Fruit flies have enormous sperm. This is a well known fact in the scientific community—so well known, in fact, that there’s a name for it: the big sperm paradox. But the massive, spermy problem has long confounded scientists, who couldn’t figure out why such a tiny creature needed such humongous baby batter soldiers.…
Sea butterflies are snails that have inverted themselves. Instead of using their flesh (via a foot) to crawl on the sea floor, they turned upside down and make their protruding bodies into “wings.” When scientists studied this unusual motion, they found the sea butterflies move exactly like fruit flies and other small…
Since 1954, Kyoto University has been managing a population of fruit flies, living in total darkness. Now, after interbreeding some of these “dark flies” with regular flies, the researchers are learning more about the genetic adaptations taking place when fruit flies are kept entirely in the dark.
For countless decades scientists have relied on the lowly fruit fly, aka Drosophila melanogaster, because its simplicity makes it an ideal organism for studying genetics. But counting, sorting, and analyzing fruit flies is such a terribly tedious task that Stanford has actually taken the time to build a robot that can…
These oddly fascinating videos show a fruit fly's heart beating. While a fruit fly's heart doesn't look anything like our own, it might just tell us a little bit about why our hearts fail.
Can you distinguish a clever data visualization from an abstract expressionist painting?
If you look really closely next time a group of fruit flies invades your kitchen, you might notice that some flies fight more than others. Male fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster, are more aggressive than females, and the latest research from David Anderson's Caltech biology lab suggests that's because they have a…
It seems like fruit flies will target any fruit that's lying around in your kitchen. But when given the choice, these annoying pests actually prefer citrus like oranges, limes, and lemons. And there's a good reason for it, too.
Scientists have found that in worms and flies, the scent of pheromones from the opposite sex speeds up the aging process and shortens life — sometimes by as much as 40%! As Ed Yong points out in his latest column, there may be a trade-off between sex and longevity.
Do we have free will? If we don't, we're one step down the metaphysical ladder from fruit flies. Yes, people have determined that fruit flies have free will. And yes, the experimental fly chamber they created to find this out is really freaking weird.
Fruit flies are a great favorite of scientists — especially geneticists. And those geneticists really enjoy studying fruit fly mutants. They've shown their appreciation for these mutants with some seriously weird nicknames.
Drosophila melanogaster, or the fruitfly, is one of the most rigorously-studied bugs in history. Because they breed quickly, and have a relatively small but diverse genome, they are incredibly popular with geneticists. And these geneticists have carefully enumerated (and induced) all the crazy mutations you can…
Male fruit flies don't respond well to sexual rejection. Should their attempts at courtship fail, scientists have shown that spurned male flies will actually turn to booze as a substitute for sex. Understanding why, say researchers, could allow us humans to sort out some of our own dependency issues.
Wasps like to invade fruit flies and take over their bodies, like some insect version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Scientists have now discovered that fruit flies have developed a way to defend themselves: alcohol.
Fruit flies, the simple little things that buzz around the fruit you swore you'd eat and the jack-o-lantern you swore you'd throw out, can diagnose themselves with intestinal parasites — and drink alcohol until they're all better again.
Queen bees are much larger than worker bees, and live years longer, for one reason. They gorge on a sugary protein called "royal jelly." Now a scientist has made ultra-large flies using royal jelly too. Are humans next?
Scientists put fruit flies on meth, and observed the chemical results. What they found was a link between meth, sugar, and cancer cells.
Could it be a heat map representation of some strange metropolis? Maybe it's a new breakthrough in spectral analysis techniques? Or perhaps it's just a severely decomposed scanwich. Unfortunately, all of those guesses are wrong.
Fruit flies and other simple organisms might seem like they're creatures of instinct, governed by a set of basically predictable stimuli and responses. But fruit flies actually have free will. Depending on what your definition of free will is.