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: 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…

Sunday Sketch: Thumbless but not helpless

Most primates have opposable thumbs that that help them grasp and manipulate objects. However, the spider monkey, Ateles geoffroyi, is one exception in which their hands have no thumbs at all! Instead, spider monkeys have a specialized prehensile (grasping) tail that is hairless on its underside and has a fleshy pad that is unique to each monkey…

Sunday Sketch: Get Ready for Aardvark Week

Aardvarks, Orycteropusafer afer, are ant eaters but aren’t anteaters. In other words, Aardvarks in Africa do primarily feed on ants and termites but actually aren’t very closely related to their anteater counterparts in South America. Many of their similarities arise due to convergent evolution associated with their diets. Aardvarks use their long, sticky tongue to…

Sunday Sketch: Get ready for World Wildlife Day!

This Tuesday, March 3rd, is World Wildlife Day! The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 1, 12, 14, and 15 commit to preventing biodiversity loss by reducing poverty, promoting sustainable use of our planet’s resources, and conserving all plant and animal life on land and below the water. Join The Ethogram this Tuesday for a full…

Sunday Sketch: Child Labor

Like almost all activities in a social insect colony, nest building involves team work. Weaver ants, Camponotus (Myrmobrachys) senex, build elaborate nests made of stitched together leaves that are subdivided into small interconnected chambers. The work of tying these leaves together involves a surprising joint effort by both adults workers and larvae. Adult workers will carry individual…

Sunny Sketch: No Inkling of Ink

The dumbo octopus (genus Grimpoteuthis) is distinguished from its octopus brethren by its adorable ear-like fins that provide its namesake. However, there are also a few other characteristics that make this little creature unique. First of all, it is indeed a little creature compared to most other octopodes, with an average size of just 20-30…

Sunday Sketch: Birds of a feather

For most raptors, hunting is not a team sport. Harris’ hawks, however, play the game a bit differently. Although a few other raptors are known to hunt cooperatively, Harris’ hawks are by far the most cooperative and coordinated in their hunting behavior. They use many strategies for hunting that rely on coordinated maneuvers by each…

Sunday Sketch: Wiley as a Fox

Hunting is hard. Hunting in the snow? Even harder. A study on wild red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in the Czech Republic indicates that these cunning hunters have an additional weapon in their arsenal—magnetic sensation! The study showed that foxes strongly preferred to pounce on their prey by jumping in the direction facing magnetic north east….

Sunday Sketch: Between a rock and a hard place

Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) are one of the most common monkeys in southeast Asia. Some populations along the shore are found to use stones as tools to crack oysters, bivalves and various kinds of shellfish. This tool-related foraging technique is extremely rare among primates. The tool use behaviors are found only in some populations of monkey species in the same location despite sharing environmental…