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Wednesday, 19 September 2018 00:00

Beetle Feet Inspire New Type of Silicone

Scientists are mimicking the behavior of insects while designing a type of silicone that is more adhesive than previous versions. The team of researchers at Kiel University spent time studying the feet of male leaf beetles, which feature a design similar to a mushroom. This design allows them to easily move across surfaces like ceilings and walls without gravity taking its course.

To design their new type of silicone, researchers shaped silicone elastomers into mushroom shapes, then treated them with plasma. They found that the material’s adhesiveness was helped along by the chemical, but the curvature worked with the plasma to better stick to surfaces.

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Animal species aren’t alone in going extinct. It turns out, bacteria eventually vanish, as well, although until recently scientists thought it was a rare occurrence. But researchers have now found that 45,000 to 95,000 bacteria types have vanished in the past million years, a process that happened gradually rather than in a mass event like dinosaurs.

The information was uncovered in a research study designed to discover how simple organisms survive over many years. Study lead Dr. Stilianos Louca believes the evolution and diversification of bacteria has, in fact, shaped the geochemical composition of Earth over the course of history. One major example of this was the Great Oxygenation Event, which was caused by cyanobacteria, Dr. Louca says. This event dramatically changed the planet’s surface environments, as well as affecting the evolution of life that followed.

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Humans have striven for centuries to communicate with members of the animal kingdom, but in recent years, scientists have gotten better at understanding them. A new study may take us a step closer to how horses communicate – particularly when it comes to what they’re trying to say when they snort.

A team in France began studying the snorting exhale that can be heard in every horse at some point or another. The study concluded that when a horse snorts, the action is likely a positive thing. The team looked at 48 horses, recording 560 snorts, as well as what they were doing when the snort came out.

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