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Latest Robert Schofield Stories

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2010-12-09 14:07:51

When their razor-sharp mandibles wear out, leaf-cutter ants change jobs, remaining productive while letting their more efficient sisters take over cutting, say researchers from two Oregon universities. Their study -- appearing online ahead of regular publication in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology -- provides a glimpse of nature's way of providing for its displaced workers. "This study demonstrates an advantage of social living that we are familiar with -- humans that can no...

2009-02-26 11:03:33

Next time you have an unlucky encounter with a crab's pinchers, consider that the claw tips may be reinforced with bromine-rich biomaterial 1.5 times harder than acrylic glass and extremely fracture resistant, says a University of Oregon scientist.Residents on the U.S. West Coast may have had close encounters with the biomaterial -- detailed by a seven-member team in a paper published online in advance of regular publication in the Journal of Structural Biology. The translucent substance...


Word of the Day
humgruffin
  • A terrible or repulsive person.
Regarding the etymology of 'humgruffin,' the OED says (rather unhelpfully) that it's a 'made-up word.' We might guess that 'hum' comes from 'humbug' or possibly 'hum' meaning 'a disagreeable smell,' while 'gruffin' could be a combination of 'gruff' and 'griffin.'