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   Undertoad  Thursday Dec 21 07:33 AM

December 21, 2006: Moth drinks tears



New Scientist via Mental Floss via Neatorama is the tracking for this very strange and frightening item.

Quote:
The Madagascan moths were observed on the necks of sleeping magpie robins and Newtonia birds, with the tip of their proboscises inserted under the bird's eyelid, drinking avidly. This was during the wet season, so the scientists think the insects wanted salt, as the local soils are low in sodium.

But sleeping birds have two eyelids, both closed. So instead of the soft, straw-like mouthparts found on tear-drinking moths elsewhere, the Madagascan moth has a proboscis with hooks and barbs "shaped like an ancient harpoon"Ě, Hilgartner says.

This can be inserted under the bird's eyelids, where the barbs anchor it, apparently without disturbing the bird. The team does not yet know whether the insect spits out an anaesthetic to dull the irritation.
Here's the proboscis in question. It's coming for you as you sleep:




footfootfoot  Thursday Dec 21 07:36 AM

too many moths to feed...



Sheldonrs  Thursday Dec 21 08:33 AM

Does Visine get the moth out?



glatt  Thursday Dec 21 09:27 AM

I accept evolution as the most likely explanation for how we all are what we are, but DAMN. That's just amazing. You gotta wonder what steps were taken over the eons for the moths to form a nasty barbed proboscis like this.

I mean, the moths had to be smart enough in the first place to sneak up on sleeping animals and suck their tears, which I suppose isn't such a leap. We've all seen flies buzzing around the eyes of cattle or starving Ethiopian kids. These moths just do it at night. But then they had to evolve barbs at some time. Amazing. Just amazing.



ajaccio  Thursday Dec 21 09:44 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by glatt
...I mean, the moths had to be smart enough in the first place to sneak up on sleeping animals and suck their tears, which I suppose isn't such a leap. We've all seen flies buzzing around the eyes of cattle or starving Ethiopian kids. These moths just do it at night. But then they had to evolve barbs at some time. Amazing. Just amazing.
Agreed. But before they even got smart enough to sneak up, they had to somehow know that the tears were even there to be gotten. How did they know? Smell?

I also wonder how this is for the birds. A good thing? Does it benefit them somehow? Or does it depelete them of needed tears that keep their eyes moistenened?


Elspode  Thursday Dec 21 10:08 AM

Several thoughts:

1) I'll never complain about eye boogers again.

2) Somebody missed out on a chance to have made Mothra a lot more interesting when he battled Godzilla.

3) Literary: "He was drawn to her willowy beauty, as a moth with a barbed proboscis is drawn to the eye of a teary magpie robin at rest."



Griff  Thursday Dec 21 10:24 AM

Thank you for the sig.



Undertoad  Thursday Dec 21 11:11 AM

Glatt, I'm such a layman on this stuff. But thinking about it, I wonder if insects are specialists because their lifespan is so short that they evolve "quickly". Instead of getting more complicated to be able to adapt to changing conditions, they're genetically simple and just wind up evolving to consume whatever is available.



glatt  Thursday Dec 21 11:19 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Undertoad
I wonder if insects are specialists because their lifespan is so short that they evolve "quickly".
Excellent point. I'm just a layman as well, but that makes a lot of sense to me.


wolf  Thursday Dec 21 12:23 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Undertoad
Here's the proboscis in question. It's coming for you as you sleep:
You. Really. Suck.


Trilby  Thursday Dec 21 12:28 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Griff
Thank you for the sig.
Damn YOU! That's a great sig!

(els is especially talented, no?)


Griff  Thursday Dec 21 12:38 PM

seriously well wired for words



Elspode  Thursday Dec 21 01:19 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Griff
Thank you for the sig.
You're welcome. I was pretty proud of that, my intended replacement for "like a moth to a flame".


milkfish  Thursday Dec 21 01:21 PM

Did someone switch the Earth with an bizarre alien planet when we weren't looking?



bbro  Thursday Dec 21 01:24 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolf
You. Really. Suck.
My thoughts exactly


Elspode  Thursday Dec 21 01:51 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by milkfish
Did someone switch the Earth with an bizarre alien planet when we weren't looking?
Didn't Oscar Wilde say that the Earth was an insane asylum for the rest of the Universe? Maybe it is the scary animal zoo as well...


DanaC  Thursday Dec 21 02:50 PM

Not to mention the secret museum.



be-bop  Thursday Dec 21 06:54 PM

Moths drink tears
sounds like a prog band..



xoxoxoBruce  Thursday Dec 21 09:56 PM

Hard to believe that bird can sleep through getting it's eyes sucked...... without being drunk as a skunk.
Also that the moth can whip out his prominent proboscis and insert it precisily... no poking or prodding to find the sweet spot.



CaliforniaMama  Friday Dec 22 02:15 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce
Also that the moth can whip out his prominent proboscis and insert it precisily... no poking or prodding to find the sweet spot.
If only my doctor's could be so kind . . .


CaliforniaMama  Friday Dec 22 02:18 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elspode
"He was drawn to her willowy beauty, as a moth with a barbed proboscis is drawn to the eye of a teary magpie robin at rest."
Propel propel propel your craft
Gently down the liquid solution
Ecstatically ecstatically ecstatically ecstatically
Life is but an illusion

(as a substitute for row row row your boat)

5th grade writing assignment - probably the only literary bit I will remember for the rest of my life.

A complete non-sequitor, I know.


Shawnee123  Friday Dec 22 08:47 AM

CaliMama...that would make a great thread assignment as well.



Elspode  Friday Dec 22 10:24 AM

Yeah, that's a good one. Something similar is "Politically Correct Sports Team Names". i.e.:

The Kansas City Native American Tribal Leaders

The Green Bay Exploited Immigrant Animal Product Processors

The Dallas Horseborne Herders of Bovines

The Miami Aquatic Mammals



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