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…

Sunday Sketch: Cichlid Moms

“Fish are babies, not food!” Mother Astatotilapia burtoni cichlids may need to take a reminder from the sharks of Finding Nemo. These fish have an extreme form of maternal care. After laying their eggs, they carry them around in their mouths until they hatch! Protecting their eggs from all kinds of would-be predators comes at…

Sunday Sketch: Whistling Caterpillars

Many caterpillars have colorful and sometimes toxic defenses against predators, but the North American Walnut Sphinx caterpillar really knows how to startle a would-be attacker. These little guys produce high-pitched whistles that have birds diving away from them in confusion! Fact and sketch contributed by Amelia Munson Source: Bura, V. L., Rohwer, V. G., Martin, P….

Sunday Sketch: Rabbits and Food Preferences

*Sniff, sniff* “That’s my favorite!” Rabbits can transfer food preference information to their offspring during different stages of development. They can be exposed to the mother’s food preference in utero, through nursing, and through exposure to the mother’s poop that are in the nest!  Sketch and fact contributed by Karli Chudeau Bilko, A., Altbacker, V. &…

Sunday Sketch: The Dolphin Digestive Tract Debris Dilemma

A recent study found plastic debris in the digestive tracts of 50 dolphins, whales, and seals. Surprisingly, a large amount of the trash came from synthetic fibers (found in clothing, fishing nets, and toothbrushes), while the rest were from plastic fragments. Keep in mind that plastic pollution affects many other marine organisms, as well. Therefore,…

Sunday Sketch: Lacewing Trash-Packages

Why bother with camouflage when you can just play dress-up? The larvae of green lacewings (order Neuroptera) blend into their surroundings by attaching bits of debris to small, hook-like structures on their backs. These “trash-packages” can consist of plant matter, lichen, dirt, or even the dead bodies of their prey (aphids)!  Sketch and fact contributed…