For this flower, it’s ready, set, launch

first_img Bee strategy gives researcher pause: ‘Is it doing what I think it’s doing?’ Flowers are just about the last thing in nature you’d list as fast, but the mountain laurels’ filaments are an exception.The defining characteristic of the flowers, which are native to the eastern United States, is a series of 10 arms or filaments that act like catapults, flinging pollen into the air with startling speed.To understand how those filaments work and why they evolved that way, a team of researchers, including recent Harvard Ph.D. Callin Switzer (now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington), Robin Hopkins, assistant professor of organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard and a faculty fellow of the Arnold Arboretum, and Stacey Combes, a professor at the University of California, Davis, used high-speed video to determine how fast the filaments move and to show how they target likely pollinators. The study is described in a recent paper in the journal American Naturalist. Making use of the head Related “Those filaments are under tension, so when an insect comes along and pulls at them, they launch the pollen onto whatever is there,” Switzer said. “There had been two longstanding hypotheses about these catapults. One was that they’re used for wind pollination. But our findings point to the idea that the pollen attaches to pollinators that are likely to take it to another flower.”Those filament catapults are actually long stalks that end with the male part of the plant, called the anther. When the flower develops, the anthers become stuck in tiny pockets on each petal. As the petals open, they pull back on the filaments, increasing the tension on them, and in effect leaving the catapults ready to fire.To understand the speed of those catapults and what they target, Switzer, Hopkins, and Combes conducted four studies.,The first focused on the biomechanics of the catapults and tried to quantify how fast they fire pollen. The second created a heat map showing where the pollen was launched, while the third examined which pollinators visited the flowers. The final study involved preventing pollinators from visiting the plants as a way to investigate their ability to self-pollinate.The researchers’ findings put the mountain laurel in rare company as one of the fastest-moving plants on the globe. When triggered, the catapults launch the pollen at more than 400 times the acceleration due to gravity, reaching a top speed of about 8 miles an hour.The evidence also showed that the catapults launch pollen toward the center of the flower, Switzer said, leading to a hypothesis that they might be triggered only by larger insects, like bumblebees, which are likely to land there and carry pollen from one flower to another.“It looks like pollinators play a really important role in fertilizing these flowers,” Switzer said. “In one of our later experiments, we bagged some flowers in the Arboretum to prevent pollinators from visiting them … and they hardly produced any seeds.”While the study quantifies the speed of the catapults, Switzer said many questions remain about the mountain laurel’s flowers.“This plant still has a lot of mysterious properties,” he said. “Usually, bees will collect pollen and use it as a protein source, (but) we don’t know whether bees actually collect the pollen from these flowers. The plants also produce almost no nectar, so the bees that visit don’t get much of a reward for visiting, so it’s somewhat of a mystery to us why they visit the flowers.“There are definitely a lot of unanswered questions. We don’t know where the pollen is attached to the bees, and we don’t know whether some of the catapults are triggered by wind or weather,” Switzer added. “If the flower isn’t pollinated, we know it will stay open for as many as 20 days, and we don’t know anything about whether the catapult changes or develops more of a hair trigger as it ages … so there are a number of interesting areas to follow up on.”last_img read more


first_imgA DJ at a popular nightclub says he has no doubt he would have been seriously hurt but for the swift actions of security staff after he was attacked by three brothers.The Doherty brothers appeared at Letterkenny Court.DJ Kevin Lennon was working at Voodoo Nightclub in Letterkenny when he opened a door to assist staff in ejecting a man from the club. However, a short time later he was attacked in a vicious manner which left him with a cut to the lip and other bruising.Three brothers, Liam, James and Peter Doherty of Drumnaskea, Letterkenny appeared at Letterkenny District Court yesterday in connection with the incident which took place on January 14th last.CCTV footage was viewed of the incident in court which showed Mr Lennon being punched by Peter Doherty before he fell to the ground and being surrounded by all three brothers.Peter Doherty, 21, was charged with assault while his two brothers Liam, 22 and James, 24, were charged with public order offences.Solicitor Patsy Gallagher said there was too much drink taken and it was Peter Doherty who admitted assaulting Mr Lennon.He said it was a case that they did not realise he was a member of staff and had thought that he had been another man who had earlier attacked Peter who was home for Australia for Christmas.Judge Paul Kelly asked Mr Lennon of Drumardagh, if he was recovered from his ordeal and if he would like to address the court.Mr Lennon said he would simply like to thank the security staff at Voodoo.“Who knows what might have happened if they had not acted so quickly. This could have been a hospitalization case,” he said.Judge Kelly said “As Mr Lennon said – if it was not for the reaction of the staff it could have been a lot worse. This was a very nasty incident for Mr Lennon when suddenly he finds himself on the ground with people with that level of intent around him.”He asked defense solicitor Mr Gallagher if the Doherty brothers had anything concrete to offer Mr Lennon by way of an apology.Mr Gallagher came back and said they could offer him a total of €500.Judge Kelly said refused the offer but said that if the men came up with a total of €1,500, he would adjourn the case until January 19th.“They’re all in this together as far as I can see,” added Judge Kelly.JUDGE PRAISES NIGHTCLUB STAFF AFTER THREE BROTHERS INVOLVED IN ATTACK ON DJ was last modified: October 21st, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:DJ Kevin LennondonegalJudge Paul KellyletterkennyVOODOO NIGHTCLUBlast_img read more


first_imgThe downfall of former Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix has become a cash windfall for the Republican Party of Iowa.The party accepted a $522,000 contribution from Dix’s campaign on March 26th, two weeks after the Shell Rock farmer quit the Legislature.Dix resigned after video was released showing the married lawmaker kissing a lobbyist in a Des Moines bar.Dix had previously faced criticism after the state paid a $1.75 million settlement to former Senate GOP communications director Kirsten Anderson, who was fired after complaining about sexual harassment.Anderson says Dix should have considered giving the money to the general fund to offset the settlement costs, which is allowed by state law.Iowa GOP spokesman Jesse Dougherty defended the move, saying “the money was raised to help elect and defend a Republican majority this fall.”Governor Kim Reynolds says it was an “appropriate decision” for Iowa Republicans to accept a $522,000 donation from Dix.Reynolds told reporters Wednesday she was “fine” with the Republican Party of Iowa accepting the contribution from the former Iowa Senate Majority Leader.last_img read more

Woman finds prehistoric bone after visit to northeastern BC museum

first_imgDAWSON CREEK, B.C. – A recent visit to two paleontology museums in northeastern British Columbia was all it took to turn a local woman into a dinosaur sleuth with a significant discovery to her credit.Nicky Taylor, her husband and a relative visiting from New Zealand, spent two days touring paleontology exhibits around the Peace River region in August and then decided to explore the Tumbler Ridge area hoping to spot interesting rocks and fossils.It didn’t take long for Taylor to spy something she thought was similar to exhibits she’d seen in the museums.They took pictures of the find and forwarded them to the Peace Region Paleontology Research Centre, which confirmed the item is indeed from a time when dinosaurs roamed the world.Scientists Richard McCrea and Lisa Buckley say the fossilized bone is unlike anything yet discovered around Tumbler Ridge and probably belonged to a marine reptile from the Cretaceous period, ending over 66 million years ago.Further study and consultation is needed but it’s expected the bone will eventually be displayed in the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery in Tumbler Ridge.Taylor credits her brief exposure to the paleontology museums for inspiring the find.“I would have thought nothing of it normally,” she says. “I would probably even have ignored it, but given our experiences the previous two days it was of a lot more interest.”Taylor picked up the fossilized remains after spotting them and says they were much heavier than she expected.Northeastern B.C. has a rich history of fossil discoveries. In 2008, scientists uncovered a 100-million-year-old dinosaur highway containing hundreds of fossilized prints west of Hudson’s Hope and kept it a secret until last year.The find was kept under wraps until the area could be properly protected and excavated.Researchers have also confirmed several other recent and unique discoveries, including a piece of a tyrannosaurus skull unearthed in June and believed to be about 75 million years old. (MooseFM)last_img read more