Sunday Sketch: Big Horn Sheep

Bighorn sheep have double layered skulls to protect themselves during (literally) head-to-head combat. Their horns can weigh up to 14 kg (30 pounds!). Males fight battles with their heavy heads and horns, sometimes to the death, to win access to females. Now that’s a heavy concept! Sketch and fact contributed by Lea Pollack Source: Bighorn…

Sunday Sketch: Dung Beetle Navigation

In addition to birds, seals, and humans, the nocturnal dung beetle (Scarabaeus satyrus) uses the stars as orientation and navigational cues. The dung beetles may not be able to discriminate between individual stars, but can use clumps of bright stars and the Milky Way for nocturnal migration. Sketch and fact contributed by Karli Chudeau Source: Dacke,…

Sunday Sketch: Anemone Piggyback

Did you know that some animals get by with a little help from their “friends”? Certain species of marine hermit crabs have a symbiotic relationship with sea anemones, meaning they mutually use each other for their own benefit. Riding along the hermit crab shell, sea anemones get the opportunity to be mobile and have more…

Sunday Sketch: Harbor Seal

While our facial whiskers have little tactile functionality, harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) whiskers, or vibrissae, have comparable sensitivity to human hands! Just as we use our hands to explore our environment, pinnipeds use their vibrissae to gather environmental information both above and below water. Harbor seals can discriminate different surfaces and shapes of objects as…

Sunday Sketch: Parrot Fish

As a kid, would you hide under your blanket to avoid monsters lurking in your closet? Well, many Chlorurus genera of parrotfish, such as the Bullethead Parrotfish (Chlorurus spilurus), not only hide from predators, but make the blanket that they hide under! They will find a nook in the coral reef in the evening and…

Sunday Sketch: Sea Squirts

Did you know that humans are related to sea squirts? Although you may not see the family resemblance, sea squirts (class Ascidians), are members of the phylum Chordata, which include all animals with a spinal cord (e.g. birds, fish, reptiles, and humans). However, unlike typical chordates, sea squirts only have their spinal cord and a…

Sunday Sketch: Ape Tails

Did you know that an infant #chimpanzee has a white tail tuft until it is about 3 years old? Gorilla infants have this white patch on their rumps too! It is still unclear exactly why these great apes would need this derrière protective peace flag as infants, although evolutionary theory has suggested that it might…

Sunday Sketch: Ostrich Roar

Did you know? Similar to the tigers and lions, male ostriches can roar! This throaty roar is elicited during territorial encounters and is likely used to defend potential mates from intruders. Sketch contributed by Allison Lau Source: Bolwig, N. (1973). Agonistic and sexual behavior of the African Ostrich (Struthio camelus). The Condor, 75(1), 100-105.

Sunday Sketch: Whale Hearts

Unlike the urban legend that states a Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) heart is the size of a small car, their hearts are actually about 400 pounds (181 kilograms), or the size of a small golf cart. New research suggests that the proportion of heart size to body size can vary in mammals depending on their…

Sunday Sketch: Wombat Poo

Did you know that wombats (Vombatus ursinus) have cube-shaped poop? No, this is not a result of a square sphincter, but a slow digestive process that takes up to 14 days! A wombat’s intestine has horizontal ridges which molds the fecal matter into a cube shape, and then as most nutrients and water are absorbed,…