Field Frame Friday: Solar powered skink!

The brown tree skink (Dasia grisea) shown here is catching some afternoon rays in the warm Malaysian sun. Since reptiles are cold-blooded animals, they capitalize on the energy of the sun to maintain an optimal body temperature (known as thermoregulation). [Photo and caption by Josie Hubbard] Cox, van Dijk, Nabhitabhata, Thirakhupt, 1998. A photographic Guide…

Field Frames Friday: There is always that one weird family member.

Rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis) may look like grumpy rodents with fangs, but did you know they are actually the closest land relative to elephants? Using fossil, morphological, neuronal, and molecular data, scientists have put rock hyraxes in the same clade (Paenungulata) as elephants and manatees. Hyraxes and elephants have similar foot structures and skulls, so…

Field Frame Friday: Free Bird!! (And captive birds)

In order to investigate Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) behavior, it is useful to study and compare flamingoes both in wild and captive settings. Captive zoo flamingoes are not just for marveling at and pondering how they can stand on one leg for so long, but they are also very useful for controlled experiments that lead to…

Field Frames Friday: Is this habitat too hot, too cold, or juuuuust right?

California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) choose their habitats based on having optimal thermoregulation (maintaining their body temperature). Some of their preferred habitat characteristics include large, flat rocks, lighter surfaces, and protected coastlines from wave action. These features allow California sea lions to easily perform thermoregulation behaviors such as basking on large flat surfaces (like the…

Field Frame Friday: Grazing or lazing

Beef cattle (bos taurus) display individual differences in grazing behavior on rangelands such as those in California. Even same-breed cattle can exhibit a variety of grazing patterns, such as traversing more terrain, traveling further from water, and climbing higher elevation than their fellow herdmates. [Photo by Nick Chudeau and caption by Maggie Creamer] References Bailey,…

Field Frame Friday: Chameleon coloration

While many people think that chameleon coloration serves only as camouflage, chameleons also change color to communicate with other chameleons. These color changes maximize communication between chameleons while minimizing the change of predation. [Photo and caption by Meredith Lutz] Reference Stuart-Fox, D., & Moussalli, A. (2008). Selection for social signalling drives the evolution of chameleon…

Field Frame Friday: How do you like your eggs?

Due to warmer temperatures, egg incubation in tropical birds presents a different set of challenges than temperate species. To regulate temperatures, lesser noddies (Anous tenuirostris) will rotate the egg around the nest every 50 minutes, and when ambient temperatures get above 30℃ (86 ℉) , parents will actually lift off of the egg, and depend…

Field Frames Friday: Lactation station

Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) in the Antarctic can lose up to 60% of their body weight during the nursing period. Researchers found that females will begin diving two weeks after giving birth to their pups and the amount of diving varied depending on the body mass of the mother. Thinner seals diving more often and…

Field Frame Friday: Heads or tails? TAILS!

Black-handed spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) don’t have thumbs, but what they do have is the most mobile and dextrous of all primate tails! The underside of the tail is covered with ridges that help them grip branches as they swing. [Photo by Grace Davis and caption by Maggie Creamer] Reference Mittermeier, R. A. (1978). Locomotion…