Creature Feature: American Horseshoe Crab

Move over dinosaurs, there is a cooler fossil in town! Meet the American horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus); don’t be fooled, it is neither a horse, nor a crab, but a close relative of spiders and scorpions (class: arachnids) [1][3]. These marine invertebrates are considered living fossils as their body structure, which has made them so…

Field Frame Friday: I’m sitting on what?!

Lesser Noddies (Anous tenuirostris), make their nest using leaves and their own guano (fancy word for poop). Waste not, want not? [Photo by Nick Chudeau in Cousin Island, Seychelles; Caption by Karli Chudeau] Reference Surman, C., Burbidge, A., & Fitzhardinge, J. (2016). Long-term population trends in the vulnerable Lesser Noddy Anous tenuirostris melanops at the…

Sunday Sketch: The Narwhal

Unlike mythical unicorns, the narwhal (Monodon monoceros) is real and most closely related to beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas)! However, that is not a horn on their head but a tooth that males (and some females) have. The functions of the narwhal tooth are still being researched, but it is suggested that it can be used…

Sunday Sketch: Right-Handed Sharks

Climate change alters many aspects of the ocean ecosystem, including how fish grow and develop. Recent research found that raising Port Jackson shark eggs (Heterodontus portusjacksoni) in warmer temperatures (based on those projected for end-of-century) led to increased mortality and, in those that survived, increased right-handedness!  Sketch and fact contributed by Karli Chudeau Vila Pouca, C.,…

Field Frame Friday: An island where birds rule all!

In the Seychelles, an island chain off the east coast of Africa, White-tailed tropicbirds (Phaethon lepturus) on Cousin Island don’t have the threat of predators so they nest on the ground in the hollows of trees or root nooks. This pair could care less how close humans were to them, but it is still important…

Sunday Sketch: Aphid Piggyback Rides

Recent research has found that much to the apparent dismay of adult aphids, young aphids jump on the backs of larger aphids to escape danger. Researchers proposed that this may be due to their small size. Traveling on the uneven ground terrain makes them more susceptible to predation, so hitching a ride on a larger…

Field Frame Friday: Perks of studying in your “own backyard”.

For some researchers, the field is considered to be far-off places around the world. For others the field is our local environment, such as the Marin Headlands just across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, California. It is always a bonus when the notorious coastal fog burns off and reveals stunning natural views. [Photo and…

Sunday Sketch: Sleep to Prevent Late-Night Cravings

Hummingbirds have high metabolic energy requirements, needing to eat 2-3x their own body weight in flower nectar and tiny insects each day. Unable to forage at night, but needing to maintain those demanding energy requirements, hummingbirds conserve energy by going into torpor. This physiological adaptation is a daily version of seasonal hibernation, and is a deep…

Field Frame Friday: Deep breath in!

Unlike human nostrils which remain open at all times, the relaxed nostril position for pinnipeds is in a closed position. Like this harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) they voluntarily open them when at the surface of the water to sniff or breathe. [Photo and caption by Karli Chudeau] Reference Berta, A., Sumich, J.L., & Kovacs, K.M….