RESEARCH: Plan Bee – Honey Bee research in Australia

Plan Bee is a national genetic improvement program for bees. It uses innovative breeding technologies to transform the performance of Honey Bees in Australia.

Dr. Nadine Chapman from the University of Sydney is Plan Bee’s lead researcher. The BEE molecular laboratory and bee house at the university actually stands for Behaviour, Ecology, and Evolution.

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Box Jellyfish

The Box Jellyfish (Chirodropus sp.) is a marine (saltwater) planktonic scyphozoan in the Chirodropidae family of venomous box jellyfish. It belongs to the Cubozoa class. It is a cnidarian. It is also known as the Sea Wasp.

The medusa form of the Box Jellyfish has a cube-shaped, or box-shaped, bell. From each of the four lower corners hangs short stalks called pedalium which have about 15 slender, hollow tentacles. The rim of the bell is folded inwards to form a shelf known as a velarium. The velarium creates jet propulsion, which makes it move through the water. 

In the centre of the box is a manubrium, which looks like an elephant’s trunk. This is where its mouth is located. Other jellyfish have ocelli, which are light sensing organs, instead of eyes. However, the Box Jellyfish has about 20 ocelli in addition to true eyes, set in a cluster, with retinas, corneas, and lenses. The eyes are located in pockets halfway up the outer, flat surface of the bell.

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Red and Black Anemonefish

The Red and Black Anemonefish (Amphiprion melanopus) is a tropical marine (saltwater) fish in the Pomacentridae family of clownfish and damselfish. It is also known as the Cinnamon Clownfish or Dusky Clownfish.

The Red and Black Anemonefish has an oval-shaped, flat, compressed body. It is dark-red to orange with orangish-mahonany-brown sides. The juvenile has a wide, white head band. Its dorsal (back) and caudal (tail) fins are lighter than the rest of its body, often with a cinnamon colour.

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Bowmouth Guitarfish

The Bowmouth Guitarfish (Rhina ancylostoma) is a large, rare fish in the Rhinidae family of rays. It is also called the Shark Ray, Mud Skate, or Shortnose Mud Skate. It was difficult for scientists to classify, but now it is classified as a ray.

The Bowmouth Guitarfish has a distinctive appearance, with its back half that looks like a shark and its front half that looks like a ray. It is sandy brown or bluish-grey with white spots. Its underbelly is light-grey or white. It has prominent black markings on its pectoral fins. It has a wide, thick body with a rounded, wide snout (nose) and large shark-like, sickle-shaped dorsal (back) and crescent-shaped tail fins. Its mouth forms a W-shaped undulating line. There are multiple thorny ridges on its head and back. 

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White-Spotted Jellyfish

The White-Spotted Jellyfish (Phyllorhiza punctata) is a marine (saltwater) planktonic scyphozoan in the Mastigiidae family of jellyfish. It is a cnidarian. It is also known as the Floating Bell, the Australian Spotted Jellyfish, or the Brown Jellyfish.

The White-Spotted Jellyfish has a deep-brown colour due to the algae living on the tissue. It has a bell-shaped dome with little spots. It does not have stinging tentacles. It does not have eyes. Instead, it has light-sensing organs called ocelli. It is composed of 95% of water, which enables it to float.

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Flat Badge Huntsman Spider

The Flat Badge Huntsman Spider (Neosparassus patellatus) is a large arachnid in the Sparassidae family of badge huntsman spiders. Sparassids are eight-eyed spiders.

The Flat Badge Huntsman Spider has a grey, thick, flat body with smooth furry hair. The female is lighter, often orange to pinkish brown. It has a distinctive shield, called a badge, with white spots on its underbelly. Its abdomen, called a carapace, is oval with a square front near its eyes. On its abdomen, it has a series of black dots. It has eight long legs. The first two pairs of legs are longer than the other legs.

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RESEARCH: Kangaroos can learn to ask humans for help

Research scientists have recently found that kangaroos in zoos and sanctuaries use body language to ask humans for help, much like horses and dogs do. The researchers think this suggests that wild animals can learn to engage in inter-species communication just by being around humans.

Previously, researchers thought that only domesticated animals had the ability to communicate with humans, said Alan McElligott at City University of Hong Kong.

Kangaroos in Australia have never been a domesticated animal. In Australia, there are about 50 million kangaroos that roam in groups, called mobs. But there are also thousands of kangaroos, and other marsupials such as wallabies and pademelons, that live in zoos, parks, and sanctuaries.

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Southern Brown Bandicoot

The Southern Brown Bandicoot (Isodon obesulus) is a marsupial (pouched) mammal in the Peramelemorphia family of short-nosed bandicoots. 

The Southern Brown Bandicoot has a rounded, stocky body with a short snout (nose) and short, rounded ears. It has short, coarse, brown to yellowish-brown fur with black flecks. Its underbelly and legs are creamy-white or yellowish-grey. It has a short, tapered tail that is brown above and white below. It has five pink toes on each foot, with short claws. 

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Bilby

The Bilby (Macrotis lagotis) is a marsupial (pouched) mammal in the Thylacomyidae family of pouched mice. It is also known as the Rabbit-Bandicoot or the Rabbit-Eared Bandicoot. It is related to the Bandicoot.

The Bilby has soft grey or blue-grey fur, with a white underbelly. It looks like a large mouse with a long, pointy nose, whiskers, long hairless rabbit-like ears, and a long tail. Its tail has a white tuft of hair at the tip. It has strong forelimbs (front legs) with large, pointed claws. 

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Barrier Reef Chromis

The Barrier Reef Chromis (Chromis nitida) is a marine (saltwater) fish in the Pomacentridae family of damselfish. It is also called the Yellowback Puller or the Shining Puller.

The Barrier Reef Chromis has a yellowish-brown back, a separating dark stripe, and silvery sides and underbelly. The dark stripe is diagonal, starting at the eye and ending at the tail. It has one dorsal (back) fin. 

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Tasmanian Devils are reintroduced into Australia’s mainland

Eleven Tasmanian Devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) from the island state of Tasmania have been reintroduced into the mainland of Australia for the first time in 3,000 years.

The Tasmanian Devil is a marsupial mammal, an animal with a pouch. It once roamed the mainland of Australia and is now listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The Tasmanian Devil lived on the the mainland of Australia for 40,000 years until it died out due to the European introduction of foxes and cats in the 19th century that preyed on many native marsupial mammal species.

The Tasmanian Devil continued to live on the Tasmanian island in southern Australia, but many died over the past 20 years, since 2000, due to the Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD), which is a cancer of the face. It is estimated that there are only 25,000 Tasmanian Devils left in Tasmania.

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Southern Masked Lapwing

The Southern Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles novaehollandiae) is a common birld in the Charadriidae family and Vanellinae sub-family of plovers, lapwings, and dotterels.

The Southern Masked Lapwing has a rounded body, brown on its upperside and white on its underbelly and neck. It has distinctive black markings on its shoulders and the sides of its chest. It has a black crown and nape, with a yellow face and small, black eyes. It has small yellow wattles (skin) hanging from its neck. It has reddish-brown legs.

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CREATURE FEATURE: Wonga Pigeon

The Wonga Pigeon (Leucosarcia melanoleuca) is a medium-sized bird in the Columbidae family of pigeons.

The Wonga Pigeon is plump with a short neck, broad wings, and a long tail. It is pale blue-grey with black feathers, and a creamy-white head. Its underbelly is white with dotted dark-grey spots, with a white V-shape on its chest. Its eys are dark red-brown with pink eye-rings. Its legs are red. 

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Port Lincoln Ringneck Parrot

The Port Lincoln Ringneck Parrot (Barnardius zonarius zonarius) is a medium-sized bird in the Psittaculidae family of broad-tailed parrots, related to the Rosellas. It is a sub-species of the Australian Ringneck Parrot.

The Port Lincoln Ringneck Parrot is mainly green. It has a yellow ring around the back of its neck. It has a dull-black head, back and rump. Its throat and chest are bluish-green. Its wings are brilliant green and its tail is blue and green. It has a beige beak and beige legs.

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