In this week's installment of Weird Science Weekly, we're looking at some of the strangest science, like how we may soon be texting each other smells, the scary fact that crocodiles can climb trees, and toads that deliver some extreme 'stache-rash...
Delight friends and family with odours from anywhere
Smell-o-vision may still be out of reach, but U.S. researchers are on the verge of putting 'smell-texts' in the public domain. The oPhone — scheduled to go into limited released at the end of this year — uses chips with "unique aromatic profiles" called oNotes to emit a scent from the device, in response to an email, text or tweet. Lead developer David Edwards feels oNotes could help businesses expand their reach; say by providing a scent-sample of what a particular coffee might be like.
Personally, this has me concerned about the forthcoming "Does this milk smell bad?" texts from my wife.
Trying to escape a crocodile? Don't climb a tree...
A University of Tennessee research group has revealed that birds aren't the only modern dinosaurs who enjoy hanging out in the treetops. It seems crocodiles and alligators engage in some tree climbing, too.
The team found that four species of the reptiles they studied in Australia, Africa and North America all liked to bask in the sunlight out on a limb from time to time. They propose that the normally water-going animals used the trees to catch some rays (and regulate their body temperature) when there weren't any good spots to bask down on the ground, and also to give them a bird's-eye view of their territory, to keep a lookout for both prey and potential threats.
The same group published research back in December showing that some crocs and gators use lures to hunt prey — for instance, laying twigs across their snouts to attract unsuspecting nest-building birds.
So that's where Battletoads came from...
Facial hair always makes a statement, and in the case of the Emei moustache toad, the statement is "keep out of my territory, or I'll stab you."
The toads, which live primarily in southwestern provinces of China, are entering their breeding season right now, and that means the males are sporting handsome moustaches of 10 to 16 spines made of keratin, with which they will fight for and defend the best breeding sites. A University of Guelph research team published their findings after observing the mating season closely last year. Researcher Cameron Hudson reported while the toads don't seem to fight to the death, most do come away with a lot of puncture wounds. Peace returns to the riverbed in early March, when the females leave the breeding ground and the males shed their spikey 'staches.
I always wondered where the inspiration for the Battletoads video game came from. One less mystery in life...
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Keep your eyes on the wonders of science, and if you spot anything particularly strange you'd like me to check out for next week, comment below or drop me a line on Twitter!
(Images courtesy: oPhone, K. Gingras/University of Tennessee, Getty)
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