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科学家: 为了土壤健康 请关注千足虫的性生活

kira86 于2019-06-26发布 l 已有人浏览
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这是一篇有深度、有颜色的科学研究报道。小小的千足虫,已负责废物清理4.6亿年了,它们通过吃腐烂的植物这种操作将养分送回土壤,让土壤更健康,对地球、对人类都有益。
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How Millipedes Avoid Interspecies Sexual Slips

千足虫如何避免与种间物种(错误的物种)发生性关系?

Most animals are pretty good at avoiding the embarrassing faux pas of having sex with the wrong species. But what if you're a millipede, under a cramped, dark, slippery rock? With a dozen or more species all scurrying about, looking for love?

大多数动物都很擅长避免与错误的物种发生性关系,因为这样尴尬而又失礼。但假如你是一条在狭窄、黑暗、光滑的岩石下与一打或更多的物种四处奔波、寻找爱情的千足虫呢?

Fortunately, the critters evolved a solution: elaborate male gonopods - literally "genital feet" - with all manner of branches, bumps, and bristles. And even with 12,000 species of millipedes, no two varieties of gonopods are exactly the same. So the little arthropods can immediately tell if they're consorting with the wrong species - convenient not only for the millipedes, but also for biologists.

幸运的是,这些物种进化出了一个解决方案:复杂的雄性生殖肢(导精趾)——字面意思是“外生殖器脚”,即有着各式各样的分支(脚)、隆起部分以及短而硬的毛发。即使12000种千足虫里,也没有哪两种的生殖肢(导精趾)是完全相同的。因此,一旦与错误的物种混在一起,这些小节肢动物都能够立即分辨出——这一点不仅对于千足虫很方便,对于生物学家而言也很方便。

So you just have to pick it up and look at it and you say, yup, that's the species, and you can identify it. That's millipede researcher Petra Sierwald, at the Field Museum in Chicago. The only problem is - no offense to any male millipedes - the gonopods are tiny."If you look at a millipede, it's not that big to begin with. So you can imagine their modified legs...are even smaller."

“所以你只需要拿起它,观察它,你便可以说,‘是的,要找的就是这一种,你可以认得出来’。”芝加哥菲尔德博物馆的千足虫研究人员佩特拉·西尔瓦尔德表示到。唯一的问题是——无意冒犯任何雄性千足虫,但它们的生殖肢(导精趾)真的非常小。“如果你观察着一只千足虫,它们(的生殖肢)其实一开始并没有这么大。所以你可以想象,它们原本的腿更小。”

Now, before we go any further, you might be wondering, "Who cares about millipedes, let alone their genitals?" And the answer is, not enough of us. Millipedes are believed to be the first land animals, lured out of the water by tasty dead vegetable matter on earth's primeval shores." They have been in the business of waste management for 460 million years. And that means they are eating rotting vegetation. That returns the nutrients to the soil. And the healthy soil is what we need to grow our food."

现在,在我们进一步讨论之前,你可能会想,“谁关心千足虫啊,更不用说它们的生殖器了?”答案是,我们再多的人关心它们也不为过。千足虫被认为是最早的陆地动物,在远古时代,它们被地球海岸上美味的腐烂植物物质从水中引诱出来。他们从事废物管理已经有4.6亿年了,这意味着它们正在吃腐烂的植物。它们的这种操作可以把养分送回土壤,健康的土壤是我们种植食物所必须的。

But today, there aren't enough millipede researchers to determine if their populations are stable and healthy. In fact, Sierwald says there are thousands of unknown millipede species out there, just tapping their many, many, many, many feet, waiting to be noticed. Which brings us back to gonopods. Recently, Sierwald and her colleagues decided to shine ultraviolet light onto the millipede collection at the Field Museum, because that's just exactly the sort of thing people who work in museums do.

但是如今,没有足够的千足虫研究人员来确定它们的种群是否稳定和健康。事实上,西瓦尔德表示,还有成千上万种未知的千足虫物种,它们拍打着自己数不清的脚等待着引起大家的注意。这让我们又回到了生殖肢这个话题上。最近,西瓦尔德和她的同事决定用紫外线来照射菲尔德博物馆的千足虫收藏品,因为这正是博物馆工作人员会做的事情。

We found...that their copulatory organs fluoresce.

“我们发现,千足虫的交媾器官会发出荧光”

And not just with one color, which would have been cool enough.

荧光不只有一种颜色,能发出一种颜色的荧光就够酷了。

Different parts of this copulatory organ will fluoresce in different colors: blue, greenish, bluish-greenish, and yellow. The finding is in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

这个交媾器官的不同部位会发出不同颜色的荧光:比如蓝色、绿色、绿中带蓝以及黄色。这一发现发表在《林奈学会动物学杂志》上。

As to why the male sex organs fluoresce, Seirwald says no one - perhaps not even the millipedes themselves - know for sure. But the color-coded private parts do make identifying millipedes much easier for scientists. Sierwald and her colleagues are now working to photograph different species.

至于为什么千足虫雄性的性器官会发出荧光?塞瓦尔德说表示,没有人——也许连千足虫自己都不知道确切的原因。但是,有着色彩编码的千足虫隐私部位,于科学家而言确实更容易识别千足虫。西瓦尔德和她的同事们现在正致力于拍摄不同的物种。

We need pictures of the male gonopods, and we need them on line, and we need them fast!

“我们需要雄性千足虫生殖肢的照片,我们需要照片可供在线查看,并且要尽快可以上线。”

So that scientists can help millipedes keep the soil healthful, for them and for us.

这样科学家就可以帮助千足虫保持土壤的健康,对它们和我们都有益。

小e英语Jewel翻译!

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