Creature Feature: Fire Salamander

We’ve seen psychedelic reptiles on this blog before.  Surely, you may be thinking, the pool of psychedelic species is relatively limited. Not so fast!  Poisons are incredibly important for amphibian defense, so there tend to be lots of poisonous amphibians around.  And, for whatever reason, humans like to ingest these intended toxins to try and…

Creature Feature: Toxoplasma gondii

We’ve all heard the stereotype of the crazy cat person (usually lady) who really, really likes cats. So much so, that this person has a house teeming with felines, fur, and foul fish-flavored scent of cat food. It’s easy to tease friends for being at risk of becoming  “crazy cat people”. But what if these…

Sunday Sketch: Blue Jays and Ants

Do blue jays use ants as deodorant? It was once hypothesized that blue jays (and other jay species) would use the formic acid from ants to clean their feathers of parasites or as a form of chemosignalling. However, a study in Chemoecology tested this hypothesis by providing jays with ants with or without formic acid. Turns out…

Sunday Sketch: Llama Ovulation

Humans ovulate once a month during a normal hormonal cycle, regardless of how much action (or not) we get.  Llamas, however, have a much more efficient system. Did you know that male llamas can induce ovulation in females by copulating with them? This means that females llamas only ovulate when they’ve actually had sex! While…

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…