Information

Can someone identify this creature?


I discovered a few of these while cleaning an outdoor fish pond north of Sacramemto California. What is this?


This is a Burrowing Mayfly nymph (order Ephemeroptera), more than likely of the family Ephemeridae. The Bugguide site has very few photos of nymphs, but you'll find a near miss here (the species shown is not Californian, but the related Ephemera simulans Walker, 1853 is; see here for other possibilities [you'll want to look for nymph photos of the species listed from "USA: SW"]).


Bioinformatics — What? Why? How?

B ioinformatics has become a buzzword in today’s world of Science. About one or two decades ago, people saw biology and computer science as two entirely different fields. One would learn about living beings and their functions whereas the other would learn about computers and underlying theories. However, at present, there seems to be a mere separation between the two fields and this new field, bioinformatics, has emerged as a combination of both Computer Science and Biology.


Absurd Creature of the Week: If This Wasp Stings You, 'Just Lie Down and Start Screaming'

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Tarantula hawk Mitsuru Sakurai/Getty Images

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Justin Schmidt is an entomologist, and has accordingly been stung by a lot of bugs. So he invented something called the Schmidt sting pain index (named after some guy called Schmidt, apparently), which ranks the pain of insect stings from one to four. Down at one is something like the fire ant, which is so named for a reason, while up at four is the bullet ant, which is so called for a very, very good reason.

Joining the bullet ant at four is a critter that lives right here in the southwestern US: the tarantula hawk. It’s actually a kind of solitary wasp with a sting whose resulting pain only lasts three minutes, but it’s so fiercely electric that it could only be described as totally unacceptable. "There are some vivid descriptions of people getting stung by these things,” says invertebrate biologist Ben Hutchins of Texas Parks and Wildlife, “and their recommendation—and this was actually in a peer-reviewed journal—was to just lie down and start screaming, because few if any people could maintain verbal and physical coordination after getting stung by one of these things. You're likely to just run off and hurt yourself. So just lie down and start yelling."

That paper, as it happens, was written by our friend Schmidt, and is probably the most unintentionally hilarious scientific paper I’ve ever read. He recounts one enterprising scientist who netted 10 tarantula hawks—and of course reached in to grab them: “Undeterred after the first sting, he continued, receiving several more stings, until the pain was so great he lost all of them and crawled into a ditch and just bawled his eyes out.”

Which is why folks in Texas have seemed a bit. worried over the past few weeks, as numbers of the things are on the rise. In reality, though, there’s nothing to be worried about here (trust me). The tarantula hawk is in fact a brilliant parasite that attacks tarantulas, not humans, paralyzing them with a sting before dragging them into a den. Here it lays an egg that hatches into a larva and devours the paralyzed spider alive—over the course of several weeks.

So take heart, dear Texans. You’d have to try real hard to get stung by these things, like picking them up or stepping on them. Quite frankly, they don’t seem to pay people no mind, even if approached, probably because they know they could kick human asses all over the place. “The tarantula hawks are really bold in terms of wasps,” says Hutchins. “Researchers think that's because they have very few natural predators. They have such an effective deterrent mechanism, and that's their really painful sting.” Indeed, there are almost no reports of any animal dumb enough going after these things.

Accordingly, there’s not much to stop them when their numbers start climbing, like they are right now in Texas. Thanks to a strong rainy season, vegetation is doing quite well, and when vegetation does quite well, so do insects. The tarantula hawk is actually a nectar-feeder, not a carnivore, so it’s in fat city these days.

But not all of these wasps sting: The males can’t do it at all. This is because stingers in the insect world belong to the females (the structures evolved from ovipositors, which the females use to lay eggs). So in lovely conditions such as these, males will hang out on flowers and wait for the females to come around and mate. The female then flies off—and this is where the real fun begins.

Except for the tarantulas. They’re not going to like this one bit.

Unlike a lot of insects, the fertilized female won’t just be depositing her eggs somewhere and flying off, hoping they’ll survive on their own. Nope, she finds an unwitting caretaker first: specifically, any number of tarantulas that are also good and active during these times of plenty.

The she-wasp has to be careful, because while she's pretty darn big, the tarantula can be several times bigger than her. And although tarantulas may be harmless to humans, they have massive fangs that could do a number on the wasp. “The tarantula hawk will kind of approach the tarantula,” says Hutchins, “back away, approach, and then go in and actually get in underneath the tarantula and then flip it over, and then sting it. She's usually looking for a chink in the tarantula's armor, and that's often at the joints in the legs.”

And she’s really good at it. One survey found that in 400 battles, only a single wasp perished. But that isn’t to say the tarantulas weren’t putting up a good fight. In his sneakily comic scientific paper, Schmidt notes that researchers have reported “violent encounters, often hearing loud crunching or snapping sounds as the spider has the wasp in its jaws, and with spiders frequently losing legs during the encounters.” It seems that the tarantula hawks’ hard, smooth exoskeletons may crunch a bit, but they still save their owners from death.

As for the tarantulas, well, they almost never escape. The sting paralyzes the spider nearly instantly, allowing the wasp to drag it into a pre-dug burrow or back to the tarantula’s own den. Here it drops the victim and lays a single egg on it, then leaves and seals the chamber behind it. The egg hatches into a larva, which starts eating the still-paralyzed spider, focusing on non-essential tissues to keep it alive for as long as possible—perhaps weeks.

That there is one hell of a head start in life for the kiddo. It’s a striking contrast to the lives of social wasps, which collectively care for their young without encouraging them to devour paralyzed tarantulas. And indeed, this manifests in the wasps’ venom itself. Typically, the venom of social wasps tends to be both painful and damaging to tissue, whereas the tarantula hawk’s is all agony and no damage. This is likely because social wasps have a queen and young to protect from their enemies, so simply inflicting pain may not do the trick—the target may be down, but not out. In contrast, the tarantula hawk is a lone wolf, looking out only for itself. All it has to do is stun its attacker and make a getaway.

Sure, every so often it’s an unfortunate human on the receiving end of that stinger, but the tarantula hawk is far more placid than it may let on. “Even though they do have a really painful sting, in my opinion they're just a really cool component of our fauna,” says Hutchins. “People don't really need to be afraid of them, and indeed I think they're really cool to just sit and watch them in your yard.”

But should you get stung, just remember to stop, drop, and scream like no one’s listening.


Can someone identify this creature? - Biology

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JAKE MURRAY FOR SCHOLASTIC INC

CCSS: Literacy in Science: 8

TEKS: 6.12A, 7.14A, 8.2E, B.2H, B.6A, B.6H

Can cutting-edge science uncover the true identity of a mysterious beast?

AS YOU READ, THINK ABOUT the type of evidence scientists could collect to help verify the existence of the Loch Ness Monster.

A few years ago, an American tourist peered out over a murky lake in Scotland and spotted something unusual in the water. He later described it as large, dark, and about the length of a school bus. But before he could snap a photo, the odd object disappeared beneath the surface.

The lake the man was visiting was Loch Ness, one of the largest in the United Kingdom. And he wasn’t the first person to spy something mysterious there. For centuries, people have reported seeing strange moving shapes in the lake’s cloudy waters. Many believe they’ve glimpsed an elusive creature known as the Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie for short.

There are plenty of theories about Nessie. Some people believe it’s a plesiosaur, an extinct prehistoric marine reptile that had a long neck. Others speculate that it’s an enormous fish. Or it could simply be a log. Although thousands of people have claimed to see Nessie, no one has been able to prove for certain that a large beast really lurks in the lake.

If there were any scientific evidence to support Nessie’s existence, Neil Gemmell thought he might know how to find it. Gemmell is a biologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand. In 2018, he rounded up an international team of scientists to travel to Scotland. “We set out to answer a simple question: What living things are in Loch Ness?” says Gemmell. “To answer the question, we planned to use a brand-new technology.”

A few years ago, an American visitor looked out over a murky lake in Scotland. He spotted something unusual in the water. Later, he said it was large, dark, and about the length of a school bus. But he didn’t have time to snap a photo. The odd object quickly disappeared beneath the surface.

The man was visiting Loch Ness. That’s one of the largest lakes in the United Kingdom. And he wasn’t the first person to see something unusual there. For centuries, people have claimed to see strange moving shapes in the lake’s cloudy waters. Many believe they’ve spotted a mysterious creature. It’s known as the Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie for short.

People have plenty of theories about Nessie. Some believe it’s a plesiosaur. This extinct prehistoric marine reptile had a long neck. Others think it’s a giant fish. Or it could just be a log. Thousands of people have claimed to have seen Nessie. But no one has been able to definitely prove that a large beast really lives in the lake.

Is there any scientific evidence that Nessie exists? If so, Neil Gemmell thought he might know how to find it. Gemmell is a biologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand. In 2018, he gathered an international team of scientists. They traveled to Scotland. “We set out to answer a simple question: What living things are in Loch Ness?” says Gemmell. “To answer the question, we planned to use a brand-new technology.”


Endangered Species List

Legislation was passed to protect the most endangered species in the United States. These special species cannot be destroyed nor can their habitat be eliminated. They are marked in the endangered species list by an *. Several federal and state agencies are beginning to manage threatened and endangered species on public lands. Recognition of private landowners who have voluntarily agreed to protect rare plants and animals is underway. All these efforts need to continue and be expanded to keep our natural heritage alive.​


7 Finfolk


In Scotland and Ireland, stories of the finfolk were a big part of local folklore. During the winter, the finfolk lived in a city at the bottom of the ocean called Finfolkaheem. In the summer, they lived on an island called Hildaland, which could appear and disappear at will, making it impossible for humans to find.

It was believed that the finfolk could take on the form of a beautiful men and women in order to lure humans into the water. They were shape-shifters who could transform from full fish to full human or somewhere in between, like a mermaid. It was believed that the finfolk wanted to have sex with humans because it was like their elixir for a long life. Whenever a boat never returned home from a voyage or someone drowned, it was always blamed on the finfolk. After the rise of Christianity, priests began to claim that so long as a village practiced the Bible and spoke the world of God, finfolk could not step on dry land. [4]


What's the difference between sex and gender?

So, sex is a term that is used to refer to the biological characteristics of an individual, Olezeski says. That means a person&aposs chromosomes, hormone prevalence, and external and internal anatomy are all indications of a person&aposs sex.

Gender, on the other hand is “one&aposs internal sense of their own identity,” Olezeski says. The American Psychological Association (APA) adds that the term “refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for boys and men or girls and women,” they write on their website. “These influence the ways that people act, interact, and feel about themselves.”

It&aposs equally important here to note that gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same either, per the APA. Sexual orientation refers to someone’s attraction to another person, while gender identity encompasses “one’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else.” Therefore, transgender people can identify as a variety of sexual orientations, including straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or asexual, similar to how non-transgender people identify.


Can someone identify this creature? - Biology

I've been thinking a lot about communication lately. Perhaps it's because whenever I'm called to "solve" a business problem, it all really boils down to communication. These types of problems usually involve a person, or a group of people, who are working really hard to do a good job, but aren't feeling the love from the powers that be, whether that's a boss, another department, or their target audience. 9 times out of 10, it's not because their ideas are bad, it's because they don't know how to communicate them effectively.

If someone isn't receiving your information well or not giving you the feedback you require - perhaps you need to change the way you communicate with them.

Let's go back to school for a minute.

Any good teacher will tell you that each student takes in information differently. There are:

1. Visual Learners: those that need to see pictures and graphs to visualize.

2. Auditory Learners: those who need to hear the information.

3. Kinesthetic Learners: those who need to engage in an activity in order to grasp a concept.

These characteristics do not leave us when we graduate from school they are present in every professional you work with.

So, let's examine some ways we can understand the different ways our co-workers learn, so that we can work with them better.

Visual Learners

Approximately 65 percent of the population are visual learners, so it's likely you'll have several in your group. Visual learners are often called spatial learners and, unsurprisingly, learn and remember best through visual communication. This means that using a whiteboard, projecting maps and images, or showing photos of your ideas work best.

Visual learners have a great spacial sense, which makes them good with map reading and blessed with a strong sense of direction. They can easily visualize objects, so putting together a living room table from Ikea is simple for them when presented with a diagram of how the parts fit.

You can spot a visual learner easily as the one who thrives off of meeting room learning with a whiteboard. They may also be doodling on paper or scribbling notes. Visual learners tend to have good dress sense as well, and sometimes just looking at a color-coordinated colleague can give you a few clues into their learning style. Visual learners are often especially creative and get involved in design, photography, architecture, or professions that demand a good sense of orientation and planning.

How do you communicate best with a visual learner? By using visual aids. Don't hand them a 10,000-word whitepaper or lengthy instruction manual. Don't speak at the speed of light and expect them to follow your idea. Instead, use maps, images, pictures, diagrams and mind maps using colors and pictures in place of text, where possible. And remember, a visual learner isn't trying to disobey your orders or blow off your ideas. They may just be having a hard time getting the message to sink in if they fail to respond to words alone.

Auditory Learners

Around 30 percent of the population is made up of auditory learners, who learn best through hearing. While many of their classmates and coworkers struggle to get through a lengthy lecture, an auditory learner will soak up the information they hear and remember up to 75 percent of it. Be careful if you find yourself in a relationship with a person who learns through hearing, as they'll remember every last detail of your conversation in an argument!

The best way to stimulate learning and communication in an auditory learner is through discussion, group chat and in the lecture hall. Oral presentations and exams help this style of learner, or dication and reciting aloud what they have read or heard. Seeing as auditory learners won't be able to learn through visual means, they must repeat what they see. Remember that table from Ikea? You'd better give it to them with a full set of instructions, or better yet read them aloud, as presenting them with a diagram won't work as well.

How do you communicate to an auditory learner? Well, simply, by speaking to them. But, if you're in a meeting or conference-type situation, try to vary your tone and pitch to keep your speech fluid and interesting. Also, you may want to emphasize key phrases and write them down if the pronunciation isn't obvious, to ensure they get the right takeaway.

You can spot an auditory learner easily. They'll be the one in your meeting asking a lot of questions! Auditory learners tend to like to discuss what they hear right away. Songs and audio recordings are a great way for them to learn, as is keeping presentations fairly short, since they can be easily distracted by outside noise. Auditory learners will likely be the ones giving you the most encouragement, often verbally expressing their interest and enthusiasm, and surprising you by following out directives without being reminded.

Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic learners are a complex bunch and make up just 5 percent of the population. They'll be the ones shuffling and fidgeting during your presentation, or antsy in lengthy meeting. People who have a kinesthetic learning style often struggle learning through traditional means and sedentary activities, like lectures and conferences. Their minds simply can't make the connection that they're doing something when listening or observing. They need to get up and get involved in the action for it to sink into their memory.

Beyond the fact that they find it hard to sit still, kinesthetic learners are often high energy folks who are engaged in sports, or those chirpy people around the watercooler in the morning. They're quick to react, so if you get into an emergency, it's good to have a kinesthetic learner around, with sharp reflexes and a penchant for getting involved. Kinesthetic learners love to experiment, so give them hands-on tasks and stimulate their learning that way.

What's the worst way to communicate with a kinesthetic learner? Make them sit through a lengthy presentation. Even if you use visual aids, they'll find it hard to stay engaged. If you want to work well with with the kinesthetic learners in your company, give them a challenge where they can get their hands dirty. If you know you've got a kinesthetic learner who needs to sit through a conference, try to allow for regular intervals. Give them tasks to carry out with teammates, like role playing and group work.

Understanding the different types of learners and making concessions for their learning styles will improve your communication and help prevent frustration or misunderstanding. You may think that a visual learner isn't interested in what you're saying, or that a kinesthetic learner is being rude or disruptive, by not being able to focus. Adjust the way you deliver your speech, structure your employees' workloads differently, or bond in an active group exercise and you'll soon see improved results.


Special Abilities

The following special abilities include rules commonly used by a number of creatures, spells, and traps.

Extraordinary Abilities (Ex)

Extraordinary abilities are non-magical. They are, however, not something that just anyone can do or even learn to do without extensive training. Effects or areas that suppress or negate magic have no effect on extraordinary abilities.

Spell-Like Abilities (Sp)

Spell-like abilities, as the name implies, are magical abilities that are very much like spells. Spell-like abilities are subject to spell resistance and dispel magic. They do not function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated (such as an antimagic field). Spell-like abilities can be dispelled but they cannot be counterspelled or used to counterspell.

Supernatural Abilities (Su)

Supernatural abilities are magical but not spell-like. Supernatural abilities are not subject to spell resistance and do not function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated (such as an antimagic field). A supernatural ability’s effect cannot be dispelled and is not subject to counterspells. See Table: Special Ability Types for a summary of the types of special abilities.

Table: Special Ability Types
Effect Extraordinary
Ability
Spell-Like
Ability
Supernatural
Ability
Can dispel magic and similar spells dispel the effects of abilities of that type? No Yes No
Does spell resistance protect a creature from these abilities? No Yes No
Does an antimagic field or similar magic suppress the ability? No Yes Yes
Does using the ability provoke attacks of opportunity the way that casting a spell does? No Yes No

Blindsight

Some creatures possess blindsight, the extraordinary ability to use a non-visual sense (or a combination senses) to operate effectively without vision. Such senses may include sensitivity to vibrations, acute scent, keen hearing, or echolocation. This makes invisibility and concealment (even magical darkness) irrelevant to the creature (though it still can’t see ethereal creatures). This ability operates out to a range specified in the creature description.

  • Blindsight never allows a creature to distinguish color or visual contrast. A creature cannot read with blindsight.
  • Blindsight does not subject a creature to gaze attacks (even though darkvision does).
  • Blinding attacks do not penalize creatures that use blindsight.
  • Deafening attacks thwart blindsight if it relies on hearing.
  • Blindsight works underwater but not in a vacuum.
  • Blindsight negates displacement and blur effects.

Blindsense

Blindsense lets a creature notice things it cannot see, but without the precision of blindsight. The creature with blindsense usually does not need to make Perception checks to notice and locate creatures within range of its blindsense ability, provided that it has line of effect to that creature. Any opponent that cannot be seen has total concealment (50% miss chance) against a creature with blindsense, and the blindsensing creature still has the normal miss chance when attacking foes that have concealment. Visibility still affects the movement of a creature with blindsense. A creature with blindsense is still denied its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class against attacks from creatures it cannot see.

Channel Resistance

Creatures with channel resistance gain a bonus on Will saves made against channeled energy. They add their bonus to any Will saves made to halve the damage and resist the effect.

Charm and Compulsion

Many abilities and spells can cloud the minds of characters and monsters, leaving them unable to tell friend from foe—or worse yet, deceiving them into thinking that their former friends are now their worst enemies. Two general types of enchantments affect characters and creatures: charms and compulsions.

Charming another creature gives the charming character the ability to befriend and suggest courses of action to his minion, but the servitude is not absolute or mindless. Charms of this type include the various charm spells and some monster abilities. Essentially, a charmed character retains free will but makes choices according to a skewed view of the world.

  • A charmed creature doesn’t gain any magical ability to understand his new friend’s language.
  • A charmed character retains his original alignment and allegiances, generally with the exception that he now regards the charming creature as a dear friend and will give great weight to his suggestions and directions.
  • A charmed character fights his former allies only if they threaten his new friend, and even then he uses the least lethal means at his disposal as long as these tactics show any possibility of success (just as he would in a fight with an actual friend).
  • A charmed character is entitled to an opposed Charisma check against his master in order to resist instructions or commands that would make him do something he wouldn’t normally do even for a close friend. If he succeeds, he decides not to go along with that order but remains charmed.
  • A charmed character never obeys a command that is obviously suicidal or grievously harmful to him.
  • If the charming creature commands his minion to do something that the influenced character would be violently opposed to, the subject may attempt a new saving throw to break free of the influence altogether.
  • A charmed character who is openly attacked by the creature who charmed him or by that creature’s apparent allies is automatically freed of the spell or effect.

Compulsion is a different matter altogether. A compulsion overrides the subject’s free will in some way or simply changes the way the subject’s mind works. A charm makes the subject a friend of the caster a compulsion makes the subject obey the caster.

Regardless of whether a character is charmed or compelled, he does not volunteer information or tactics that his master doesn’t ask for.

Damage Reduction

How does DR (damage reduction) interact with magical effects that deal bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage?

Although the definition of damage reduction says “The creature takes normal damage from energy attacks (even non-magical ones), spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities,” that’s actually just referring to damage that isn’t specifically called out as being of a particular type, such as fire damage or piercing damage. In other words, DR doesn’t protect against “typeless damage” from magical attacks.

However, if a magical attack specifically mentions that it deals bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, DR affects that damage normally, as if it were from a physical weapon. (Otherwise the magical attack might as well not have a damage type, as it would only interface with B/P/S damage in a very few corner cases, such as whether or not an ooze splits from that attack.)

For example, the ice storm spell deals 3d6 points of bludgeoning damage and 2d6 points of cold damage. If you cast ice storm at a group of zombies, the zombie’s DR 5/slashing protects them against 5 points of the spell’s bludgeoning damage. Their DR doesn’t help them against the spell’s cold damage because DR doesn’t apply to energy attacks.

Some magic creatures have the supernatural ability to instantly heal damage from weapons or ignore blows altogether as though they were invulnerable.

The numerical part of a creature’s damage reduction (or DR) is the amount of damage the creature ignores from normal attacks. Usually, a certain type of weapon can overcome this reduction (see Overcoming DR). This information is separated from the damage reduction number by a slash. For example, DR 5/magic means that a creature takes 5 less points of damage from all weapons that are not magic. If a dash follows the slash, then the damage reduction is effective against any attack that does not ignore damage reduction.

Whenever damage reduction completely negates the damage from an attack, it also negates most special effects that accompany the attack, such as injury poison, a monk’s stunning, and injury-based disease. Damage Reduction does not negate touch attacks, energy damage dealt along with an attack, or energy drains. Nor does it affect poisons or diseases delivered by inhalation, ingestion, or contact.

Attacks that deal no damage because of the target’s damage reduction do not disrupt spells.

Spells, spell-like abilities, and energy attacks (even non-magical fire) ignore damage reduction.

Sometimes damage reduction represents instant healing. Sometimes it represents the creature’s tough hide or body. In either case, other characters can see that conventional attacks won’t work.

If a creature has damage reduction from more than one source, the two forms of damage reduction do not stack. Instead, the creature gets the benefit of the best damage reduction in a given situation.

Overcoming DR

* Note that this does not give the ability to ignore hardness, like an actual adamantine weapon does.

Damage Reduction may be overcome by special materials, magic weapons (any weapon with a +1 or higher enhancement bonus, not counting the enhancement from masterwork quality), certain types of weapons (such as slashing or bludgeoning), and weapons imbued with an alignment.

Ammunition fired from a projectile weapon with an enhancement bonus of +1 or higher is treated as a magic weapon for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. Similarly, ammunition fired from a projectile weapon with an alignment gains the alignment of that projectile weapon (in addition to any alignment it may already have).

Weapons with an enhancement bonus of +3 or greater can ignore some types of damage reduction, regardless of their actual material or alignment. The following table shows what type of enhancement bonus is needed to overcome some common types of damage reduction.

Darkvision

Darkvision is the extraordinary ability to see with no light source at all, out to a range specified for the creature. Darkvision is black-and-white only (colors cannot be discerned). It does not allow characters to see anything that they could not see otherwise—invisible objects are still invisible, and illusions are still visible as what they seem to be. Likewise, darkvision subjects a creature to gaze attacks normally. The presence of light does not spoil darkvision.

Death Attacks

In most cases, a death attack allows the victim a Fortitude save to avoid the effect, but if the save fails, the character dies instantly.

    doesn’t work on someone killed by a death attack or effect.
  • Death attacks slay instantly. A victim cannot be made stable and thereby kept alive.
  • In case it matters, a dead character, no matter how he died, has hit points equal to or less than his negative Constitution score.
  • The spell death ward protects against these attacks.

Energy Drain and Negative Levels

Some spells and a number of undead creatures have the ability to drain away life and energy this dreadful attack results in “negative levels.” These cause a character to take a number of penalties.

For each negative level a creature has, it takes a cumulative –1 penalty on all ability checks, attack rolls, combat maneuver checks, Combat Maneuver Defense, saving throws, and skill checks. In addition, the creature reduces its current and total hit points by 5 for each negative level it possesses. The creature is also treated as one level lower for the purpose of level-dependent variables (such as spellcasting) for each negative level possessed. Spellcasters do not lose any prepared spells or slots as a result of negative levels. If a creature’s negative levels equal or exceed its total Hit Dice, it dies.

A creature with temporary negative levels receives a new saving throw to remove the negative level each day. The DC of this save is the same as the effect that caused the negative levels.

Some abilities and spells (such as raise dead) bestow permanent level drain on a creature. These are treated just like temporary negative levels, but they do not allow a new save each day to remove them. Level drain can be removed through spells like restoration. Permanent negative levels remain after a dead creature is restored to life. A creature whose permanent negative levels equal its Hit Dice cannot be brought back to life through spells like raise dead and resurrection without also receiving a restoration spell, cast the round after it is restored to life.

Energy Immunity and Vulnerability

A creature with energy immunity never takes damage from that energy type. Vulnerability means the creature takes half again as much (+50%) damage as normal from that energy type, regardless of whether a saving throw is allowed or if the save is a success or failure.

Energy Resistance

A creature with resistance to energy has the ability (usually extraordinary) to ignore some damage of a certain type per attack, but it does not have total immunity.

Each resistance ability is defined by what energy type it resists and how many points of damage are resisted. It doesn’t matter whether the damage has a mundane or magical source.

When resistance completely negates the damage from an energy attack, the attack does not disrupt a spell. This resistance does not stack with the resistance that a spell might provide.

Ethereal

An ethereal creature is invisible, insubstantial, and capable of moving in any direction, even up or down, albeit at half normal speed. An ethereal creature can move through solid objects, including living creatures. An ethereal creature can see and hear on the Material Plane, but everything looks gray and ephemeral. Sight and hearing onto the Material Plane are limited to 60 feet.

Force effects and abjurations affect an ethereal creature normally. Their effects extend onto the Ethereal Plane from the Material Plane, but not vice versa. An ethereal creature can’t attack material creatures, and spells you cast while ethereal affect only other ethereal things. Certain material creatures or objects have attacks or effects that work on the Ethereal Plane.

An ethereal creature treats other ethereal creatures and ethereal objects as if they were material.

Fear (Su or Sp)

Spells, magic items, and certain monsters can affect characters with fear. In most cases, the character makes a Will saving throw to resist this effect, and a failed roll means that the character is shaken, frightened, or panicked.

Shaken: Characters who are shaken take a –2 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks.

Frightened: Characters who are frightened are shaken, and in addition they flee from the source of their fear as quickly as they can. They can choose the paths of their flight. Other than that stipulation, once they are out of sight (or hearing) of the source of their fear, they can act as they want. If the duration of their fear continues, however, characters can be forced to flee if the source of their fear presents itself again. Characters unable to flee can fight (though they are still shaken).

Panicked: Characters who are panicked are shaken, and they run away from the source of their fear as quickly as they can, dropping whatever they are holding. Other than running away from the source, their paths are random. They flee from all other dangers that confront them rather than facing those dangers. Once they are out of sight (or hearing) of any source of danger, they can act as they want. Panicked characters cower if they are prevented from fleeing.

Becoming Even More Fearful: Fear effects are cumulative. A shaken character who is made shaken again becomes frightened, and a shaken character who is made frightened becomes panicked instead. A frightened character who is made shaken or frightened becomes panicked instead.

Fear attacks can have various effects.

Fear Aura (Su) The use of this ability is a free action. The aura can freeze an opponent (as in the case of a mummy’s despair) or function like the fear spell. Other effects are possible. A fear aura is an area effect. The descriptive text gives the size and kind of the area.

Fear Cone (Sp) and Ray (Su) These effects usually work like the fear spell.

If a fear effect allows a saving throw, it is a Will save (DC = 10 + 1/2 the fearsome creature’s racial HD + that creature’s Charisma modifier the exact DC is given in the creature’s descriptive text). All fear attacks are mind-affecting fear effects.

Format: fear aura (30 ft., DC 17) Location: Aura.

Format: fear cone (50 ft., DC 19) Location: Special Attacks.

Invisibility

The ability to move about unseen is not foolproof. While they can’t be seen, invisible creatures can be heard, smelled, or felt.

Invisibility makes a creature undetectable by vision, including darkvision.

Invisibility does not, by itself, make a creature immune to critical hits, but it does make the creature immune to extra damage from being a ranger’s favored enemy and from sneak attacks.

A creature can generally notice the presence of an active invisible creature within 30 feet with a DC 20 Perception check. The observer gains a hunch that “something’s there” but can’t see it or target it accurately with an attack. It’s practically impossible (+20 DC) to pinpoint an invisible creature’s location with a Perception check. Even once a character has pinpointed the square that contains an invisible creature, the creature still benefits from total concealment (50% miss chance). There are a number of modifiers that can be applied to this DC if the invisible creature is moving or engaged in a noisy activity.

Invisible creature is… Perception
DC Modifier
In combat or speaking –20
Moving at half speed –5
Moving at full speed –10
Running or charging –20
Not moving +20
Using Stealth Stealth check +20
Some distance away +1 per 10 feet
Behind an obstacle (door) +5
Behind an obstacle (stone wall) +15

A creature can grope about to find an invisible creature. A character can make a touch attack with his hands or a weapon into two adjacent 5-foot squares using a standard action. If an invisible target is in the designated area, there is a 50% miss chance on the touch attack. If successful, the groping character deals no damage but has successfully pinpointed the invisible creature’s current location. If the invisible creature moves, its location, obviously, is once again unknown.

If an invisible creature strikes a character, the character struck knows the location of the creature that struck him (until, of course, the invisible creature moves). The only exception is if the invisible creature has a reach greater than 5 feet. In this case, the struck character knows the general location of the creature but has not pinpointed the exact location.

If a character tries to attack an invisible creature whose location he has pinpointed, he attacks normally, but the invisible creature still benefits from full concealment (and thus a 50% miss chance). A particularly large and slow invisible creature might get a smaller miss chance.

If a character tries to attack an invisible creature whose location he has not pinpointed, have the player choose the space where the character will direct the attack. If the invisible creature is there, conduct the attack normally. If the enemy’s not there, roll the miss chance as if it were there and tell him that the character has missed, regardless of the result. That way the player doesn’t know whether the attack missed because the enemy’s not there or because you successfully rolled the miss chance.

If an invisible character picks up a visible object, the object remains visible. An invisible creature can pick up a small visible item and hide it on his person (tucked in a pocket or behind a cloak) and render it effectively invisible. One could coat an invisible object with flour to at least keep track of its position (until the flour falls off or blows away).

Invisible creatures leave tracks. They can be tracked normally. Footprints in sand, mud, or other soft surfaces can give enemies clues to an invisible creature’s location.

An invisible creature in the water displaces water, revealing its location. The invisible creature, however, is still hard to see and benefits from concealment.

A creature with the scent ability can detect an invisible creature as it would a visible one.

A creature with the Blind-Fight feat has a better chance to hit an invisible creature. Roll the miss chance twice, and he misses only if both rolls indicate a miss. (Alternatively, make one 25% miss chance roll rather than two 50% miss chance rolls.)

A creature with blindsight can attack (and otherwise interact with) creatures regardless of invisibility.

An invisible burning torch still gives off light, as does an invisible object with a light or similar spell cast upon it.

Ethereal creatures are invisible. Since ethereal creatures are not materially present, Perception checks, scent, Blind-Fight, and blindsight don’t help locate them. Incorporeal creatures are often invisible. Scent, Blind-Fight, and blindsight don’t help creatures find or attack invisible, incorporeal creatures, but Perception checks can help.

Invisible creatures cannot use gaze attacks.

Invisibility does not thwart divination spells.

Since some creatures can detect or even see invisible creatures, it is helpful to be able to hide even when invisible.

Low-Light Vision

Characters with low-light vision have eyes that are so sensitive to light that they can see twice as far as normal in dim light. Low-light vision is color vision. A spellcaster with low-light vision can read a scroll as long as even the tiniest candle flame is next to him as a source of light.

Characters with low-light vision can see outdoors on a moonlit night as well as they can during the day.

Paralysis

Some monsters and spells have the supernatural or spell-like ability to paralyze their victims, immobilizing them through magical means. Paralysis from poison is discussed in the Afflictions section.

A paralyzed character cannot move, speak, or take any physical action. He is rooted to the spot, frozen and helpless. Not even friends can move his limbs. He may take purely mental actions, such as casting a spell with no components.

A winged creature flying in the air at the time that it becomes paralyzed cannot flap its wings and falls. A swimmer can’t swim and may drown.

Scent

This extraordinary ability lets a creature detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell.

A creature with the scent ability can detect opponents by sense of smell, generally within 30 feet. If the opponent is upwind, the range is 60 feet. If it is downwind, the range is 15 feet. Strong scents, such as smoke or rotting garbage, can be detected at twice the ranges noted above. Overpowering scents, such as skunk musk or troglodyte stench, can be detected at three times these ranges.

The creature detects another creature’s presence but not its specific location. Noting the direction of the scent is a move action. If the creature moves within 5 feet (1 square) of the scent’s source, the creature can pinpoint the area that the source occupies, even if it cannot be seen.

A creature with the Survival skill and the scent ability can follow tracks by smell, making a Survival check to find or follow a track. A creature with the scent ability can attempt to follow tracks using Survival untrained. The typical DC for a fresh trail is 10. The DC increases or decreases depending on how strong the quarry’s odor is, the number of creatures, and the age of the trail. For each hour that the trail is cold, the DC increases by 2. The ability otherwise follows the rules for the Survival skill in regards to tracking. Creatures tracking by scent ignore the effects of surface conditions and poor visibility.

Creatures with the scent ability can identify familiar odors just as humans do familiar sights.

Water, particularly running water, ruins a trail for air-breathing creatures. Water-breathing creatures that have the scent ability, however, can use it in the water easily.

False, powerful odors can easily mask other scents. The presence of such an odor completely spoils the ability to properly detect or identify creatures, and the base Survival DC to track becomes 20 rather than 10.

Spell Resistance

Spell resistance (abbreviated SR) is the extraordinary ability to avoid being affected by spells. Some spells also grant spell resistance.

To affect a creature that has spell resistance, a spellcaster must make a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) at least equal to the creature’s spell resistance. The defender’s spell resistance is like an Armor Class against magical attacks. If the caster fails the check, the spell doesn’t affect the creature. The possessor does not have to do anything special to use spell resistance. The creature need not even be aware of the threat for its spell resistance to operate.

Only spells and spell-like abilities are subject to spell resistance. Extraordinary and supernatural abilities (including enhancement bonuses on magic weapons) are not. A creature can have some abilities that are subject to spell resistance and some that are not. Even some spells ignore spell resistance see When Spell Resistance Applies, below.

A creature can voluntarily lower its spell resistance. Doing so is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. Once a creature lowers its resistance, it remains down until the creature’s next turn. At the beginning of the creature’s next turn, the creature’s spell resistance automatically returns unless the creature intentionally keeps it down (also a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity).

A creature’s spell resistance never interferes with its own spells, items, or abilities.

A creature with spell resistance cannot impart this power to others by touching them or standing in their midst. Only the rarest of creatures and a few magic items have the ability to bestow spell resistance upon another.

Spell resistance does not stack, but rather overlaps.

When Spell Resistance Applies

Each spell includes an entry that indicates whether spell resistance applies to the spell. In general, whether spell resistance applies depends on what the spell does.

Spell resistance applies if the spell is targeted at the creature. Some individually targeted spells can be directed at several creatures simultaneously. In such cases, a creature’s spell resistance applies only to the portion of the spell actually targeted at that creature. If several different resistant creatures are subjected to such a spell, each checks its spell resistance separately.

Spell resistance applies if the resistant creature is within the spell’s area. It protects the resistant creature without affecting the spell itself.

Most effect spells summon or create something and are not subject to spell resistance. Sometimes, however, spell resistance applies to effect spells, usually to those that act upon a creature more or less directly, such as web.

Spell resistance can protect a creature from a spell that’s already been cast. Check spell resistance when the creature is first affected by the spell.

Check spell resistance only once for any particular casting of a spell or use of a spell-like ability. If spell resistance fails the first time, it fails each time the creature encounters that same casting of the spell. Likewise, if the spell resistance succeeds the first time, it always succeeds. If the creature has voluntarily lowered its spell resistance and is then subjected to a spell, the creature still has a single chance to resist that spell later, when its spell resistance is back up.

Spell resistance has no effect unless the energy created or released by the spell actually goes to work on the resistant creature’s mind or body. If the spell acts on anything else and the creature is affected as a consequence, no roll is required. Spell-resistant creatures can be harmed by a spell when they are not being directly affected.

Spell resistance does not apply if an effect fools the creature’s senses or reveals something about the creature.

Magic actually has to be working for spell resistance to apply. Spells that have instantaneous durations but lasting results aren’t subject to spell resistance unless the resistant creature is exposed to the spell the instant it is cast.

Successful Spell Resistance

Spell resistance prevents a spell or a spell-like ability from affecting or harming the resistant creature, but it never removes a magical effect from another creature or negates a spell’s effect on another creature. Spell resistance prevents a spell from disrupting another spell.

Against an ongoing spell that has already been cast, a failed check against spell resistance allows the resistant creature to ignore any effect the spell might have. The magic continues to affect others normally.


For breakthroughs in slowing aging, scientists must look beyond biology

USC University Professor and AARP Chair in Gerontology Eileen Crimmins Credit: John Skalicky/USC

A trio of recent studies highlight the need to incorporate behavioral and social science alongside the study of biological mechanisms in order to slow aging.

The three papers, published in concert in Ageing Research Reviews, emphasized how behavioral and social factors are intrinsic to aging. This means they are causal drivers of biological aging. In fact, the influence of behavioral and social factors on how fast people age are large and meaningful. However, geroscience—the study of how to slow biological aging to extend healthspan and longevity—has traditionally not incorporated behavioral or social science research. These papers are by three pioneers in aging research and members of the National Academy of Medicine who study different aspects of the intersection of biology and social factors in shaping healthy aging through the lifespan.

Improving translation of aging research from mice to humans

Exciting biological discoveries about rate of aging in non-human species are sometimes not applicable or lost when we apply them to humans. Including behavioral and social research can support translation of geroscience findings from animal models to benefit humans, said Terrie Moffitt, the Nannerl O. Keohane University Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University.

"The move from slowing fundamental processes of aging in laboratory animals to slowing aging in humans will not be as simple as prescribing a pill and watching it work," Moffitt said. "Compared to aging in laboratory animals, human aging has many behavioral/social in addition to cellular origins and influences. These influences include potential intervention targets that are uniquely human, and therefore are not easily investigated in animal research."

Several of these human factors have big impacts on health and mortality: stress and early life adversity, psychiatric history, personality traits, intelligence, loneliness and social connection, and purpose in life are connected to a variety of late-life health outcomes, she explained. These important factors need to be taken into account to get a meaningful prediction of human biological aging.

"Geroscience can be augmented through collaboration with behavioral and social science to accomplish translation from animal models to humans, and improve the design of clinical trials of anti-aging therapies," Moffitt said. "It's vital that geroscience advances be delivered to everyone, not just the well-to-do, because individuals who experience low education, low incomes, adverse early-life experiences, and prejudice are the people who age fastest and die youngest."

Social factors associated with poor aging outcomes

"Social hallmarks of aging" can be strongly predictive of age-related health outcomes—in many cases, even more so than biological factors, said USC University Professor and AARP Chair in Gerontology Eileen Crimmins. While the aging field commonly discusses the biological hallmarks of aging, we don't tend to include the social and behavioral factors that lead to premature aging. Crimmins has called the main five factors below "the Social Hallmarks of aging" and poses that these should not be ignored in any sample of humans and the concepts should be incorporated where possible into non-human studies.

Crimmins examined data that was collected in 2016 from the Health and Retirement Study, a large, nationally representative study of Americans over the age of 56 that incorporates both surveys regarding social factors and biological measurements, including a blood sample for genetic analysis. For the study, she focused the five social hallmarks for poor health outcomes:

  1. low lifetime socioeconomic status, including lower levels of education
  2. adversity in childhood and adulthood, including trauma and other hardships
  3. being a member of a minority group
  4. adverse health behaviors, including smoking, obesity and problem drinking
  5. adverse psychological states, such as depression, negative psychological outlook and chronic stress

The presence of these five factors were strongly associated with older adults having difficulty with activities of daily living, experiencing problems with cognition, and multimorbidity (having five or more diseases). Even when controlling for biological measurements—including blood pressure, genetic risk factors, mitochondrial DNA copy number and more—the social differences, as well as demographic factors such as age and gender, explained most of the differences in aging outcomes between study subjects, she said. However, biological and social factors aren't completely independent from one another, Crimmins added, which is why she advocates for further incorporation of social and behavioral factors in aging biology research.

"Variability in human aging is strongly related to the social determinants of aging and it remains so when extensive biology is introduced as mediating factors. This means that the social variability in the aging process is only partly explained by the biological measures researchers currently use," she said. "Our hypothesis is that if we could fully capture the basic biological mechanisms of aging, they would even more strongly explain the social variability in the process of aging, as social factors need to 'get under the skin' through biology."

Understanding stress and stress resilience

Elissa Epel, professor and vice chair in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UC San Francisco, detailed how research on stress and resilience needs to incorporate psychosocial factors in order to understand how different kinds of stress affect aging. Not all types of stress are equal and in fact some are salutary.

The social hallmarks of aging can shape the rate of aging in part through toxic stress responses, she said. While acute responses to minor or moderate stressors, including infection or injury, is critical to survival, chronic exposure to high amounts of stress—including long-term psychological stressors such as abuse—can prove toxic and result in poor health outcomes.

"Brief, intermittent, low-dose stressors can lead to positive biological responses, improving resistance to damage, which is called hormesis," Epel explained. For example, physiological hormetic stressors include short term exposure to cold, heat, exercise, or hypoxia. Hormetic stress turns on mechanisms of cell repair and rejuvenation. "In contrast, a high dose of a chronic exposure can override these mechanisms, resulting in damage or death," she added. Thus, toxic stress can accelerate biological aging processes, whereas hormetic stress can slow aging.

However, the types, timing, and frequency of hormetic stress need to be better delineated in order to be useful to human aging research and interventions, Epel said.

"Stress resilience, an umbrella term including hormetic stress, can be measured across cellular, physiological, and psychosocial functioning," she said. "Developing a deeper understanding of stress resilience will lead to more targeted innovative interventions." Stress resilience can also include social interventions that protect from the malleable social hallmarks of aging, including safe neighborhoods to reduce trauma and violence, and social support programs to combat loneliness and depression.

Geroscience is now more important than ever, both to our aging global demography but also to the health challenges we face going forward, and stress resilience is an especially important topic at the moment, Epel added. "In our new era, we have dramatically increasing temperature extremes, wildfires and small particle pollution, and new zoonotic viruses to contend with intermittently," she said. "Reducing social disparities, improving stress resilience and bolstering immune function have become critical public health goals."

In sum, the three papers together point to a promising decade ahead for aging research.

Humans, as complex social mammals, age together in response to social conditions and behavioral factors that are partly malleable. Epel explains "As we discover and test biological processes of aging that we can manipulate, we can do this in tandem with capitalizing on the natural levers of healthy aging that are powerful, interactive, and cannot be ignored. In this way, the fountain of youth becomes more attainable."