Beware the Death Cap mushroom!

Be very careful when you forage for mushrooms; there’s one particular menace this autumn: the death cap mushroom.It is Britain’s deadliest mushroom and it’s been reported in unusually large numbers in the run of mild, damp weather. It’s been estimated that as little as half a death cap mushroom is enough to kill an adult and, worldwide, this species has caused more deaths than any other mushroom. Worse still, death caps have been reported to taste quite pleasant, and symptoms of poisoning may not appear for up to 24 hours after they have been eaten. It’s easy to mistake the death cap for some edible mushrooms. They can be distinguished by a pale green cap, a bulbous ring at the bottom of the stalk and a ring-like collar. Make sure you can tell the difference!

Mars lander failure

The European Space agency has released new images of its doomed Mars lander, which is thought to have disintegrated after hitting the planet’s surface at high speed – rather than touching down gently as planned.

The images show that the craft touched down well within its target landing zone, but that something went catastrophically wrong during the descent. It is thought that the thrusters that slow the craft down only fired for 3-4 seconds rather than the 30 they were required to.

Clever spiders in your garden!

They are creepy, crawly and, for some, a source of irrational fear. Now scientists at Oxford University have found that spiders can hear you from across a room and when you are near them on their garden webs.

The discovery came as a surprise because, technically, spiders do not have ears. However, the latest research shows that the hairs on spiders’ legs are so sensitive that they can detect human speech from several metres away.

They can also control the tension and stiffness of their webs to optimise their sensory powers, helping them locate and identify prey as well as partners.