Sunday Sketch: Gecko Toes

If you have ever been in the tropics and seen a gecko crawl effortlessly across your ceiling, you may have asked yourself, how do they do that? Contrary to popular belief, gecko toes aren’t sticky, but in fact utilize electromagnetic attraction between microscopic toe hairs called setae, and the fine contours of the walls and…

Chickens wear backpacks!

Whenever I tell people that I research chicken behavior and welfare, I usually receive two types of responses: 1) Raised eyebrows coupled with a disinterested “Huh… As long as it makes you happy, I guess” or 2) “So what kind of eggs should I be buying?” I prefer the latter, but I have to be…

Creature Feature: Greater racket-tailed Drongo

When exploring the forests of Asia, you may encounter some peculiar looking birds with forked tails who are singing whacky songs. Although they come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, the culprit of your curiosity could very well be a Drongo. Drongos are a family of birds that can be found from the Himalayan mountains…

Sunday Sketch: Marmoset Fathers

Even among nature’s best dads, some are better than others! Marmoset dads who respond to infant distress calls quickly and early in their offspring’s life are more likely to have offspring that survive beyond 30 days and are also more likely to gain weight quicker than babies of less attentive dads. Researchers indicate this comes…

Sunday Sketch: Soaring Albatross

With a majority of their lives spent soaring at sea, the Laysan albatross is a poster child for energy-efficient flight. Wings spanning up to 7 feet and the use of dynamic soaring allow albatrosses to fly for hours without flapping their wings. Dynamic soaring exploits wind shear, or the variation of wind velocity that occurs…

Field Notes: The secret lives of basking sharks

Basking sharks will break you. That’s an unfortunate lesson that’s been learned the hard way for centuries, among fishermen and researchers alike. It’s probably not for the reasons you imagine, because these are not your average sharks (although it is my duty as a shark biologist and conservationist to inform that you have more of…

Connections Matter: The Utility of Social Networks

Think back to your high school days, and the social interactions that come to play in the high school arena (scary and traumatic, I know, but just humor me here). Who did you find yourself making friends with? Were there clubs or sports teams that structured your friend groups? On a group level, were there…

Sunday Sketch: Big Horn Sheep

Bighorn sheep have double layered skulls to protect themselves during (literally) head-to-head combat. Their horns can weigh up to 14 kg (30 pounds!). Males fight battles with their heavy heads and horns, sometimes to the death, to win access to females. Now that’s a heavy concept! Sketch and fact contributed by Lea Pollack Source: Bighorn…

Enrichment is in the Eye of the Beholder

What is Enrichment? Animals have evolved and adapted to live in complex environments with a wide variety of engaging stimuli: diverse plants, other animals, sounds, smells, problem-solving scenarios, and dynamic space, just to name a few. The natural history of animals has resulted in the development of species-specific repertoires of highly motivated behaviors, which are…