Sunday Sketch: Aquatic Landscapers keep coral reefs tidy and thriving

Coral reefs & algae have a symbiotic relationship, where single-celled algae (called zoozanthellae) living inside corals provide energy to build the intricate calcium-carbonate structures that host an entire underwater ecosystem (for more on reef-building corals check out this Creature Feature). However, as with most things in life, too much of a good thing can turn bad; too…

Sunday Sketch: Shrimp Make Good Moms and Dads

Peppermint shrimp (Lysmata boggessi) are a common ornamental salt water aquarium invertebrate species beloved by many hobbyists for their bright candy cane stripes and lively behaviors. What most people don’t know is that these shrimp are considered protandric simultaneous hermaphrodites. When they first reach adulthood they have male reproductive organs, but as they get bigger they…

Sunday Sketch: Make me crabby and I’ll get jabby

Lybia edmondsoni, also known as the “boxer crab” or “pom pom crab”, employs a rather unique anti predator defense. With the aid of minute sea anemones in each claw, these crabs can attack oncoming predators by delivering a jab and electric shock. This relationship is mutualistic, meaning that the anemones get something in exchange for…

Sunday Sketch: Daddy Day Care

Titi monkeys (Callicebus cupreus) are studied not only for their monogamy, but also because fathers are actually the primary caretakers of the babies! Mothers will provide nourishment through nursing, but most of the time you’ll see the baby titi monkey clinging to their father for the first few months of their life. However, for families…

Sunday Sketch: Monarch Conservation

Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus), shown in caterpillar form above, are experiencing dramatic declines in population numbers. One method to help conserve species in decline is to rear and release captive individuals into the wild. Of course, this plan of action only works if captive-reared individuals are as capable as their wild counterparts. In a study…

Sunday Sketch: Lamprey Immunity

Suddenly we are all spending a lot more time thinking about our immune systems—but what about the immune systems of the animals around us? For a long time it was thought that only animals with jaws and vertebrates had lymphocytes, but research with sea lampreys suggests otherwise. Researchers found lymphocyte-like cells in the gut of these charming…

Sunday Sketch: Social Distancing

We are all adjusting to a new normal, but for some animals social distancing is a way of life. Take the slow loris for example. These guys are happiest hanging out at home by them selves. One study found that these guys only spend 3% of their time in association with other slow lorises and…

Sunday Sketch: International Day of the Seal!

Did you know that March 22 is the International Day of the Seal? Seals are a part of the phylogenetic suborder Pinnipedia that consist of seals, sea lions, and walruses. Seals (Family: Phocidae) live in both the northern and southern hemispheres of our planet, from the cold, polar regions of the arctic and antarctic, to the…