Sunday Sketch: Glow-In-The-Dark Pocket Shark

A new species of pocket shark (Mollisquama mississippiensis) that was found in the Gulf of Mexico has recently been classified. Pocket sharks get their name from the “pocket” glands behind their pectoral fins. The glands in glow-in-the-dark pocket sharks produce a bioluminescent fluid. Their bodies also generate light all over from bundles of glandular organs…

Sunday Sketch: Sneaky Cephalopods

Cephalopods, from squid to octopus, are masters of color – and the mourning cuttlefish (Sepia plangon) is no exception. Some male cuttlefish of this species selectively change color on each half of their body, allowing them to have female patterns on one side and male patterns on the other. They orient the “female” side toward…

Sunday Sketch: Blood Sharing Bats

As their name suggests, vampire bats need to consume blood often to stay alive. Female vampire bats roost in groups, and when some bats aren’t able to get a meal, others in the same group will regurgitate their own meals to share! Research revealed that females who shared meals with an extensive network of nonrelatives…

Sunday Sketch: Learning to pick your battles

Northern elephant seal harems (Mirounga angustirostris) are a cacophony of noises with males vocalizing at each other and occasionally getting into physical battles; what information is coded within those noises? Researchers at University of California, Santa Cruz used playback experiments (i.e. recording vocalizations and then playing the vocalizations back to other individuals) to discover that…

Sunday Sketch: Stinging Sea Jellies

Planning on swimming at the beach this summer? Learn some facts about sea jellies before you ask a friend to pee on a sting wound! Sea jellies have specialized cells called cnidocytes on their tentacles that contain structures called nematocysts. Nematocysts act like harpoons that deliver a venomous sting. Though people say that urine can…

Sunday Sketch: Thought Bubbles

Pacific and Atlantic herring (Clupea pallasii and Clupea harengus) are a large part of the commercial fishing industry and are thus well studied by scientists. However, nighttime sounds coming from the herring left scientists stumped, until video analysis revealed the herrings’ elusive communication style. Described aptly as Fast Repetitive Tick (or FRT), herring use digestive gas…

Sunday Sketch: Red Squirrel Rattles

Did you know that North American red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) announce territorial ownership by making vocalizations called rattles? Recently, a study found that short-term stress from capturing and handling squirrels affected acoustic structure of these vocalizations. This research reveals that rattles may also carry important information about squirrel physiological condition. Sketch contributed by Rachael Coon and…

Sunday Sketch: Kangaroo Farts

In the 1970s and 80s, researchers thought that kangaroos didn’t fart, or at least that they hardly emitted any methane gas. Methane is naturally created by the bacteria that lives inside an animal’s gut, helping them to digest plant materials. Early findings indicating that kangaroos emit little methane made scientists think that they had special…

Sunday Sketch: Purple Sea Urchins

Purple sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus), believe it or not, are actually closely related to humans as revealed by genomic sequencing.  Sea urchins, in general, have a range of lifespans, and purple sea urchins have one of the highest with a maximum of more than 50 years!  This makes sea urchins relevant for a variety of aging research.  …

Sunday Sketch: Flies and Stripes

For years, humans have postulated and told folktales to answer the question, “Why did zebras get their stripes?” Now scientists may have an answer: pest control! While the stripes may not deter biting flies from afar, researchers found that flies failed to make controlled landings on the zebra by either failing to decelerate and bumping…