Spider Milk? Researchers Make Surprising Discovery

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It was an arachnid mystery: Scientists studying a particular type of spider couldn’t figure out how the babies kept growing in the nest even though mom wasn’t bringing back any food to them. Then a researcher spotted a baby clinging to its mother’s abdomen. “I had this radical idea that maybe spider moms feed their babies with something they produced,“ Zhanqi Chen of the Chinese Academy of Science tells New Scientist of the jumping spider Toxeus magnus. He was spot on: It turns out mothers feed their offspring “milk,“ similar to mammals, the researchers report in Science. Technically, the secretion from the abdomen might not be milk—spiders don’t have the special glands required—but it’s at least milk-ish, perhaps made up of partially digested eggs that went unfertilized, explains Popular Science.

And when researchers describe it as a “nutritious milk-like substance,“ they’re not kidding. The stuff has four times the protein of cow’s milk. Researchers found that the mother continues feeding her offspring for about 40 days, though the spiders are able to leave the nest at 20 days and begin supplementing their diet with insects. Generally, females were allowed to return more frequently to feed than their male counterparts, reports Gizmodo. When the scientists blocked the mother’s secretion glands, her baby spiders died after about 10 days. And if they removed her from the nest at 20 days, the babies had a significantly lower rate of survival. When it comes to spiders, “this type of maternal care may be more widespread than has been assumed,“ the researchers conclude.

Scientists Just Discovered a Quirk of Whale Songs

The Free Press WV

Researchers studying the songs of humpback whales have discovered a quirk of the undersea music: The whales sing the same song for a few years, adding individual embellishments and making it increasingly complex all the while. And then, poof, they switch to a simpler tune and start the cycle over again. In fact, lead researcher Jenny Allen of the University of Queensland refers to this switch as a “cultural revolution” in a UQ news release. So why the abrupt change to a new tune? One theory is that the songs become so complex that the whales reach their limit of being able to learn new material, according to the study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The researchers studied 412 song cycles from 95 singing whales over 13 years, per Science. While the whales generally sing the same song, the researchers found that individuals add their own touches, perhaps to help them stand out. (Only the males sing.) Another part of the pattern: Whale populations sometimes pick up a new tune from a different population—such as when eastern Australian humpbacks meet their western counterparts at a common feeding ground. Smithsonian likens this to a game of whale “telephone.“ But the same pattern follows: The songs begin simple and grow more complex until they’re ditched altogether for a new one.

Elon Musk Says He’ll Likely Move to Mars

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When asked about his plans to visit the Red Planet, the SpaceX founder declared there’s a 70 percent chance he’ll go — for good.

“I’m talking about moving there,” Musk explained.

The cost of such a trip would likely be “around a couple hundred thousand dollars,” Musk estimated, though he doesn’t expect Mars to turn into the Solar System’s gated community for the rich.

“Not much time for leisure,” he said, describing the challenges of life on Mars.

“There’s a good chance of death.”

Learn More:    Fortune      Axios

Mobile Internet Tops Wi-Fi Speeds in 33 Countries

The Free Press WV

A new study by wireless coverage mapping company OpenSignal found that in 41 percent of 80 countries surveyed, mobile data speeds were faster than those offered by Wi-Fi hotspots.

In Australia, Qatar and Lebanon, for instance, the difference was more than 10 Mbps in mobile data’s favor, while in places with speedy home broadband, like Singapore, Hong Kong and the U.S., Wi-Fi still had the edge.

The study suggests many users shouldn’t scramble for a café to find a decent connection.

Learn More:    Gizmodo    Engadget

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