open and a bullfrog with a sore throat. The simple materials he uses to create the sound – a strip of metal rubbing up against a wooden rod pounded into the earth – make it all the weirder, but that’s nothing compared to its effects on the environment around it. Like magic, the noise drives hundreds of earthworms out of the ground as if reporting for duty.

Revell is worm grunting, an obscure but effective way of gathering earthworms for fishing bait that inhabitants of his town Sopchoppy, on the Florida panhandle, have been practicing for generations. Also known as worm charming, worm fiddling, worm calling, worm snoring, and any number of other regional variations, the act of rubbing wood and metal together to create vibrations in the soil has proven to be one of the best ways for gathering the hearty, meaty Diplocardia mississippiensis earthworms that this corner of the Apalachicola National Forest is known for. In a typical morning, Revell can gather 3,000 to 4,000 worms with his wife, Audrey, which they sell in buckets of 50 for $35…

Dig more deeply into this art and science ay Modern Farmer‘s “Worm Grunting: The Age-Old Tradition of Charming Worms out of the Ground“; and watch the action at the Sopchoppy Worm Grunting Festival in this video:

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* the title of a song written by Leslie Bricusse for Doctor Dolittle, and winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1968 (for 1967)

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As we agree with Darwin (and Aristotle), we might recall that it was on this date in 1954 that Peter B. Cortese managed a one-armed dead-lift of 370 pounds– 22 pounds more than triple his bodyweight.

 source

 

Written by LW

September 4, 2014 at 1:01 am

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