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…

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…