What are animal weapons?

In this episode of In Situ Science we travel to New Zealand to spend some time with a research group from the University of Auckland that specialise in studying the behaviour and evolution of insects, spiders and harvestmen. This research group is currently working towards understanding the evolution of animal weapons.

The lab’s leader Dr Greg Holwell introduces us to spiders and harvestmen with enormous and exaggerated that the males use for fighting. We also meet the world’s longest weevil, the New Zealand Giraffe weevil (Lasiorhynchus barbicornis). Male giraffe weevils use their enormous rostrum to fight for access to females, whereas the females use their long rostrum like a drill to dig into tree trunks and make small holes where they can lay their eggs.

For more behind the scenes science stories visit http://www.insituscience.com

Find out more at http://www.gregholwell.com and http://www.chrissiepainting.com

Music: ‘Zest’ by Basematic is used under a creative commons license.

What is a Scientific Illustrator?

Observation, patience and attention to detail are skills necessary for both art and science. In Situ Science explores what it takes to be a scientific illustrator specialising in producing highly detailed and accurate images that demonstrate scientific concepts, specimens and procedures.

Erin Walsh from the Australian National University is a research scientist and a scientific illustrator. Her skill and passion for illustration has helped shaped her scientific career. Along with conducting her own research she contributes to other scientists’ work by providing her clients with scientifically accurate artwork, figures and diagrams.

See more of Erin’s work www.negaleg.com

For more behind the scenes stories of Australasian Science visit www.insituscience.com

Follow us on Twitter @insituscience

Music – “Funny Song” http://www.bensound.com

Created by James O’Hanlon – www.jamesohanlonresearch.wordpress.com

Additional footage: Erin Walsh and Ravindra Palavalli Nettimi

Lizard Societies – Julia Riley from Macquarie University

Why are animals social? 

Researchers from Macquarie University in Sydney are delving into the private lives of skinks to understand why animals bond together.

Reptiles are not usually considered the friendliest of animals, nor are they generally considered ‘social’ animals in the same way mammals and insects are. But recent research is showing us that we have underestimated our cold-blooded companions, and that lizards can form complex social networks.

Julia Riley, an ecologist from Macquarie University, is using DNA to examine whether Australian tree skinks (Egernia striolata) form family groups, and how they can benefit from bonding together.

You can find out more about Julia’s research at her website,  or visit the Lizard Lab website to see what her colleagues are up to.