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Stories by Katherine Harmon

What's in Your Wiener? Hot Dog Ingredients Explained

This Fourth of July holiday, collectively Americans will eat some 150 million hot dogs, according to industry analysts. Lined up, that substantial serving of frankfurters would stretch from sea to shining sea—several times...

July 4, 2017 — Katherine Harmon

Are Zombie Bees Infiltrating Your Neighborhood?

Update Sept. 11, 2015: ZomBee Watch, a citizen science project, reported on September 1, 2015 that one of its participants, Joseph Naughton, discovered and captured a honey bee parasitized by the zombie fly Apocephalus borealis on his porch in New York...

September 11, 2015 — Katherine Harmon
Major Flooding Inundates Drought-Stricken Colorado Cities

Major Flooding Inundates Drought-Stricken Colorado Cities

LONGMONT, Colo.—Three days of soaking rain in Colorado have unleashed damaging floods in and around Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs and isolated some towns in the foothills of the Rockies...

September 12, 2013 — Katherine Harmon
How Octopus Arms Regenerate With Ease

How Octopus Arms Regenerate With Ease

Like a starfish, an octopus can regrow lost arms. Unlike a starfish, a severed octopus arm does not regrow another octopus. But the biological secrets inside their arm regeneration feat do hold the promise of learning more about how we might better regenerate our own diseased or lost tissue...

August 28, 2013 — Katherine Harmon
Even Severed Octopus Arms Have Smart Moves

Even Severed Octopus Arms Have Smart Moves

The eight wily arms of an octopus can help the animal catch dinner, open a jar and even complete a convincing disguise. But these arms are not entirely under the control of the octopus’s brain...

August 27, 2013 — Katherine Harmon

Will the Robot Uprising Be Squishy?

Octopuses offer an extreme engineering challenge: They are almost infinitely flexible, entirely soft-bodied and incredibly intelligent. Are we vertebrate humans ever going to be able to build anything as deformable and complex as a real octopus?...

July 26, 2013 — Katherine Harmon

3-D Printed Jets Mimic Octopus Propulsion

An octopus spends most of its time crawling around on the seafloor looking for dinner—and trying to avoid becoming it. But when it needs to make a quick move, it can switch into overdrive and jet away...

July 23, 2013 — Katherine Harmon

Octopuses Survive Sub-Zero Temps Thanks to Specialized Blue Blood

Octopuses' oddities run deep—right down to their blue-hued blood. And new research shows how genetic alterations in this odd-colored blood have helped the octopus colonize the world's wide oceans—from the deep, freezing Antarctic to the warm equatorial tropics.The iron-based protein (hemoglobin) that carries oxygen in the blood for us red-blooded vertebrates becomes ineffective when faced with low-oxygen levels...

July 13, 2013 — Katherine Harmon

8 Awesome Octopus Facts for World Oceans Day

Octopuses are amazing. In honor of World Oceans Day, here are eight facts about these incredible creatures.8. Octopuses are masters of camouflage. However, research suggests that octopuses don't try to blend into their entire environment—to look like coral, sand and seaweed all at once...

June 8, 2013 — Katherine Harmon

Unusual Offshore Octopods: Great Glowing Octopus! [Video]

What has eight arms, no bones and hundreds of bright, twinkly lights? The glowing sucker octopus ( Stauroteuthis syrtensis ), of course.This flashy octopod is one of the few of its kind to have true bioluminescence, a trait much more common in two other cephalopod relatives, squid and cuttlefish...

June 6, 2013 — Katherine Harmon

Unusual Offshore Octopods: Telescope Octopus Has Totally Tubular Eyes

Big eyes can be a big benefit—allowing an animal to see potential prey and predators coming from a wider field. For the octopus, this is especially important in the open ocean, where knowing what is around—or above or below—you is crucial for survival.One type of octopus has taken a different approach to wide-angle vision...

May 31, 2013 — Katherine Harmon

Unusual Offshore Octopods: The See-Through "Glass" Octopus [Video]

Octopuses that live in the deep open ocean are difficult enough to find. But try locating a "glass" octopus, which is nearly transparent. Floating in the dim midwaters, this gelatinous octopod looks almost like a be-suckered jellyfish.Rather than camouflaging like most known octopus species, the Vitreledonella richardi has taken this alternative approach to hide from potential predators—and perhaps from prey as well...

May 18, 2013 — Katherine Harmon

Unusual Offshore Octopods: More (Octopus) Suckers Born Every Minute in Cold Water

That octopuses can survive in the extreme, sunless environments around deep hydrothermal vents is surprising enough. But comparing octopuses that make their homes there has led to some even more interesting discoveries about animal development.The rarely seen Muusoctopus hydrothermalis live some 2,495 to 2,620 meters below the surface, along the East Pacific Rise...

May 12, 2013 — Katherine Harmon

Unusual Offshore Octopods: The `Dumbo' Octopus Swims with Fins [Video]

Down in the dark depths of the deep ocean live more than a dozen species of "Dumbo" octopuses.These octopods from the genus Grimpoteuthis are so named for their prominent, unusual earlike fins that they use to help them swim (reminiscent of the Disney elephant character who used his ears to fly)...

April 26, 2013 — Katherine Harmon
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