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: 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: 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: 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…