Creature Feature: Sonoran desert toad

When one imagines amphibians (animals that live between land and water), damp, dim scenes of swamps and rainforest floors come to mind. These creatures, that can breathe through their skin and begin life swimming in form of fish-like tadpoles, must constantly have access to water to live. Given this, it’s hard to envision a frog…

Sunday Sketch: Kiwi dads

Did you know? Kiwi dads are excellent fathers! They alone incubate their one, giant egg each year for about 3 months on end (Taborsky & Taborksy 1999). Sketch and fact contributed by Victoria Farrar Source: Taborsky, B. and Taborsky, M. (1999). The mating system and stability of pairs in the kiwi Apteryx spp.  J. Avian…

Sunday Sketch: Opossum Nipples

Did you know that the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) has 13 nipples – 12 arranged in a circle with one in the middle?  They are also North America’s only marsupial. Spooky! Sketch and fact contributed by Victoria Farrar Source: Whitson, M. 2017. “Didelphis virginiana: Life History.” Accessed 10 October 2018, available from Encyclopedia of Life, http://eol.org/pages/328501

Creature Feature: Spotted sandpiper

Across the animal kingdom, it’s tough to be a mom.  Not all species exhibit parental care (or care about their young at all after the eggs are laid), but in those that do, usually the moms get stuck doing the bulk of the work.  In mammals, moms not only have to carry the baby in…

Creature Feature: Plainfin midshipman

Many males across the animal kingdom sing to attract a mate: birds are arguably the most famous, right behind adolescent human males; other notable examples include frogs,  humpback whales, and crickets. A fish likely didn’t even come to mind; yet, the plainfin midshipman (Porichthys notatus), an intertidal fish that inhabits the San Francisco bay, among other…

Creature Feature: Acorn Woodpecker

“It takes a village to raise a child”, goes the old proverb. The acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) seemingly takes this advice to heart.  This California native species fits well into the state’s ecological, and political, landscape.  These birds lead secret lives of free love and communal values, à la hippie communes of the 1960s and…

Field Fiasco: Adversity in the Arctic

Many field fiascos recount the terrors of tropical clines, from bugs frightening in both size and number, to the various forms “Rain” can take.  This week, our stories come from the opposite end of the earth: the snow-covered Arctic circle. Dr. Jesse Krause, a post-doctoral scholar in the lab of Dr. John Wingfield, has spent…

Creature Feature: Axolotl

Imagine a creature with translucent skin, a headdress made of feathery membranes that it uses to breathe underwater, elusive in its natural habitat of subterranean or cavern pools.  Sounds like science fiction, but fact is often stranger than fantasy. The axolotl, Ambystoma mexicanum, is a species of salamander originating in the cenotes of southern Mexico…