Humans consider standing on one leg something best done in a yoga class. Flamingos, on the other hand, consider it the most comfortable sleeping position. And they never seem to fall. The reason behind it remains obscure, so Young-Hui Chang of Georgia Tech and Lena Ting of Emory University set out to find a definitive reason. The bird’s skeleton appears to be the key. As with humans, flamingos have two main joints in their leg. The one you can see, that bends backward, is not the knee. That’s the bird’s ankle. Its knee is hidden at the fatter part of the bird’s body. When the flamingo is ready to nod off, it lifts one leg and moves its body so its single foot isn’t under its hip. Instead, it’s centered directly under the carriage of bird. Meanwhile, pulling the other leg up forces the knee to bend, which the flamingo rests on. All the joints essentially snap into place.
Self-destructing moth to be tested
Researchers in a New York cabbage patch are planning the first release on American soil of insects genetically engineered to die before they can reproduce. It’s a pesticide-free attempt to control invasive diamondback moths, a voracious consumer of cabbage, broccoli and other cruciferous crops that’s notorious for its ability to shrug off every new poison in the agricultural arsenal. Anthony Shelton, a Cornell University researcher who’s been studying the species for 40 years, is awaiting a permit to release the moths freely in a 10-acre cabbage patch at Cornell’s Agricultural Experiment Station. The laboratory-bred moths have a synthetic “self-limiting” gene that makes their female larvae die before they mature. Lab-bred males are released to breed with wild females, reducing the population over time by suppressing reproduction.