National Geographic : 2013 Dec
29 photo: DaviD Doubilet, NatioNal GeoGraphic creative. art: Álvaro valiÑo NEXT 1. (b) Gila monster spit. John eng, an endocrinologist in New York city, was studying venoms in the early 1990s when he began to work with a sample of Gila monster saliva he’d purchased by mail. the resulting drug, exenatide, was already on the market by the time eng finally saw his first Gila monster in the flesh, 14 years later. 2. (c) the american mastodon. after its discovery in claverack, New York, in 1705, this creature inspired debate. in 1796 French anatomist Georges cuvier compared multiple pachyderm species and argued that the mastodon was an extinct species, an idea that shattered Western ideas about the nature of life on earth. 3. (a) a marine sponge. in the 1950s compounds from a sponge species now known as Tectitethya crypta inspired researchers to develop early anticancer and antiviral drugs. in the 1980s they used that same model from the natural world to produce aZt, the first drug effective against hiv/aiDS. 4. (D) coral calcification. by studying the way corals construct their exoskeletons, Stanford researcher brent constantz devised a similar technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, mix them with seawater, and produce calcium carbonate as a raw material for cement. a current pilot project also aims to cut reliance on fossil fuels in cement manufacturing, the world’s third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. 5. (D) locusts. to find out how african locusts fly in swarms without banging into each other, rind made the insects watch clips of Star Wars movies. She recorded how their eyes and brains reacted to the fast-moving objects in the films. a three-wheeled robot guided by her team’s locust-style collision avoidance software has so far racked up a 91 percent success rate—oK as tested in a model city built with lego blocks, but not yet street ready. 6. (c) barnacles. a tiny barnacle he once collected led Darwin to work out minute differences within the barnacle infraclass cirri- pedia. it was exasperating work. he once said, “i hate a barnacle as no man ever did before.” but barnacles helped him develop his evolutionary theory and added to his credibility among scientists. ANSWERS FOR EXPLORERS QUIZ Gone Fishing the lookdown fish—named for its downward gaze—is a master at hiding in plain sight. its skin manipu- lates polarized light, allowing the fish to remain mostly undetected by predators in its brightly lit atlantic coastal habitat. the adaptation may prove useful for warfare too. the u.S . Navy requested research this year on whether the properties of the lookdown’s skin may be mimicked on ships and submarines. painting hulls with reflective paint, says biologist Molly cummings, may boost underwater camouflage. — Daniel Stone A school of lookdown fish is visible only from close range, a trait that could be useful for the military. Mars—named for the roman god of war—is represented by the male symbol. venus— named for the roman goddess of beauty—is represented by the female symbol.