Life Science

Friday Cephalopod: Beautiful babies

Weighing meal options

I just listened to a neat podcast from Scientific American’s Karen Hopkin in which she described a new study published in the Journal of Ornithology that suggests Mexican Jays (Aphelocoma ultramarina) pick which peanut to eat only after literally weighing their options. The researchers modified some peanuts to remove the contents. The Mexican Jays were then offered unmodified nuts along with the…

The NY Times has stirred up some controversy by recommending a novel flavor combination: guacamole made with peas. I must weigh in. Sounds delicious! Would love to try it!

Sadly, the second herpes virus-related death occurred after this story was released at the Albuquerque BioPark. The victim was a five-year old Asian elephant named Daizy. Source: The Scientist

Is it Shark Week again? I wouldn’t know, because their destructive and dishonest portrayals of these amazing animals was a major factor leading me to turn off the Discovery Channel and never watch it again. Read David Shiffman’s essay on the abuses of sharks, and join the rest of us in contributing to Discovery’s declining…

A new study conducted by researchers Eric Vaillancourt and Jean-Michel Weber at the University of Ottawa examined blood sugar regulation in a bird that specialize in long distance migration, the Canada goose (Branta canadensis, image above). As referenced in the study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, Canadian geese migrate approximately 7,000…

Especially if you’re a cuttlefish.

A transitional turtle, Pappochelys

Turtles are nifty animals, with a remarkable adaptation: they’ve taken their ribs and shifted them outside their appendicular skeleton, flattened and expanded them, and turned them into a shell. It’s a clever twist, and it doesn’t require any magic — just a shift in timing during development, with a little extra signaling. The molecular biology…

Nature’s camouflage

Could you imagine artificial skin capable of quickly changing colors to communicate or hide? Scientists have been testing ways to mimic the skin of cephalopods like squid, octopuses and cuttlefish, which have a remarkable ability to change skin color and sometimes even texture to mimic their surroundings. Cephalopods have networks of chromatophores, which are cells within…

Behold, the newly rediscovered Malatgan River caecilian. When my ankle acts up, I begin to think that maybe these critters were smarter than I am in jettisoning all those messy, complicated limbs.