Monday, June 14, 2010

Pinheads Multitasking

I hate mosquitoes. I don't know why, but I always have the worst reaction to their bites, and I never notice them landing on me. They always manage to dodge me at the last second when I try to swat them, too.

I just don't get how something so small can be so crafty. I mean, I've got fingernail trimmings that are bigger than their brains, and yet they still get the job done, sneaking in, drinking up, and getting away clear. (I wish I could pull that trick at bars!)

University of Adelaide is thinking about bug brains, too. Professor David O'Carroll has been looking at the way that insects are able to judge motion and speed. It turns out that some parts of their brain pull double duty--their vision center also takes into account different light patterns and uses that to judge speed. O'Carroll points out that insects can have as much as 30% of their brain devoted to the visual system, which is more than other animals, so it makes sense that they'd apply it to different tasks in order to get the most efficient usage of space.

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The header image is adapted from a photo taken by Bill McChesney and used under a creative commons license.
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