Oriental Hornets Powered by Solar Energy
Insects have more up their sleeves than just supercalculating hive minds: like solar power, for instance.
Despite our politically-correct sensibilities, we humans are, by default, quite prejudiced. Why else would we consider ourselves master of all living things when we've yet to understand them? Case in point: researchers in Israel and the UK recently discovered that hornets have long been harnessing solar power.
To be more specific, researchers have discovered that a particular species, the Oriental Hornet, uses the wide yellow stripe on its abdomen to harvest solar power. The yellow band is composed of a chemical called xanthopterin, which somehow helps the oversized honeybee convert the heat from solar radiation into heat energy.
This bodes well for the future development of solar cells. That, and it might convince our future robot overlords to use hornets as a power source instead of us. That's a win-win situation, if you ask me.
[photos courtesy of Dr. Elmar Billig]