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The Artful Amoeba

The Artful Amoeba


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Mosses With a Real Inferiority Complex

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Mosses, which probably already have an inferiority complex, must feel especially inferior in Sequoia National Park. When you stand in the shadows of giants, how will you ever get noticed?

If you are lucky, someone like Lena Coleman will come to your rescue.

You may have recently read David Quammen’s wonderful profile of The President, the second-largest tree on Earth and a resident of Sequoia National Park. Coleman, who has been studying the mosses there for her Ph.D., made a short film about some of the park’s other residents that may be equally worthy of your notice …

Pay attention to the chorus of the soundtrack.

For me, this was an incredible feel-good video. I hope it was for you too. I never imagined I’d feel so joyful watching something titled “Bryophytes of Sequoia National Park”.

Coleman is a graduate student at California State University, Northridge. She also made — for the hardcore botany enthusiasts out there — a more technical (but still awesomely sound-tracked!) video of moss identification basics (below), and two more video field guides to the actual moss species in the park. Only tread here if you aren’t intimidated by such terms as “sporophyte” or “conductive tissue”.

Thanks to Jessica Budke, a postdoc and moss scientist at UC Davis, who pens the blog Moss Plants and More for bringing my attention to these wonderful videos. Happy Friday everyone!

Jennifer Frazer About the Author: Jennifer Frazer is a AAAS Science Journalism Award-winning science writer. She has degrees in biology, plant pathology/mycology, and science writing, and has spent many happy hours studying life in situ.
Nature Blog Network
Follow on Twitter @JenniferFrazer.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Ingamas 10:33 pm 02/8/2013

    Nice, the plants should have there scientific names.
    I think hornworts are simpler then liverworts.

    Link to this
  2. 2. ldobehardcore 4:00 am 02/9/2013

    First Video: Perfect song for looking at moss.

    The original music video was basically a love story in a microchip fab plant. But Such Great Heights by The Postal Service works wonderfully for anyone trying to look at or display anything at a different scale than our own bumbling human sizes. Glad The Postal Service is doing a reunion this year.

    Link to this

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