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Posts Tagged "Animals"

The Artful Amoeba

New Worm-Like Mite Features Extraordinary Upholstery

mite_cuticle_paddles_Bolton_et_al_2014_200

This bizarre structure is not from the prop shop of a science fiction movie, though it may well provide inspiration there. What might you guess this claw-like appendage is attached to? Would you have guessed . . . a mite? As in, the same group of spider-relative arachnids that brought us the dust mite, the [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Tiny, Ancient Crustacean Preserved in Fool’s Gold, Legs, Eggs and All

ostracod_Siveter et al Image 1_200

Once upon a time there lived a little crustacean inside a little shell. This is not a usual state of affairs for a crustacean. Most are clad in figure-hugging armor (like lobsters or crabs), but they don’t live inside clam-like shells. This one was different. It had both armor and a hinged shell. Inside her [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

A Closer Look at a Tiny, Floating Horde

sea_urchin_larvae_kirby_ocean_drifters

It’s a strange but true fact that the young of many familiar sea creatures look nothing like them. Drifting on currents to distribute their kind, they are an unsung part of the plankton, itself an unsung part of the sea. A few years back, I wrote about the work of Richard Kirby, a research fellow [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

My Favorite Biology Finds in London’s Natural History Museum

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  This past year, I made a pilgrimage that every natural history lover should, if possible, make. I visited the Natural History Museum in London, the house that Richard Owen built, the home of the first dinosaur bones ever discovered, the first Archaeopteryx fossil, and a first-edition copy of  “On the Origin of Species”. If [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Wonderful Things: The Pugnacious, Alien-esque Skeleton Shrimp

skeleton_shrimp_Liropus_minusculus_cc_SINC_200

This is the fifth post in the Wonderful Things series. This creature is not an insect, nor something you need to worry about exploding from your chest. It’s a crustacean called a skeleton shrimp, and it’s only a few millimeters long. This particular skeleton shrimp is Liropus minusculus, a new species of Caprellid Crustacean discovered [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

You Know You Want To Help (6-Legged) Monarchs. Here’s How.

monarch_caterpillar_milkweed_Marshal_Hedin_flickr_permission_200

Last year, a hard year by monarch butterfly migration standards, 60 million monarchs showed up at their misty wintering grounds in Mexico. This year, so far, a mere 3 million have straggled in — and late, too, according to a disturbing must-read piece (“The Year the Monarch Didn’t Appear”) published last Friday in the New [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

What Do Vampire Squid Really Eat? Hint: It’s Not Blood

vampiroteuthis_infernalis_screenshot_200

Waters nearly devoid of oxygen are not just found off the coast of South America, as we saw last time. “Oxygen minimum zones” may occur throughout the world’s ocean’s at mid-water depths where food consumption is high but supplies of oxygen are low. Although, as I mentioned last time, such waters are dead zones for [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Wonderful Things: The Universe Between the Sand Grains

gastrotrich_Thaumastoderma_ramuliferum_wiki_cc_Todaro_et_al_200

This is the fourth post in the Wonderful Things series. As we saw last time, the thin strip of sand found on beaches is home to many organisms that can dwell no where else. But the strip swept by waves — the intertidal — may be the richest part of all. Living between the wet [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Cute Isopod ISO Sweet Beach. Likes: Sand. Dislikes: Grooming

isopod_sand_David_Hubbard_200

Pandas, lions, and elk and their ilk often find their way onto the covers of conservationists’ marketing materials. But I think relying exclusively on big furry animals (industry codename: charasmatic megafauna) means they are missing out on some potentially awesome spokes-creatures. Take this little guy. How can you resist that face? And his requests are [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

150 Million Years of Fish Evolution in One Handy Figure

anglerfish(Humpback)_wiki_pd_200

Have you ever wished you could have the entire 150 million years of spiny-rayed fish evolution in convenient poster form? Well, wait no longer. Your happy day is here! Trust me . . . this is one poster featuring mullets you will not be embarrassed to display. (Click to enlarge. Click twice, actually) Plus, you can [...]

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Bering in Mind

Laughing rats and ticklish gorillas: Joy and mirth in humans and other animals

Last week, while in a drowsy, altitude-induced delirium 35,000 feet somewhere over Iceland, I groped mindlessly for the cozy blue blanket poking out beneath my seat, only to realize—to my unutterable horror—that I was in fact tugging soundly on a wriggling, sock-covered big toe. Now with a temperament such as mine, life tends to be [...]

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Brainwaves

Dear Evolution: Letters of Gripe and Gratitude

By Mara Grunbaum and Ferris Jabr Dear Evolution, Let’s start with the wings: did you really have to turn them into flippers? Don’t get us wrong—we appreciate the swimming and diving talents. But couldn’t you have come up with some kind of compromise so that we could still fly? Maybe a 2-in-1 special, a wing/flipper [...]

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Brainwaves

Know Your Neurons: What Is the Ratio of Glia to Neurons in the Brain?

Previously, on Know Your Neurons: Chapter 1: The Discovery and Naming of the Neuron Chapter 2: How to Classify Different Types of Neurons Chapter 3: Meet the Glia Chapter 4: What is the Ratio of Glia to Neurons in the Brain? By Daisy Yuhas and Ferris Jabr Last time on Know Your Neurons, we talked [...]

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But Seriously...

Olinguito: New Kid on the Block

Olinguito

The olinguito has become a science media darling this past week. And why not? It’s small and furry and doesn’t look quite like anything you’ve seen before. Unless you’ve seen an olingo. Olingos are relatively obscure relatives of the more popular raccoon. They live up in rainforest canopies of South America, and are mostly active [...]

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Dog Spies

Anthrozoology: Not a Study of Ants

Anthrozoology_Dog Spies_Square

Never seen the word “Anthrozoology” before? That’s okay. If you looked at the word and focused on the “ant” part, then try again. Instead, “Anthro” and “Zoology” are the interesting bits, and broadly speaking anthrozoology is the study of human-animal interactions and relationships. This is how it’s pronounced, along with a brief primer: As the [...]

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Dog Spies

Dogs in Pantyhose

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Until recently, the only association I made between dogs and pantyhose would have involved an unfortunate trip to the vet. Of the inanimate objects pulled from pets’ gastrointestinal tracts — from drywall and hearing aids to corn cobs and toy cars — pantyhose, and their cousins, socks and underwear, top the list. But last week, [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Updates from the Brink: A Plan for Bats, Oil-Spill Penguins and Branson’s Lemurs

The news about endangered species doesn’t slow down. Here, we update some Extinction Countdown stories covered in recent weeks: A plan to save bats The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a national plan to combat the bat-killing white-nose syndrome (WNS) on May 17. As we have reported here many times before, the fungus that [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Nearly extinct giraffe subspecies enjoys conservation success

west African giraffe

The rarest of the nine giraffe subspecies, the West African giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis peralta), almost didn’t make it to the 21st century. After years of being poached and losing habitat to development, only 50 of these animals were left in Niger in 1996, and the subspecies’s future seemed bleak. But today, just 13 years later, [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Search for world’s rarest lemur pays off

greater bamboo lemur

Heading into the jungles of Madagascar in search of the world’s rarest lemur—the greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus)—was a gamble that paid off, said Damian Aspinall of The Aspinall Foundation. An expedition of scientists from the foundation, Conservation International (CI), Association Mitsinjo, and GERP (Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche sur les Primates de Madagascar) searched [...]

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Extinction Countdown

How much is a wolf worth in Idaho? $11.75

wolf howling at moon

Gray wolves have a price tag on their heads in Idaho, and it’s a bargain-basement price at that. Starting Monday, Idaho residents can get wolf-hunting permits for just $11.75 (after purchasing a state hunting license for $12.75, of course). Nonresidents have to pay a bit more: $154.75 for a hunting license, plus $186 for a [...]

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Guest Blog

Good Dads and Not-So-Good Dads in the Animal Kingdom

Happy father’s day! First off, to every father out there (biological or not), this is the time where we stand up and say thank you. We may not always show it, but we love you and appreciate everything you have done for us thus far. Today is also the day where we celebrate the uniqueness [...]

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Guest Blog

When Cells Discovered Architecture

In early 1997, while still a freshman in college pondering whether to study biology or archaeology, I opened up my copy of Discover Magazine to find an article that startled and captivated me. "When Life Was Odd", read the headline, and if that didn’t sell me, the photos did. They were of Ediacarans, creatures named [...]

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Guest Blog

Bambi or Bessie: Are wild animals happier?

We, as emotional beings, place a high value on happiness and joy. Happiness is more than a feeling to us – it’s something we require and strive for. We’re so fixated on happiness that we define the pursuit of it as a right. We seek happiness not only for ourselves and our loved ones, but [...]

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Guest Blog

Ugly animals need love, too

February is the month of love, and with Valentine’s Day behind us, it is only natural to feel a certain affection for those that were sadly alone on this year’s February the 14th. That is why this post is devoted to the outcasts on the animal kingdom, the species that sadly do not get as [...]

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Lab Rat

Guest post: I am my mother’s chimera

A tortoiseshell shorthair cat, image from wikimedia commons.

This weeks post is a guest post from the wonderful E.E. Giorgi who blogs at: http://chimerasthebooks.blogspot.co.uk/ I AM MY MOTHER’S CHIMERA. CHANCES ARE, SO ARE YOU For years now the concept of a “genetic chimera” has sparked the imagination of writers: the idea that an individual could harbor his/her own twin is creepy and intriguing at the [...]

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Lab Rat

69th Carnival of Evolution: Darwin’s Day Edition

Portrait of Charles Darwin, late 1830s. From Origins, Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin.

Welcome to the 69th edition of the Carnival of Evolution! As February 12th was Darwin’s birthday, this is a Darwin’s Day carnival edition. To start with there’s a celebration of all things Darwinian at Synthetic Daisies, and a letter to the man himself for his 205th birthday. Darwin didn’t know it existed, but nowadays the study [...]

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Lab Rat

The bacteria in breast milk

Norse mother, by Albert Neuhuys (1844 - 1914) Image credit: www.rijksmuseum.nl

Bacteria are found in large numbers all over the human body where there is a channel to the outside world, for example in the gut, lungs, and surface of the skin. I’ve always thought that actually inside the human body was a bacteria-free environment unless an infection was raging so I was very excited to find [...]

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Lab Rat

Butterfly watch: four legs vs. six legs

A large white, Pieris brassicae, image (c) James Gould

After last years rains and the late snows of winter, this summer has been a really good one for British butterflies. As August has now come to an end, and summer technically turns into autumn, I thought it was time for another butterfly post. In particular, I wanted to write about one of the stranger [...]

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Lab Rat

Butterfly watch: multi-generational migrations

The Painted Lady butterfly, Vanessa cardui. Picture taken in Ename, Belgium Tim Bekaert (July 12, 2005).

Migrating animals are always impressive to watch. The ability to cover huge areas of land in massive groups can be a beneficial strategy for many animals; whether birds, mammals or shoals of fish. Yet even more impressive than migrations by groups of individuals are those that take place over several generations. In the case of [...]

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Lab Rat

Lab Rat has a baby on board!

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It has been a while since I’ve last posted. Usually I try not to give excuses for lateness, but this time I do have a very good one. I’m currently 15 and a half weeks pregnant! In the UK there is a fairly good and well thought-out system to make sure pregnant women get all [...]

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Lab Rat

How the animals lost their sensors

The components of the two-component signalling system. Picture (c) me.

For free-living organisms, the ability to sense and respond to the outside environment is crucial for survival. Eukaryotes, such as animals and plants, often have highly complex network systems in place to monitor their surroundings and respond effectively, but bacteria have developed a remarkably simple system. It’s called the ‘Two Component System’ because it literally [...]

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Lab Rat

How to milk a pigeon

Two pigeons in the UK. Photo by Mr SG from wikimedia commons (credit link below)

Milk is produced by mammals in order to provide nutrition to their growing young. It’s pretty special stuff, as not only does it provide all the nutrients and energy needed to fuel a growing baby (consider that for at least six months a human infant drinks nothing but milk) it also aids in the development [...]

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Lab Rat

The bacteria that make insects eat their own brains

An electon micrograph of an insect cell, with three Wolbachia bacteria inside (the large circular blobs with white lines surrounding them). Image from reference 2.

As far as bacteria are concerned, other living creatures are just another niche to exploit, which means that pretty much every animal and plant has a set of bacterial pathogens that come along with it. These bacteria have made the animal in question their speciality, and are highly adapted to live inside their hosts. While [...]

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Lab Rat

Butterfly Watch: The Wall Butterfly

A male wall butterfly, photo by Jörg Hempel via wikimedia commons. Credit link below.

I’ve been on holiday for the last few days, so haven’t had much time to read papers about bacteria. What I have been doing, however, is looking at butterflies. Since my sudden and unexpected discovery that I was obsessed with them I have since bought a butterfly field guide and now try to identify them [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Self-Controlled Crows Ace the Marshmallow Test

Are four treats better than two? Not if you’re a crow picking a favorite snack. Crows and ravens hold off on gobbling a tidbit when they can see a better one coming after a short wait. But they’ll only act with restraint if the future treat is something they like more than what they already [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Plenty of Pheromones in the Sea

As we sat in my car outside a silent movie theater in Los Angeles, my friend anxiously opened a plastic bag containing a white T-shirt she’d slept in for the past three nights. “Does it smell like me?” she asked nervously, gesturing the open end toward my face. I stuck my nose into the bag [...]

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Observations

The Race to Catalogue Living Species before They Go Extinct

soft-coral

The U.S. has spent several billion dollars looking for life on other planets. Shouldn’t we spend at least that much finding and identifying life on Earth? That is the argument behind a taxonomy analysis by a trio of scientists in Science, published on January 25. They argue just $500 million to $1 billion a year [...]

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Observations

Animal Tracks: Music about Unusual Creatures Features Some Unusual Instruments [Video]

dugong, underwater photo

Michael Hearst seems to enjoy making music with a purpose. About five years ago the Brooklyn, N.Y., musician made headlines with a pretty self-explanatory record called Songs for Ice Cream Trucks. Since then, he and his band One Ring Zero have released an album-long ode to the planets (including Pluto), as well as a record [...]

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Observations

5-Armed Brittle Stars Always Face Front [Video]

brittle star

How would you walk if you had five arms and no brains? If you’re a brittle star, the answer turns out to be quite well (for an echinoderm)—although it’s a little complicated. The blunt-spined brittle star (Ophiocoma echinata) looks like a claymation creature from an alien horror movie as it moves its disk-like body along [...]

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Observations

Animals Exposed to Virtual Reality Hold an Emergency Meeting [Video]

On the evening of Wednesday, March 21, a mouse scurried into a storm drain near the southeast corner of Central Park in New York City. If anyone noticed the mouse at all, whatever shallow impression the sight of a Manhattan rodent made on their minds likely vanished within seconds, rinsed away by a new wave [...]

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Observations

3-D Imaging of Microfossils Muddies Case for Early Animal Embryos [Video]

The proverbial primordial soup from which our earliest, multi-cellular ancestors emerged was presumably seething with many much simpler, single-celled organisms. Finding the first indications of evolution into more advanced, embryonic development has proved difficult, however, both because of the organisms’ small size and soft structures. A famous collection of minute 570-million-year-old fossils, from the Doushantuo [...]

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Observations

Stress tests devised to reliably reveal personality in birds

greenfinch from animal personality test of stress and behavior

Most dog and cat owners will happily describe their pet’s disposition down to the smallest, human-like detail. But how much of that is over-reaching anthropomorphizing and how much is an individual animal’s actual "personality" shining through? Researchers in the U.K. devised a series of tests to see how individual animals respond—both behaviorally and biologically—to different [...]

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Observations

Mongoose mentors teach traditions through imitation

In Australia, some dolphins suit up for dinner. Before poking through seafloor mud for a delectable crustacean or cephalopod, the dolphins protect their sensitive snouts with marine sponges. What’s more, dolphins teach each other this behavior. It’s a kind of cultural learning observed in other highly intelligent animals, such as chimpanzees, who teach one another [...]

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Observations

Clever critters: Bonobos that share, brainy bugs and social dogs

NEW YORK—When it comes to brain power, we humans like to think we’re the animal kingdom’s undisputed champions. But in the past few decades we’ve had to make a lot of room on our mantle place for shared trophies. Problem-solving? Sorry, but crows and octopuses do that too. Tool use? Primates, birds and even fish [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Does the Octopus Really “Fart” Ink?—and Other Strange Facts [Video]

octopus

It’s true that the octopus is super weird. These animals have blue blood and three hearts. And as online personality and humorist Ze Frank points out in his latest video creation, it seems that they can also “fart ink at a moment’s notice”—pointing to this as “evolution at its finest.” The video’s tongue-in-cheek tone might [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

How Lil Wayne, the NYC Octopus, Will Help Scientists Understand the Brain

BROOKLYN—It wasn’t hard to name Lil Wayne. He actually volunteered to take the rapper’s moniker. On April 2, Frank Grasso, director of the Biomemetic and Cognitive Robotics Lab at Brooklyn College, showed me around his lab spaces—from where they build mobile robots to where they keep their axolotls and fiddler crabs to the crown jewel: [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Scientists Move to Patent Octopus Robot

octopus

Scientists have spent years crafting a very special, creepy robot. One that can crawl over obstacles, swim through surf and grasp just about any object. To achieve all of these tasks, the robot needed to be unlike most other bots. It needed to be soft. In late 2011, a team of researchers in Italy had [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

How To Grow a Patagonian Red Octopus

octopus eggs

Octopuses are tricky animals to keep in captivity. They’re smart, strong and slinky. But surely their eggs much be easier—being naturally contained and all. Not always, it turns out. Researchers in Chile have been on a quest to grow a local octopus species in captivity after it was overfished in the wild. The results of [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Amazing Mimic Octopus Caught in Thailand [Video]

mimic octopus

The mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) eluded formal description until 2005. Perhaps it was this banded cephalopod’s incredible impersonation abilities that kept it from science for so long. Its many guises and odd behaviors have been caught on video, but a new specimen, captured off the coast of Thailand, gives researches new evidence of the octopus’s [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Giant Octopus Checks Out Camera and Diver [Video] [Updated]

The octopus making headlines this week was probably not—contrary to other claims—attempting to wrestle a diver or take a selfie. But then again, nice, curious invertebrates rarely make headlines. Two divers, Warren Murray and David Malvestuto, were photographing wildlife in Bluefish Cove, off the cost of Carmel, California about 80 feet below the surface, NBC News [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

16 Arms + 6 Hearts = Love? Watch an Octopus Blind Date Live

octopus date love

  This Valentine’s Day, two octopuses are getting set up on a blind date. And you can watch what happens. Ace, a male giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) between 40 and 50 pounds and two-and-a-half to three-years old, and YoYo, a female of a similar size and age, will be introduced for the first time [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

National Zoo’s Octopus Dies in the Company of Her Favorite Toy—a Kong

pandora octopus

Pandora, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) died at her Washington, D.C. home (tank) Wednesday at the advanced age of five. She stretched more than eight feet across and was the zoo’s longest-lived octopus. Earlier this week, Biologist and keeper of the invertebrate exhibit, Tamie DeWitt, wrote in an email that, “for [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

How the Octopus Creates Instant 3-D Camouflage on Its Skin

octopus skin camo

We’ve all seen the amazing video of the octopus that has entirely vanished against a plant, only to flash white and reveal itself as it swims away. The seamless color-matched camouflage is stunning. But we’ve been ignoring an equally as incredible aspect of their camo abilities: 3-D morphing. Yes, they can squeeze their bodies to [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Odd Male Octopus Flaunts 2 Unexpected Arm Phalluses

octopus arm phallus hectocotyli

Is that a case of bilateral hectocotylization, or are you just extra happy to see me? Or so might a female octopus say if she met the young subject of a new report about a certain biological oddity—or oddities. A rare juvenile octopus was captured off the coast of Alaska flaunting not one but two [...]

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PsiVid

Mammal March Madness! Learn About Animal Competition in the Wild!

As a young girl, Katie Hinde became quite excited when her dad was preparing to watch the Bengals vs. the Bears on TV. It seems she was expecting this: What an education for the then four year old as she did not see a single tiger OR bear on TV that day and instead saw [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

These skulls are for talking about

Bored? Looking for things to do? No, me neither. But have some fun and look at these skulls — then identify them (taking care to note your identifications in the comments below). And then… … see if you can go that extra bit further and say something especially interesting*, since there’s lots of neat stuff going [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Jagged-toothed mystery monster; needs identifying

It’s Friday and I’m about to go away on fieldwork for a while, so let’s have some fun (even though substantial media interest in the new Isle of Wight azhdarchoid pterosaur Vectidraco continues unabated). Why not knock yourself out and have a go at identifying this bizarre skeletal tetrapod, surely one of the weirdest things [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Tet Zoo ver 3, (part of) the story so far

Tet Zoo ver 3 – the Sci Am incarnation of this august and influential institution – has now been going for about 10 months, and a moderately respectable 78 articles have appeared on the blog so far (excluding this one). The vast majority have been lengthy, referenced, heavily illustrated articles – no brief, picture-of-the-day-style contributions [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Pouched Rat having a treat

African Giant Pouched rat Gambian Pouched rat Cricetomys ansorgei in a cage

This is a video recording of me introducing a new snack to the African Giant Pouched Rats (Cricetomys ansorgei) – fresh pumpkin seeds. This fellow really seems to like it. I’m super impressed by this species dexterity. His handling of this seeds shows that. This is just a snap shot of an experiment I am [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Research Snapshots 6

DNLee Gambian Pouched Rats Cricetomys

I was trying very hard to share some new photos from but I can’t seen to upload any pictures today. I’m missing my rats, actually, so revisiting the photographs of them makes me recall all of their shenanigans. #OiTNBrats. My equipment isn’t fully set up so I’m not scoring videos yet and I’m still awaiting [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Pouched Rat Research Gif

Barnes Maze for Pouched Rat

This is a series of shots of me cleaning this Barnes Maze between behavioral observations of my research subjects, the African Giant Pouched Rat, Cricetomys ansorgei.  The diameter of the table or Barnes Maze is 6 feet across, and is nearly feet off of the ground. Which is why I use an extended squeegee and [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Research Snapshots 5

The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Research Snapshots 4

Snack time.

Because I know you all have missed seeing the rats. Here are some photos of the most adorable research subjects, EVER!! These photos are from novel food introduction tests.   He has a treat (the green alfalfa cube in the lower right part of the frame) but he is getting into pre-nap posture. Hey, I’m [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Research Snapshots 3

The Urban Scientist

FAQ about #DNLeeLab research and African Giant Pouched Rats

African Giant Pouched Rat

I like sharing science with people; and that includes demystifying research by lifting the curtain and showing people the day-by-day stuff that my research project involves. Since I take to Twitter to give updates, quips, and yes wise-cracks, I tend to get a lot of questions – very good and interesting questions about what I [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: #DNLeeLab Research Snapshots 2

The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: #DNLeeLab Research Snapshots 1

The Urban Scientist

What’s this in my backyard? A Camel Cricket

camel cricket

Mid-day yesterday I got a text message from a friend’s daughter — off at school, living in an off-campus house — asking me about a little invader. Her: Do you know what this is? Me: Yes. A camel cricket. Her: it’s terrifying Me: Drama Her: There where a ton of them. Lol I voted to [...]

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