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The Artful Amoeba

The Artful Amoeba

A Blog About the Weird Wonderfulness of Life on Earth

The Sciences

Mystery of Alaskan "Goo" Rust Solved at Last

Light, sweet, orange goo crude. Last fall the small Alaskan coastal village of Kivalina was inundated by a mysterious orange "goo"(click for photo). Locals and others suspected a toxic algal bloom (see here for image), or perhaps some sort of chemical release, or millions of microscopic "crustacean eggs".Yet just a month later the mystery substance was identified as none other than a plant-parasitic fungus called a rust -- completely harmless to humans and aquatic life, and probably not bad plankton food...

February 29, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer

TGIF: Snails that Fly, or, the Potato Chips of the Ocean

On land, snails and slugs -- the Gastropods -- are confined to terrestrial prison, but in the ocean, they are free to shed their shells and fly. These are the sea angels, the sea butterflies, and the sea elephants -- and probably quite a few more I'm not aware of.For instance, this slinky and mysterious creature is a heteropod ("different foot"), or sea elephant: It's called a sea elephant because of that sausage-esque proboscis it holds aloft...

February 17, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer
The Sciences

The Wild Life of My Doorsill

When I was in North Carolina last month for the meet-and-greet-and-learn-exhausto-freneti-thon of ScienceOnline 2012, I procured for myself a sampling kit for a citizen science project being conducted by the lab of Rob Dunn, Sci Am Guest Blogger and author of the wonderful book The Wild Life of our Bodies.He's doing a new study called "The Wild Life of Our Homes", and for the low, low price of nothing*, I got a sampling kit with two neato dual-pronged sterile Q-tips, instructions, a questionnaire about the characteristics of my pad, and a mailing address to send it back to...

February 10, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer

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