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Tuesday 21 September |
The Feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle

Today’s Fresh Haul: How Trees Defend Themselves! The Tortoise Playboy! The Hero who saved a school bus!

Ekkachai - Shutterstock

The Daily Catch - published on 09/15/16

The lines were taught as we struggled to pull our catch aboard, but it was all worth it. We’ve got some fresh stories straight off the net.

web-deer-eating-trees-raul654-cc
Raul654 - CC

Trees Can Sense When They Are Being Eaten By Deer And Launch A Defense – (iflscience.com)

Plants have been consumed by deer and other animals since the very beginning. We know that some of them have adapted to this by growing thorns or even containing poison to deter their herbivore foes. Now scientist have found another defensive mechanism which attacks their taste buds:

As a young tree stuck to the spot growing on the forest floor, the ravaging appetite of a hungry deer could spell disaster, and ultimately the end. But the saplings don’t go down without a fight, launching a chemical defense against the marauding herbivores by producing astringent tannins that taste bad and put the creatures off. But the plant needs to know whether or not damage to its buds is indeed caused by a munching deer, or more benignly caused by other things such as wind. It turns out that when a bud is damaged, the trees can sense the animal’s saliva in the wound. When it does, it triggers a response from the sapling, which produces a hormone known as salicylic acid, that in turn causes the plant to increase the concentration of tannins in that part of the plant. Not only that, but it also spurs the plant on to produce more growth hormones that cause the remaining buds to grow more vigorously, and make up for those that have been lost to the deer.
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Putneymark - CC

100-year-old tortoise saves his species thanks to high sex drive – (telegraph.co.uk)

Diego the tortoise has come into the spotlight as he may have single-handedly saved his species from extinction:

“He’s a very sexually active male reproduce, said Washington Tapia, a tortoise preservation specialist at Galapagos National Park. “He’s contributed enormously to repopulating the island. “We did a genetic study and we discovered that he was the father of nearly 40 percent of the offspring released into the wild on Espanola … I wouldn’t say (the species) is in perfect health, because historical records show there probably used to be more than 5,000 tortoises on the island. “But it’s a population that’s in pretty good shape – and growing, which is the most important,” Tapia told AFP.

School Bus Driver Lauded for Saving 20 Children From Inferno – (abcnews.go.com)

Renita Smith was going about her business, driving the children home after a long day at school when she smelled smoke and heard the children crying ‘Fire’ from the back. That’s when she went into “Mommy Mode”:

“I put the mic back down, undid my seatbelt, jumped up, got my babies and got off,” she told ABC News today. “Once we got off, neighbors kicked right into ‘Mommy mode,’ as I call it, and helped the kids get to a safe haven. When that was going on, I ran back onto the bus to make sure there was no children on the bus. … By the time I got to the last step on the bus, it just went up in smoke.” Authorities said the students were from the Glenarden Woods Elementary School. No one was injured, fire officials said. Most of the children were picked up at the scene of the blaze by their parents. The official cause of the fire was not known but authorities said the fire seemed to originate “near one of the rear wheels” and then spread to the rest of the bus.
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