Sunday Sketch: Aphid Piggyback Rides

Recent research has found that much to the apparent dismay of adult aphids, young aphids jump on the backs of larger aphids to escape danger. Researchers proposed that this may be due to their small size. Traveling on the uneven ground terrain makes them more susceptible to predation, so hitching a ride on a larger…

Field Frame Friday: Perks of studying in your “own backyard”.

For some researchers, the field is considered to be far-off places around the world. For others the field is our local environment, such as the Marin Headlands just across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, California. It is always a bonus when the notorious coastal fog burns off and reveals stunning natural views. [Photo and…

Creature Feature: Sonoran desert toad

When one imagines amphibians (animals that live between land and water), damp, dim scenes of swamps and rainforest floors come to mind. These creatures, that can breathe through their skin and begin life swimming in form of fish-like tadpoles, must constantly have access to water to live. Given this, it’s hard to envision a frog…

Sunday Sketch: Swallowtail Caterpillar

Swallowtail caterpillars are masters of mimicry and masquerade. While most swallowtails look convincingly like bird droppings at earlier instars (developmental stages), older caterpillars often develop a snakelike appearance to scare away predators. Their intimidating eyespots work in tandem with defensive behaviors (thorax inflation, rearing up, scent gland eversion) to create a compelling mimicry! Who knew…

Field Frame Friday: Lunch is served

Common murres (Uria aalge) dive to hunt for fish, and use their wings for both swimming underwater and flying in the air! [Photo by Alycia Drwencke and caption by Karli Chudeau] Reference Watanuki, Y & Katsufumi, S. (2008). Dive angle, swim speed and wing stroke during shallow and deep dives in Common Murres and Rhinoceros…

Sunday Sketch: Sleep to Prevent Late-Night Cravings

Hummingbirds have high metabolic energy requirements, needing to eat 2-3x their own body weight in flower nectar and tiny insects each day. Unable to forage at night, but needing to maintain those demanding energy requirements, hummingbirds conserve energy by going into torpor. This physiological adaptation is a daily version of seasonal hibernation, and is a deep…

Deep breath in!

Unlike human nostrils which remain open at all times, the relaxed nostril position for pinnipeds is in a closed position. Like this harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) they voluntarily open them when at the surface of the water to sniff or breathe. [Photo and caption by Karli Chudeau] Reference Berta, A., Sumich, J.L., & Kovacs, K.M….

Sunday Sketch: Yeti Crab

The abominable snowman has been found hanging out at the bottom of the ocean in the Antarctic! The Yeti crab (Kiwa hirsuta) was discovered in 2005 as a new genus and new species that hangs out near hydrothermal vents of the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge. Named for their very hairy claws, scientists speculate that these blind decapods…