To wrap up, some respite from the pandemic — five recent nuggets of news from the weird and wonderful animal kingdom:
- Take a deep breath (preferably frontways): A team of Japanese scientists has shown that it’s possible for mammals to absorb oxygen via the anus. And if mice, rats and pigs can breathe through their bottoms, perhaps humans can too. Science, make it so.
- Why are rhinoceros beetles, which are supposedly nocturnal, hanging around my tree all day? That was the question an 11-year-old boy in Saitama set about answering. Two years on, his groundbreaking findings have now been published in a U.S. journal.
- Twitter can “speed up the time-consuming discovery of new species” and “contribute to the development of science,” a Hosei University professor claims, after social media posts led to the discovery of a new mite in Chiba — named Ameronothrus twitter.
- A new party is staking claim to the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea: Satellite imagery suggests that the number of endangered albatrosses has more than doubled on one of the disputed rocks since the last time anyone bothered looking.
- Don’t try this at home, folks, but Japanese researchers have shown that some sea slugs can self-decapitate and regrow their bodies. And if sea slugs can do it, perhaps humans can too. But will the abandoned body be able to breathe through its anus?