I haven’t been doing that much interwebbing lately, but I thought it would be best not to skip the weekly links again. However, I hesitate to call this a link “roundup” seeing as I only have 2 stories for today: sperm-shooting squid and egg-stacking beetles.
Sperm to spare
First, the tale of the lonely male squid. This one’s gotten a lot of press, so you’ve probably already read about it by now. The deep sea squid Octopoteuthis deletron has a bit of a dating problem. There just aren’t that many other deep sea squid around. The solution for a lonely squid boy? Shoot any squid you happen to come across with your sperm, in the chance that it’s a female and will use your sperm to fertilize her eggs. This means both males and females get blasted indiscriminately with sperm packets, but hey, these squid don’t let an opportunity just swim on by. Of course, in predictable media fashion, this story has been hyped up to be something it’s not. The squid aren’t homosexual or bisexual; that would imply they have some kind of preference or are at least aware of the sex of their sperm assault victims. PZ Meyers also seems a little annoyed at all this anthropomorphizing.
Eggs to spare
This one is from my Alma Mater, the University of Arizona. Southern Arizona has all kinds of freaky bugs and plants, most of which you do not want to touch. This story involves two kinds of bugs: a beetle and a wasp. The wasp is the antagonist in this story: it lays its eggs inside the eggs of the beetle. The wasp larvae use up all the nutrients in the egg before the beetle embryos even have a chance. This very well-written piece describes how a graduate student at the UofA discovered the beetle’s strategy to protect against wasp attacks. The punchline: female seed beetles stack their eggs on top of each other, so the top ones can protect the bottom eggs from the parasitic wasps. Want to know the even crazier part? The eggs on the top are duds! The wasps can lay their eggs all they want in those ones; they’ll never hatch! Beetles-2, Wasps-0.