How many thousands of ants do you think are in this floating ant raft? I mean, the size of it is just ridiculous and there’s more ants clumped up in balls on top of the raft too. Ants have been known to link their legs and mouths with each other to create these sort of ant rafts during flooding but this one is more like the size of an ant island. Apparently, they can survive for weeks just holding each other like this.
When the flooding finally stops, they’ll go back to building their homes again. This particular ant raft was spotted out in Texas.
Flight is one of those evolutionary wonders that’s hard to fully appreciate with two squishy eyeballs and a linear sense of time. But we’re no longer limited to what nature gave us, thanks to the wonders of photo editing. As Barcelona-based photographer Xavi Bou shows, a few simple tricks can reveal the dizzying artistry of a bird rustling its wings.
When Bou began his “Ornithographies” project five years back, he was curious about the flight paths birds would make if our perception of time was different. “When I found the way, I realized that I was doing something similar that what was done 150 years ago,” he told Gizmodo. “It was chronophotography.”
A predecessor to motion pictures, chronophotography was developed in the Victorian era for the scientific study of movement. The idea was to capture many different frames of motion—a horse cantering across a field, for instance—which could be layered into an animation frame or single image. Eventually, chronophotography spawned the first cinematic devices; things like the Kinetoscope that allowed people to watch short, continuous looping animations. (Our love affair with GIFs goes way, way back.)
While chronophotography sounds a bit archaic, stitching many frames together into a single image can still yield astounding results. Each of the images in Bou’s Ornithographies series is a collage; hundreds of frames captured in just a few seconds of flight. Evoking everything from ribboned linguini noodles to twisted roller coasters, the flight pattern of birds underscore just how much the perception of time structures our reality—and what a crazy, kaleidoscopic mess we’d be living in if time ceased to exist.
Known as the Codex Selden, the mysterious book dates to about 1560. Other Mexican codices recovered from this period contained colorfulpictographs — images that represent words or phrases — which have been translated as descriptions of alliances, wars, rituals and genealogies, according to the study authors.
But Codex Selden was blank — or so it seemed. Made from a strip of deerskin measuring about 16 feet (5 meters) long, the hide was folded accordion-style into pages, which were layered with a white paint mixture known as gesso. In the 1950s, experts suspected that there might be more to this codex than its empty pages suggested, when cracks in the gesso revealed tantalizing glimpses of colorful images lurking underneath the chalky outer layer, which was likely added so that the book could be reused.
In the years that followed, scientists carefully removed some of the gesso in several areas of the codex, but the images were still mostly obscured. Infrared imaging provided general shapes of the pictographs under the gesso, but not much detail. And X-ray scanning — commonly used with art objects or historical artifacts to explore unseen layers — failed to reveal these hidden pictures because they were created with organic paints and don’t absorb X-rays.
But a newer technique called hyperspectral imaging was able to penetrate the layers of gesso by collecting information from all frequencies and wavelengths across the electromagnetic spectrum. The researchers were finally able to view the underlying images without damaging the pages, and discovered a collection of images, inked in red, yellow and orange. [Image Gallery: Ancient Texts Go Online]
They analyzed seven pages of the codex, describing parades of figures that represented men and women, with 27 people on one page of the codex alone. The figures were seated and standing. Two figures were identified as siblings, as they were connected by a red umbilical cord. Some of the figures were walking with sticks or spears, and several of the women had red hair or headdresses.
The researchers also recognized a recurring combination of glyphs — a flint or knife and a twisted cord — as a personal name. That name, they said, might belong to a character who appears in other codices — an important ancestral figure in two known lineages. However, further investigation would be required before they could confirm whether this is the same person, the study authors said, and novel imaging technology will likely play an important role in filling in the missing pieces of this centuries-old puzzle.
Hyperspectral imaging showed “great promise” for this reconstruction of the hidden codex, according to David Howell, study co-author and head of heritage science at the Bodleian Libraries, where the codex is housed.
“This is very much a new technique,” Howell said in a statement. “We’ve learned valuable lessons about how to use hyperspectral imaging in the future both for this very fragile manuscript and for countless others like it.”
Parasites. They can invade the blood, the digestive tract, even the bile duct. They enter through the mouth, through the skin, through the nose. They can cause disease, blindness and sometimes death.
Full body shudders, right? But as disgusting as parasites are, they’re also elegant examples of evolution. The following images reveal these dangerous organisms in microscopic detail.
A tick-borne bacteria
Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
This confetti-like image is Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease. This parasite evolved to live in the blood of small mammals, which usually don’t show any ill effects of infection, according to a 2009 paper published in the journal Infectious Disease Clinics of North America. But when ticks of theIxodes genus feed on small mammals, they can go on to transmit the parasite to larger vertebrates — including humans. Once infected, people experience fatigue, fever and often a red, circular rash that may look like a bull’s-eye. Without treatment (with antibiotics), Lyme disease can progress and cause arthritis, meningitis and neurological symptoms like pain and numbness.
The dreaded tapeworm
No microscope is needed for a close look at the tapeworm Taenia saginata, which regularly reaches 33 feet (10 meters) in length. This tapeworm hatches inside the digestive tract of cattle, and larvae spread into the muscle. The worm spreads to humans who eat raw or undercooked beef from an infected cow. Once in the human host, the worm attaches to the intestinal wall, siphoning nutrients and self-fertilizing to make eggs excreted through the feces — hopefully, from the worm’s point of view, into a field where a cow might be grazing.
Credit: CDC/ Dr. Stan Erlandsen
Giardia, a parasitic protozoan transmitted by untreated drinking water, causes giardiasis, a diarrheal illness accompanied by nausea and fatigue. Under a microscope, the protozoan’s adaptations for life in the digestive system are visible: A suction-cup disk for adhering to surfaces and four pairs of flagella for moving around.
Invading the blood
Credit: CDC/ Dr. Mae Melvin
The dark pink specks in this microscopic image of blood are hemoprotozoan parasites called Babesia. This is a tick-borne illness seen in the Midwest and the Northeast. The symptoms are a bit like those of malaria: Fever, anemia, fatigue and chills. Ixodes scapularis ticks – the same kind that spread Lyme disease — are also responsible for passing around Babesia parasites. The protozoa reproduce inside red blood cells, often budding to form a trademark four-pronged cross shape.
Sheep liver fluke
This unassuming oval is the egg of Fasciola hepatica, the sheep liver fluke. Despite its name, this fluke can infect humans, where it sets up shop in the liver and bile ducts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people usually pick up an infection by eating watercress or other aquatic plants. The parasite can cause chronic inflammation of the liver, bile ducts, gallbladder and pancreas, according to the CDC.
Spread through snails
Credit: CDC/ Marianna Wilson
Schistosoma mansoni, is a parasitic worm spread when human skin comes into contact with infested water. This worm lives its life cycle in two hosts: Freshwater snails (where the eggs hatch into free-swimming larvae) and vertebrates, including humans. The ensuring disease is called schistosomiasis or, sometimes, swimmer’s rash after the itchy red rash people often experience after the larvae penetrates their skin. Chronic infection can lead to damage in the intestine and bladder as the worms release their eggs, according to the CDC.
Hookworms: A good reason not to go barefoot in the summer, at least not when walking through a freshly fertilized field. These nematodes spread when an infected person defecates outside; the worm eggs hatch in the soil and then develop into larvae capable of burrowing into bare skin. According to the CDC, hookworm used to be widespread in the United States, but improved hygiene has greatly reduced infections.
Many people carry hookworms in their intestines without symptoms, but the parasites can cause gastrointestinal distress and sometimes anemia.
Credit: CDC/ Dr. Mae Melvin
Among the most spine-tingling parasites is the Guinea worm, a nematode that doesn’t have the decency to even stay inside its host. Guinea worms spread when humans ingest untreated water. They hatch in the digestive system and migrate and reproduce inside the body. The female then journeys to the muscle and skin and makes her escape, trying to emerge through a blister over excruciating weeks.
To extract the worm more swiftly, doctors often try to wrap it around a stick, slowly winding it out of the wound over several days. Because female guinea worms can grow up to 31 inches in length (80 centimeters), this is a slow, disgusting and painful process.
Credit: CDC/ Dr. George Healy
Here’s something you don’t want to see squirming under your skin. This is the larva of the Cuterebra botfly, a parasitic fly. This particular larva infects rodents and rabbits, but a closely related parasite, Dermatobia hominis, targets humans.
Adult female flies spread their eggs to humans in a surprising way: They snag a mosquito or tick and lay their eggs on the unsuspecting vector’s body. When the insect goes on to bite a person, the eggs or hatched larvae drop off and enter the skin, where they develop for a couple of months before emerging to complete their life cycle as free-living organisms. During the larval stage, the maggots are often visible as small bumps and must be surgically removed from the skin.
Credit: CDC/Dr. R.C. Collins
The pink, wormy swoosh visible in the center of this image is Onchocerca volvulus, a nematode seen developing in a black fly. Black flies are blood-feeders that spread O. volvuluswith their bites. In the human body, the worms roost in subcutaneous tissues, mating and reproducing. When the worms migrate to the eye tissue, they can cause the cornea to go opaque, a condition called onchocerciasis, or river blindness.
Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor
Stephanie interned as a science writer at Stanford University Medical School, and also interned at ScienceNow magazine and the Santa Cruz Sentinel. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
A woman in Japan went to the hospital after eating a meal of raw fish that turned out to contain an extra, unwanted ingredient: parasitic wormsthat eventually burrowed into the walls of her stomach.
The 36-year-old woman went to the hospital after two days of chest and stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, according to a recent report of her case.
She told the doctors that the pain had started about 2 hours after she ate uncooked salmon, the doctors wrote in their report, published Wednesday (Aug. 17) in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The doctors ran several tests, including some to make sure there were no problems with the woman’s heart, due to the location of the pain. The tests revealed no heart problems; however, an imaging test showed that the walls of her stomach had thickened. [Here’s a Giant List of the Strangest Medical Cases We’ve Covered]
When the doctors inserted a small camera into her stomach, they found the culprits: 11 anisakis larvae, a type of parasitic roundworm.
Anisakis worms cause an infection called anisakiasis, said Dr. Uichiro Fuchizaki, a gastroenterologist at Keiju Medical Center in Japan who treated the woman and a co-author of the report. People can get infected by eating raw fish or undercooked seafood that contains the worms, according to the report.
The worms can burrow into the walls of the stomach or the small intestine, though it is much more common to find them in the stomach, Fuchizaki said. About 95 percent of anisakiasis cases are in the stomach, he told Live Science.
When the worms burrow into the walls of the stomach, the symptoms usually develop within several hours of eating contaminated fish, Fuchizaki said. If the infection occurred in the small intestine, however, the symptoms wouldn’t start until one to five days later, he said.
Some people may notice the worms even sooner than a few hours after eating raw fish — in some instances, people actually feel a tingling sensation in their mouth or throat while they are eating, which is caused by the worm moving around there, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some people may be able to remove the worm with their hand or by coughing, the CDC says. Vomiting, which is often a symptom of anisakiasis, can also expel the worms, the CDC says.
In most cases, people experience pain and other stomach problems because the worms are damaging the tissue of the digestive tract, Fuchizaki said. But some people may be allergic to the worms, and experience an allergic reaction if they eat them, he said.
Because the worms do not reproduce in humans, they eventually die and cause an inflamed mass, according to the CDC.
In the woman’s case, doctors used a camera and forceps (a tool that looks like tweezers) to remove the 11 worms from the the woman’s stomach. Some of the worms were found in the area where the esophagus meets the stomach, according to the report. This area is located close to the heart, which is why the woman had chest pain.
Most cases of anisakis infection involve only one or two worms, Fuchizaki said.
After removing the worms, the woman’s symptoms went away, according to the report.
Anisakiasis is more commonly found in Japan, where eating raw fish is popular, according to the CDC. But it is expected to become more common in other parts of the world as the popularity of raw fish dishes grows, Fuchizaki said.