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Concept: Escape


Escaping from predators often demands that animals rapidly negotiate complex environments. The smallest animals attain relatively fast speeds with high frequency leg cycling, wing flapping or body undulations, but absolute speeds are slow compared to larger animals. Instead, small animals benefit from the advantages of enhanced maneuverability in part due to scaling. Here, we report a novel behavior in small, legged runners that may facilitate their escape by disappearance from predators. We video recorded cockroaches and geckos rapidly running up an incline toward a ledge, digitized their motion and created a simple model to generalize the behavior. Both species ran rapidly at 12-15 body lengths-per-second toward the ledge without braking, dove off the ledge, attached their feet by claws like a grappling hook, and used a pendulum-like motion that can exceed one meter-per-second to swing around to an inverted position under the ledge, out of sight. We discovered geckos in Southeast Asia can execute this escape behavior in the field. Quantification of these acrobatic behaviors provides biological inspiration toward the design of small, highly mobile search-and-rescue robots that can assist us during natural and human-made disasters. We report the first steps toward this new capability in a small, hexapedal robot.

Concepts: Southeast Asia, Ecology, English-language films, Behavior, Robot, American films, Escape, Escape character


Some prey animals can escape from the digestive systems of predators after being swallowed. To clarify the ecological factors that determine the success of such an escape, we investigated how the bombardier beetle Pheropsophus jessoensis escapes from two toad species, Bufo japonicus and Btorrenticola, under laboratory conditions. Pheropsophus jessoensis ejects a hot chemical spray from the tip of the abdomen when it is attacked. Although all toads swallowed the bombardier beetles, 43% of the toads vomited the beetles 12-107 min after swallowing them. All the vomited beetles were still alive and active. Our experiment showed that Pjessoensis ejected hot chemicals inside the toads, thereby forcing the toads to vomit. Large beetles escaped more frequently than small beetles, and small toads vomited the beetles more frequently than large toads. Our results demonstrate the importance of the prey-predator size relationship in the successful escape of prey from inside a predator.

Concepts: Predation, Ecology, Chemistry, Beetle, Ground beetle, Frog, Escape, Bombardier beetle


Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) is an abundant fishery resource, the harvest levels of which are expected to increase. However, many of the length classes of krill can escape through commonly used commercial trawl mesh sizes. A vital component of the overall management of a fishery is to estimate the total fishing mortality and quantify the mortality rate of individuals that escape from fishing gear. The methods for determining fishing mortality in krill are still poorly developed. We used a covered codend sampling technique followed by onboard observations made in holding tanks to monitor mortality rates of escaped krill. Haul duration, hydrological conditions, maximum fishing depth and catch composition all had no significant effect on mortality of krill escaping 16 mm mesh size nets, nor was any further mortality associated with the holding tank conditions. A non- parametric Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to model the relationship between mortality rates of escapees and time. There was a weak tendency, though not significant, for smaller individuals to suffer higher mortality than larger individuals. The mortality of krill escaping the trawl nets in our study was 4.4 ± 4.4%, suggesting that krill are fairly tolerant of the capture-and-escape process in trawls.

Concepts: Mortality rate, Antarctica, Fishing, Krill, Escape, Escape character, Antarctic krill, Euphausia


Hajdu-Cheney syndrome (HCS), a rare autosomal disorder caused by heterozygous mutations in NOTCH2, is clinically characterized by acro-osteolysis, severe osteoporosis, short stature, neurological symptoms, cardiovascular defects, and polycystic kidneys. Recent studies identified that aberrant NOTCH2 signaling and consequent osteoclast hyperactivity are closely associated with the bone-related disorder pathogenesis, but the exact molecular mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that sustained osteoclast activity is largely due to accumulation of NOTCH2 carrying a truncated C terminus that escapes FBW7-mediated ubiquitination and degradation. Mice with osteoclast-specific Fbw7 ablation revealed osteoporotic phenotypes reminiscent of HCS, due to elevated Notch2 signaling. Importantly, administration of Notch inhibitors in Fbw7 conditional knockout mice alleviated progressive bone resorption. These findings highlight the molecular basis of HCS pathogenesis and provide clinical insights into potential targeted therapeutic strategies for skeletal disorders associated with the aberrant FBW7/NOTCH2 pathway as observed in patients with HCS.

Concepts: Osteoporosis, Bone, Osteoclast, Neurology, Human height, Polycystic kidney disease, Clinical death, Escape


We study the impact of prior individual training during group emergency evacuation using mice that escape from an enclosed water pool to a dry platform via any of two possible exits. Experimenting with mice avoids serious ethical and legal issues that arise when dealing with unwitting human participants while minimizing concerns regarding the reliability of results obtained from simulated experiments using ‘actors’. First, mice were trained separately and their individual escape times measured over several trials. Mice learned quickly to swim towards an exit-they achieved their fastest escape times within the first four trials. The trained mice were then placed together in the pool and allowed to escape. No two mice were permitted in the pool beforehand and only one could pass through an exit opening at any given time. At first trial, groups of trained mice escaped seven and five times faster than their corresponding control groups of untrained mice at pool occupancy rate ρ of 11.9% and 4%, respectively. Faster evacuation happened because trained mice: (a) had better recognition of the available pool space and took shorter escape routes to an exit, (b) were less likely to form arches that blocked an exit opening, and © utilized the two exits efficiently without preference. Trained groups achieved continuous egress without an apparent leader-coordinator (self-organized queuing)-a collective behavior not experienced during individual training. Queuing was unobserved in untrained groups where mice were prone to wall seeking, aimless swimming and/or blind copying that produced circuitous escape routes, biased exit use and clogging. The experiments also reveal that faster and less costly group training at ρ = 4%, yielded an average individual escape time that is comparable with individualized training. However, group training in a more crowded pool (ρ = 11.9%) produced a longer average individual escape time.

Concepts: Time, Pool, Skill, Training, Escape, Emergency exit


Artificial propagation programs focused on production, such as commercial aquaculture or forestry, entail strong domestication selection. Spillover from such programs can cause unintended fitness and demographic consequences for wild conspecifics. The range of possible management practices to minimize such consequences vary in their control of genetic and demographic processes. Here, we use a model of coupled genetic and demographic dynamics to evaluate alternative management approaches to minimizing unintended consequences of aquaculture escapees. We find that, if strong natural selection occurs between escape and reproduction, an extremely maladapted (i.e., nonlocal-origin, highly domesticated) stock could have fitness consequences analogous to a weakly diverged cultured stock; otherwise, wild population fitness declines with increasing maladaptation in the cultured stock. Reducing escapees through low-level leakage is more effective than reducing an analogous number of escapees from large, rare pulses. This result arises because low-level leakage leads to the continual lowering of wild population fitness and subsequent increased proportional contribution of maladapted cultured escapees to the total population. Increased sterilization efficacy can cause rapid, nonlinear reductions in unintended fitness consequences. Finally, sensitivity to the stage of escape indicates a need for improved monitoring data on how the number of escapees varies across life cycle stages.

Concepts: Natural selection, Evolution, Biology, Demography, Genetic algorithm, Domestication, World population, Escape


The escaping behavior of termites has been documented under laboratory conditions; however, no study has been conducted in a field setting due to the difficulty of observing natural behaviors inside wood or structures (e.g., nests, tunnels, etc.). The black-winged termite,Odontotermes formosanus(Shiraki), is a subterranean macrotermitine species which builds extensive mud tubes on tree trunks. In the present study, 41 videos (totaling ∼2,700 min) were taken on 22 colonies/subcolonies ofO. formosanusafter their mud tubes were partially damaged by hand. In general, termites consistently demonstrated three phases of escape, including initiation (wandering near the mud-tube breach), individual escaping (single termites moving downward), and massive, unidirectional escaping flows (groups of termites moving downward). Downward moving and repairing were the dominant behavioral activities of individuals and were significantly more frequent than upward moving, turning/backward moving, or wandering. Interestingly, termites in escaping flows moved significantly faster than escaping individuals. Repairing behavior was observed shortly after the disturbance, and new mud tubes were preferentially constructed from the bottom up. When predators (i.e., ants) were present, however, termites stopped moving and quickly sealed the mud-tube openings by capping the broken ends. Our study provides an interesting example that documents an animal (besides humans) simultaneously carrying out pathway repairs and emergency evacuation without congestion.

Concepts: Time, Psychology, Behavior, Human behavior, Behaviorism, Social relation, Termite, Escape


In this feature article, the development of methods to enable a hierarchical multiscale approach to the microkinetic analysis of heterogeneous catalytic processes is reviewed. This methodology is an effective route to escape the trap of complication and complexity in multiscale microkinetic modelling. On the one hand, the complication of the problem is related to the fact that the observed catalyst functionality is inherently a multiscale property of the reacting system and its analysis requires bridging the phenomena at different time and length scales. On the other hand, the complexity of the problem derives from the system dimension of the chemical systems, which typically results in a number of elementary steps and species, that are beyond the limit of accessibility of present-day computational power even for the most efficient implementation of atomistic first-principles simulations. The main idea behind the hierarchical approach is to tackle the problem with methods of increasing accuracy in a dual feed-back loop between theory and experiments. The potential of the methodology is shown in the context of unravelling the WGS and r-WGS catalytic mechanisms on Rh catalysts. As a perspective, the extension to structure-dependent microkinetic modelling is discussed.

Concepts: Scientific method, Chemical reaction, Hydrogen, Catalysis, Ribozyme, Catalytic converter, Nitrogen, Escape


The collective egress of social insects is important in dangerous situations such as natural disasters or enemy attacks. Some studies have described the phenomenon of symmetry breaking in ants, with two exits induced by a repellent. However, whether symmetry breaking occurs under high temperature conditions, which are a common abiotic stress, remains unknown. In our study, we deposited a group of Polyrhachis dives ants on a heated platform and counted the number of escaping ants with two identical exits. We discovered that ants asymmetrically escaped through two exits when the temperature of the heated platform was >32.75°C. The degree of asymmetry increased linearly with the temperature of the platform. Furthermore, the higher the temperature of heated platform was, the more ants escaped from the heated platform. However, the number of escaping ants decreased for 3 min when the temperature was higher than the critical thermal limit (39.46°C), which is the threshold for ants to endure high temperature without a loss of performance. Moreover, the ants tended to form small groups to escape from the thermal stress. A preparatory formation of ant grouping was observed before they reached the exit, indicating that the ants actively clustered rather than accidentally gathered at the exits to escape. We suggest that a combination of individual and grouping ants may help to optimize the likelihood of survival during evacuation.

Concepts: Insect, Symmetry, Ant, Hymenoptera, Eusociality, Escape, Escape character, E. O. Wilson


This research examined human defensive reactivity when exposure to an aversive event could be escaped but not entirely avoided. Prolonged visual cues indicated whether exposure to an upcoming aversive (i.e., disgusting) picture could be terminated after onset (escaped) or not, or that a neutral go signal would appear. Acoustically elicited startle reflexes were measured during each cue interval, as were cardiac and skin conductance activity. Early in the cuing interval, startle reflexes were potentiated during both escape and inescapable exposure trials, compared to the simple motor context. Later in the interval, reflexes remained potentiated for both escapable and inescapable trials, with potentiation further enhanced when aversive exposure could not be escaped compared to when exposure could be escaped. Heart rate deceleration in the cuing interval indicated increased vigilance when preparing any (escape or neutral) action, whereas skin conductance responding indicated enhanced sympathetic action mobilization particularly in an escape context. These data suggest that startle reflexes engaged in an escape context reflect both motor-related response inhibition and aversive potentiation, and they indicate that defensive motivation is engaged whenever aversive exposure is guaranteed, regardless of whether it can be escaped or not.

Concepts: Escape, Escape character