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Posts Tagged "animals"

The Artful Amoeba

Wonderful Things: The Giant Transparent Ribbons of Eel Larvae

ribbon_eel_larva_miller_et_al_2013

Author’s note: This is the latest post in the Wonderful Things series. You can read more about this series here. It is startling how different the larvae of fish can be from the adults that produced them, as I wrote in a blog post a few months ago. But even I was shocked by the [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Wonderful Things: The Starry Night Beneath the Caribbean Sea

ostracod_cypridinid_elliot_lowndes_200

One of the most astounding events of my life was immediately preceded by one of the scariest: I turned out my dive light in the ocean at night.

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The Artful Amoeba

Cosmic Karma: Mosquitoes Have Flying, Blood-Sucking Parasites of Their Own

midge_parasitic_mosquito

In 1922, a scientist named F.W. Edwards published a paper describing a remarkable thing: a flying, biting midge collected from the Malay Peninsula in southeast Asia that he named Culicoides anophelis. What made the midge was remarkable was the thing it bit: mosquitoes.

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The Artful Amoeba

Lone Survivor? Weird New Animal May Be Long Sought Living Ediacaran

dendrogramma_just_et_al_plos_one_200

It’s not every day a new animal is discovered that could shake up the roots of animal taxonomy and simultaneously form its own new phylum, the top classification in the Animal Kingdom, but today is such a day. The new animals – Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dengrogramma discoides – are not yet certain to represent a [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Giant, Ancient Chirping Pill-Millipedes of Madagascar: Irresistible

pill-millipede_Sphaeromimus_andrahomana_Wesener_et_al_2014_200

On the island of Madagascar lives a group of millipedes that can roll into balls as large as a small orange. Although that may seem alarming, they have no poison glands. They can, however, activate your cuteness sensors.

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The Artful Amoeba

Open Ocean Mama Squid Clings to Bundle of Squirming Bubble Wrap

squid_bubble_wrap_200

Bottom-dwelling squid and octopus usually attach their eggs to a hard surface, but open ocean squid have no such luxury. For many years, scientists thought such squid simply released their eggs to the whims of the currents. Recently, however, Stephanie Bush at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute discovered that the situation for some open ocean [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Funnel-Shaped Animals Invented Reefs Prior to Cambrian Explosion

Ediacaran reef Penny et al 2014 Fig 2 closeup_200

Scientists have long thought of the Cambrian Explosion 541 million years ago as the flowering of complex life on Earth. Strangely shaped, large soft-bodied organisms were known to have lived in the period just prior — the Ediacaran — but they made few hard parts and scientists have debated whether any or how many were [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Spiny Baby Sea Bass Illustrates Surprising Physiques of Young Fish

liopropoma_olneyi_juvenile_Baldwin_&_Johnson_2014_200

Among divers and marine biologists, it’s common knowledge that ocean fish lead double lives. Like birds and butterflies, their young often look nothing like the adults, but unlike birds and butterflies, it is the young that are often more beautiful and ornate than their parents. I think this bit of natural history remains largely unknown [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

In Honor of Linnaeus, a Rogue’s Gallery of New Species

Penicillium_vanorenjei_colonies_Cobus_M_Visagie_200

Today is the birthday of one of my science heroes: Carl Linnaeus. Born on May 23, 1707, the Swede turned natural history from a hobby into a science with his masterful systemization and documentation of what had until then been haphazard classification of plants, animals and fungi. In honor of Linnaeus, the International Institute for [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Frog-Killing Fungus Meets Its Match in Hidden World of Tiny Predators

micropredators_glowing_Schmeller_et_al_2014_200

As I reported in a feature story in Scientific American last December , some fungi have been behaving badly of late, attacking bats, plants, amphibians, reptiles, and people with gusto, driving many species to extinction and others to the brink. It’s all quite depressing. But today in Scientific American online I report some good news: [...]

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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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Expeditions

Neutrinos on Ice: Waiting to Fly

ANITA rolling out to the launchpad. (Katie Mulrey)

It’s another beautiful day in Antarctica, and the time has come to launch ANITA! Finding the right date is tricky. Many factors have to fall into place. In order to detect neutrinos and cosmic rays, we want to fly over the Eastern ice sheet in Antarctica. We detect these particles via their radio emission. The [...]

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Expeditions

The Lawson Trek: Paddling the Intracoastal Waterway

Lunch on an oyster shoal after a surprisingly easy first morning of paddling. (It got harder.)

We stopped for lunch during the first day of the Lawson Trek on an oyster shoal, an uncharacteristically hot October sun stinging my shoulders, but surprisingly unbothered by four hours of kayak paddling. We had crossed Charleston Harbor against the current — the tide was coming in, whereas we were heading offshore. From the Charleston [...]

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Expeditions

Call of the Orangutan: A Camera Trap Menagerie

elephants 1

In order to get more information about the forest here at the Sikundur research station in North Sumatra, I’ve set up four camera traps, which I’m using to get a better look at the wildlife around the site. The traps have been so successful in such a short time period that together with another graduate [...]

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Expeditions

The Lawson Trek: Finding Something New

Either this is the only existing portrait of John Lawson or there isn’t one. It’s the right time period, the right attitude, the right name, and the right artist, but questions remain (for example, Lawson was never knighted, but the portrait’s history identifies him as “sir”).  Source: From the private collection of Elizabeth Sparrow. Used by kind permission.

Editor’s note: For The Lawson Trek, journalist Scott Huler is retracing the journey of discovery undertaken by canoe and on foot in 1700-1701 by John Lawson, the first observer to carefully describe and catalogue the flora, fauna, geography and inhabitants of the Carolinas. For all the posts in the series, click here. We cannot get [...]

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Expeditions

Call of the Orangutan: Welcome to Camp

The research camp centers around a cabin built by Leuser International Foundation that was renovated in 2013

It’s taken a bit longer than I’d initially anticipated, but I’m finally at my first field site, Sikundur in North Sumatra, which will be my home for the next eight months. The research and monitoring station is located in the east of the spectacular Gunung Leuser National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, which is [...]

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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

Let’s Expand Terrestrial Parks into the Ocean

A southern elephant seal colony on Argentina’s Patagonia coast. Argentina has for several years been expanding a number of its coastal protected parks for penguins, sea lions and elephant seals to the limits of its territorial sea. (Credit: Cristián Samper/WCS)

“A land ethic,” the great naturalist writer Aldo Leopold observed toward the end of his famous Sand County Almanac, “reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of land.” This philosophy of care for the earth’s ecosystems and species provides one of the [...]

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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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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

7 Surprising Things Penguins of Madagascar Gets Right about Octopuses—and 4 It Gets Wrong

octopus dave

It’s not very often that a movie comes out that features an octopus as one of the main (speaking) characters. (And they only occasionally become the star of a video game.) So if you wouldn’t mind indulging me for a brief detour into animation territory, let’s see what Hollywood gets right (and wrong) about this [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Soft Octopus Escape—and Paperback Octopus! Release [Video]

octopus book paperback

Octopuses long ago shed their ancestors’ protective shells in favor of a slinkier, floppier, softer existence. They were perhaps never meant to be held down by hard covers. In fact, many scientists credit this unlikely evolution for their wily intelligence. That is why I am extra excited for the publication of Octopus! The Most Mysterious [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Mistaken Octopus Sex Identity Leads to Multi-Armed Wrestling Match [Video]

The octopus, by in large, practices very safe sex. You would, too, if you and the object of your affection were both cannibals. But the algae octopus (Abdopus aculeatus) has developed a relatively sophisticated mating system that involves far more close contact than many other octopus species. In populations of these cephalopods, males and females [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

New Octopus Disguise Material for the Human World [Video]

It’s no doubt that, with a repertoire of everything from colorful coral to a poisonous sea snake, the octopus could win any costume contest handily. But while most of us are picking our way through fake fangs and unnecessarily revealing outfits, one team of researchers is working to bring the octopus’s camouflaging skills to the [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Is Smell the Key to an Octopus’s Heart?

We know that octopuses have awesome visual systems and super-sensitive suckers. We have even learned that they can hear. But little scientific attention has been paid to their sense of smell. And new research suggests that the octopus’s olfactory system could play a strong role in the octopus’s life cycle—especially when it comes to mating. [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

First Common Octopus Cannibalism Filmed in the Wild [Video]

octopus cannibalism

Perhaps it’s time we stopped feeling quite so bad about eating octopus. Octopuses dine on other octopuses, too. And for the first time, that behavior has been caught on video in the common octopus in the wild—three times. Cannibalistic behavior in the lab setting is well known. This is one of the reasons octopuses can be so [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Wireless Robot Octopus Swims with the Fishes [Video]

octopus robot swim

Robot octopuses can already walk, jet along and even grasp tools. But new advances have these machines swimming faster than ever. And thanks to the addition of soft, fleshy webs, they’re starting to look—and move—much more like the real thing, too. In fact, the latest octopus robot has already been for a successful swim—alongside real [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

8 Great Octopus Videos! [Video]

It’s Octopus Chronicles‘ 88th post! To celebrate, I’ve gone on an all-arms hunt through the deep crevasses of the internet to find eight of my favorite octopus videos. Some are old classics (such as Roger Hanlon‘s amazing, reverse-vanishing octopus) and others are new and stunning—and one even features an octopus walking (slithering?) on land. Really, [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Will Climate Change Bring an Invasion of the Octopuses—Or Halt It?

Climate change is bad news for many species. Environments are changing more rapidly than plants and animals can adapt to—or move out of—them. Octopuses, however, reproduce so quickly (and multitudinously) and have such short generation times, they are generally well primed to adapt and move.  The common Sydney octopus (Octopus tetricus), for one, is expanding [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Common Octopus Proves Uncommonly Difficult to Define

The seemingly ubiquitous common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) is our platonic octopus ideal. Even if Plato didn’t write about it, Aristotle did. And since then, it has been the most widely studied (and consumed) species. But contemporary science is complicating things, a new paper, published this month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, details. The [...]

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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

Urban Science Adventure: Snake spotting

Garter Snake photo by DNLee

Originally posted at Urban Science Adventures! © on November 2, 2010 as Snakes up close. I’ve got to make a confession. I really don’t give reptile (or amphibians) their just due. I’m a mammalogist, true and through. But I’m also an opportunist, which is why I feature so many plants, flowers, and trees in my [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Urban Science Adventure: Be on the look out for squirrels and dreys

from-the-archives

This post was originally published at Urban Science Adventures! © on January 23, 2009 as Urban Wildlife Watch: Squirrels and Dreys. ************************* Squirrels are rodents, so that means they are cousins to chipmunks, mice, rats, voles, and beavers. They are members of the Sciuridae family, which means ‘bushy tail’ and is a perfect way to [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Urban Science Adventure: Eye Spy Dragonflies!

DNLee holding dragon fly

Have you seen a large beautiful flying insect hovering nearby? I mean glorious and sparkly greens and golds or black and blues, maybe with a little touch of yellow or violet. If you live by water, or know where a nice creek, pond, or lake is, you just may see dragonflies!  Dragonflies are beautiful creatures [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Research Snapshots 8 – taking measurements

Young female pouched rat getting her anogenital distance measured

Research snaphots from what’s active on my desk right now. Yes, this is what has my attention these days – anogenital distances, AGD. Simple basic physical measures of anatomy of AGD can tell scientists a lot of important information about a species. In most mammaliam species AGD is a dimorphic – meaning different in size [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Urban Science Adventure: Catching and Watching Fireflies

firefly lightening bug

What do you see when you go into your backyard in the evening time?  Most people don’t even think about being outside at that time until the warm rays of summer touch their skins.  Summer nights mean warm nights where you can be outside until dusk and beyond and see the wonders that Mother Nature [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Making Panyabuuku Plans

Cricetomys ansorgei African Giant pouched rat in a pot

I’m in planning mode for my return trip to Tanzania to study African Giant Pouched Rats, Cricetomys ansorgei This is what I spend a good portion of my time doing, live-trapping and capturing pouched rats, called panyabuuku, in the wild. This is what I actually have in store for me – literally! A large pile [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: I study the most adorable species in the world – Pouched Rats

African Giant Pouched Rat Cricetomys ansorgei in trap looking adorable and eating banana 2

We can’t all study the most adorable, photogenic rat ever known, so I generously share all of the cuteness with you. Pouched Rats – the most adorable little beasties!

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The Urban Scientist

Urban Science Adventure: 100+ things to do outside

Me holding a Fowler's toad

It’s summer. The kids are out of school. You want to keep them engaged and active. Most parents also want to keep them on track academically, but not necessarily with a strong hand approach to learning. I get it. Cultivating some old-fashioned out of doors play and reflection time is just what this doctor recommends. [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Sleeping Beauty

See those stuffed cheeks

Still bringing you Pouched Rat adorableness. Video recorded by M Sellers.

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Pouched Rat Tasty Treats

African Giant Pouched Rat Research #DNLeeLab Cricetomys ansorgei African Pouched Rat eating an alfalfa cube

I’m sure this translates to Om Nom Nom!

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