When it’s completely silent, can you hear the tiny footsteps of a centipede? Can you hear a snail eat? In series 6 of Bang Goes The Theory, the BBC's Jem Stansfield sets up in a sound proof room to record a few amazingly quiet creatures.
Fun fact: a snail is a mollusk, and there are over 100,000 identified kinds including snails, slugs, clams, oysters, squids, and octopuses. If you study mollusks, you’re a malacologist. If you study sound (and vibrations and other related subjects), you’re an acoustician.
There are more videos with great sounds in the archives.
Please enjoy this Enoshima Aquarium footage of leptocephalus, eels (and similar kinds of fish) in their transparent larval phase. This stage can last longer than most other larval phases, from three months to a year. From wikipedia:
This is one of the most diverse groups of teleosts, containing 801 species over the span of 24 orders, 24 families, and 156 genera. It is supposed that this group arose in the Cretaceous period over 140 million years ago…
Leptocephali (singular leptocephalus) all have laterally compressed bodies that contain transparent jelly-like substances on the inside of the body and a thin layer of muscle with visible myomeres on the outside. Their body organs are small and they possess only a simple tube for a gut. This combination of features results in them being very transparent when they are alive.
Related transparent viewing: the barreleye fish (an internet classic), as well as this fly-eating glass mantis. There are also lots of fish swimming in the archives.
Via jtotheizzoe, watch Return of the Cicadas by Samuel Orr, a beautifully shot film that shows the insect’s unique 17-year life cycle in detail.
With soil temperatures along the East Coast now above the mid-60’s, the Brood II cicadas are up and chirping! Check out WNYC/Radiolab’s real-time Cicada Tracker map to see where they have been observed:
The video above is a jaw-droppingly superb look at the rise of the magicicada from its underground lair, their mass ascent to the trees, their monstrous metamorphosis into adults, and their brief mission to avoid being eaten and reproduce…
More cicada stuff:
If any of you on the East Coast have photos or video of abandoned shells, climbing juveniles, or chirping adults, I’d love to see them! Tweet me or email them to itsokaytobesmart at gmail dot com.
Sir David Attenborough with cicadas and so many insect videos(!) in the archives.
Amazing Cicada Life Cycle, presented (and bewitched) by the amazing Sir David Attenborough in this clip from the BBC’s Life in the Undergrowth.
“Magicicada Brood II will make its 17-year appearance when the ground 8” down is a steady 64°F,” reports Radiolab in this excellent Cicada Tracker DIY project page. And why 17 years underground? From Scientific American:
The curious phenomenon of the cicada’s periodical life cycle is the subject of much debate among scientists, who are limited to no small extent by the infrequency of the insect’s visits to the surface. Most agree, however, that climate shifts — notably the rapid warming following the end of the last ice age — have played a role.
There are seven species of periodical cicadas in North America, four bound to a 13-year cycle, three in a 17-year cycle. All are characterized by black and orange bodies, and males woo their mates with species-specific choruses that can be deafening in large numbers.
The genetic similarity of these seven species suggests a common ancestor in the last 8,000 years. And because emergence seems closely linked to soil temperature and moisture, it is likely that climate has played a role in both regulating their life cycles and cueing their appearance.
Cicadas don’t sting or bite. After a few weeks making noise up in the trees (measured at 94 decibles), eggs will be laid and will hatch. After feeding on sap, these hatchlings will drop down to burrow and live underground, next seen in the year 2030.