Researchers at the University of Illinois have used an innovative approach to reveal the molecular basis of altruistic behavior in wasps. The research team focused on the expression of behavior-related genes in Polistes metricus paper wasps, a species for which little genetic data was available when the study was begun. Like honey bee workers, wasp workers give up their reproductive capabilities and focus entirely on nurturing their larval siblings, a practice that seems to defy the Darwinian prediction that a successful organism strives, above all else, to reproduce itself. Such behaviors are indicative of a eusocial society, in which some individuals lose, or sacrifice, their reproductive functions and instead work to benefit the larger group.
Birds that hang out in large urban areas seem to have a marked advantage over their rural cousins — they are adaptable enough to survive in a much larger range of conditions.
Shore crabs (Carcinus maenas) catch their food at food-rich spots and subsequently eat it elsewhere. With this take-out strategy the crabs maximise their food uptake and keep competing crabs at a distance, says Dutch researcher Isabel Smallegange.
If a piece of toast fell on the floor, would you pick it up and eat it? You probably would if you believe in the 5-second rule, which suggests that your spilled breakfast stays germ-free as long as you snatch it up in five seconds.