Sunday Sketch: Between a rock and a hard place

Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) are one of the most common monkeys in southeast Asia. Some populations along the shore are found to use stones as tools to crack oysters, bivalves and various kinds of shellfish. This tool-related foraging technique is extremely rare among primates. The tool use behaviors are found only in some populations of monkey species in the same location despite sharing environmental…

Field Frame Friday: Literal love birds!

Madagascar love birds are the smallest lovebirds and one of three sexually dimorphic (meaning males and females look different in size or color) lovebirds. Lovebirds got their names as they often sit in pairs preening each other’s feathers [Photo and caption by Meredith Lutz] Dubuc, R. G. Family Tree of the African Love Bird. AFA Watchbird, 5(1),…

Field Notes: PhD Research or Arts-n-Crafts Hour… Why Not Both?

When you’re in the business of making nearly a thousand clay caterpillars by hand, there are a few must-have investments: Spotify premium (for hours’ worth of podcasts), ludicrous amounts of alcohol wipes (to scrub your stubbornly ink-dyed hands), more Copic marker refills than you think you would ever need (so you don’t have to drive…

Sunday Sketch: Monkey See, Monkey Do

Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) are known for stealing food from tourists in several areas. Populations in Uluwatu temple, Indonesia are more advanced and steal valuables stuff such as phones, wallets, and glasses from tourists. They cannot consume those objects, but they wait for the temple staff to trade for them with fruits. This foraging techniques…

Field Frame Friday: Excuse me? May I park my infant here please?

Ruffed lemurs, like the black and white ruffed lemur pictured here (Varecia variegata editorum) exhibit a unique infant rearing strategy among primates. They give birth to litters of 2-3 altricial (meaning that they are rather helpless and not as developed at birth) babies in a nest. The babies stay in the nest while one adult…

Sunday Sketch: Horny Beetles

The horn of the giant rhinoceros beetle (Trypoxylus dichotomus) is a classic example of an elaborate trait that arises due to sexual selection. These beetles use their horns to fight over females and these fights get intense. So intense that males are able to break their horns off during vigorous fights with other males. Surprisingly,…

Field Frame Friday: Beware the hair!

It only takes one of these caterpillars to royally ruin a perfectly good field day. Caterpillars like these are covered in irritating hairs to avoid predation. However, if a human has an unexpected encounter with one, it can result in an uncomfortable skin rash that can last from minutes to hours. Thankfully I found this…

Sunday Sketch: Otter Pockets

In stark contrast to humans, otters have successfully achieved gender equality when it comes to pockets. Both female and male otters have baggy portions of loose skin under their forearms that they can use to store various items. These pockets are often used to store food for later, but are also home to rocks that…

Field Frame Friday: Eat Dirt!

Geophagy, or eating soil, is observed in a variety of folivorous (leaf-eating) primates, including diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema) in the Maromizaha Protected area. This behavior may help to protect against harmful chemicals found in the leaves that they consume. [Photo and caption by Meredith Lutz] Semel, B. P., Baden, A. L., Salisbury, R. L., McGee, E….

Sunday Sketch: Holy Halitosis, Spiderman!

Caterpillars of the tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta), as the name suggests, specialize on eating nicotine containing plants. Normally, nicotine is an effective plant defense against herbivores as it poisons various animals by interrupting neural mechanisms associated with muscle movement. Tobacco hornworms, however, can handle doses of nicotine that are lethal to herbivores that do not…