Nature’s One and Only Iridescent Mammal: The Golden MoleGolden Moles (Family: Chrysochloridae) are not true moles, but rather have converged evolutionarily on a similar body plan. Like other true moles the desert varieties of golden mole also don’t construct burrows but rather appear to “swim” through sand. Another interesting fact is that they’ve also evolved such efficient kidneys that most species don’t need to drink water. These African natives are also the only known mammal to display iridescence despite being blind. So what really is the point to this fellow’s lustrous fur? It seems this is simply a quirk of the mole’s hair and doesn’t directly convey any advantage. The hairs themselves were found to be flattened with alternating scales of light and dark, this both gives the hairs a greater surface area to reflect light and the scale colouration refracted light just like oil on water. The actual reason for this structure is thought to be that it helps to repel dirt and water whilst also making the mole more streamlined. Regardless of what the reason is I really want a shiny, blind mole.

Nature’s One and Only Iridescent Mammal: The Golden Mole

Golden Moles (Family: Chrysochloridae) are not true moles, but rather have converged evolutionarily on a similar body plan. Like other true moles the desert varieties of golden mole also don’t construct burrows but rather appear to “swim” through sand. Another interesting fact is that they’ve also evolved such efficient kidneys that most species don’t need to drink water. These African natives are also the only known mammal to display iridescence despite being blind. So what really is the point to this fellow’s lustrous fur? It seems this is simply a quirk of the mole’s hair and doesn’t directly convey any advantage. The hairs themselves were found to be flattened with alternating scales of light and dark, this both gives the hairs a greater surface area to reflect light and the scale colouration refracted light just like oil on water. The actual reason for this structure is thought to be that it helps to repel dirt and water whilst also making the mole more streamlined. Regardless of what the reason is I really want a shiny, blind mole.

Mammoths V2.0Finally! Okay so I’ve grown up hearing about the possibility of cloning mammoths so this is exciting news. Two teams in Japan and Russia have finally taken the plunge and decided to attempt to clone a mammoth using an elephant egg injected with mammoth DNA. One of the major problems with cloning mammoths is finding the DNA (that isn’t to say it is the only problem), but thankfully we may now have some from the thigh bone of a dead mammoth found in Siberia. The teams are projected to have a baby mammoth by 2017, the first in nearly 10,000 years. Still let’s not get our hopes up, it’s a long way yet and certainly a difficult challenge.

Mammoths V2.0

Finally! Okay so I’ve grown up hearing about the possibility of cloning mammoths so this is exciting news. Two teams in Japan and Russia have finally taken the plunge and decided to attempt to clone a mammoth using an elephant egg injected with mammoth DNA. One of the major problems with cloning mammoths is finding the DNA (that isn’t to say it is the only problem), but thankfully we may now have some from the thigh bone of a dead mammoth found in Siberia. The teams are projected to have a baby mammoth by 2017, the first in nearly 10,000 years. Still let’s not get our hopes up, it’s a long way yet and certainly a difficult challenge.

Through the Eyes of a ButterflyThis image is part of the Princeton University Art of Science competition and has been generated to show what a Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly looks like through the compound eyes of one of it’s own at varying distances ranging from 7 cm (bottom left) to 4.3 metres (top left). Courtship rituals typically occurring with the butterflies 18 cms apart which corresponds to the top right image.

Through the Eyes of a Butterfly

This image is part of the Princeton University Art of Science competition and has been generated to show what a Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly looks like through the compound eyes of one of it’s own at varying distances ranging from 7 cm (bottom left) to 4.3 metres (top left). Courtship rituals typically occurring with the butterflies 18 cms apart which corresponds to the top right image.

biomedicalephemera:

Elephant Skeleton
Check out that big hole in the front of the head! It’s not an eye socket - that’s the nasal passage, where the trunk attaches. It’s thought that elephant skulls found near ancient Greece inspired the myth of the Cyclops race.
A Series of Engravings Representing the Human Skeleton. John Barclay, 1820.

 One of my favorite facts about elephants. It also helps there used to be a species of elephant that used to live on Cyprus.

biomedicalephemera:

Elephant Skeleton

Check out that big hole in the front of the head! It’s not an eye socket - that’s the nasal passage, where the trunk attaches. It’s thought that elephant skulls found near ancient Greece inspired the myth of the Cyclops race.

A Series of Engravings Representing the Human Skeleton. John Barclay, 1820.

 One of my favorite facts about elephants. It also helps there used to be a species of elephant that used to live on Cyprus.

Warning: the following is incredibly awesome.The above picture shows a Cuban nectar bat and a bizarrely shaped flower. The shape of this flower has evolved to allow an extraordinary way of attracting bats to work as pollinators. It’s a well known fact that flowers often have special UV patterns that bees can see and this flower works on a similar way. The concave shape in fact works like a satellite dish and interferes with the sonic waves used by the bat. This not only gives a 100 degree angle of reflection of the waves (as opposed to the mere 5 degree distribution of other plants) but also modulates the shape of the sound wave to give a unique “sound” which is almost like an echo.

Warning: the following is incredibly awesome.

The above picture shows a Cuban nectar bat and a bizarrely shaped flower. The shape of this flower has evolved to allow an extraordinary way of attracting bats to work as pollinators. It’s a well known fact that flowers often have special UV patterns that bees can see and this flower works on a similar way. The concave shape in fact works like a satellite dish and interferes with the sonic waves used by the bat. This not only gives a 100 degree angle of reflection of the waves (as opposed to the mere 5 degree distribution of other plants) but also modulates the shape of the sound wave to give a unique “sound” which is almost like an echo.

It’s well know that genes can spread between different bacterium in the process known as horizontal gene transfer or bacterial conjugation. These genes can convey a variety of traits most notably resistance to antibiotics. In a way this is a form of fast forwarding evolution in a single species and now for one of the first times there is an example of gene transferral between two separate species of mammals. Of course not by horizontal gene transfer but by interbreeding. The European House mouse has a chunk of “stolen” DNA originally from the Algerian mouse and while this may not seem particularly stand out as interbreeding happens relatively often the fact is these two species of mice and more different from each other than humans are from chimps. The fact is that the mice with chunks of the poison resistant gene from Algerian mice are not hybrids of the two species but are still European House mice. It’s also worth taking into consideration that the poison that this gene conveys resistance to only came on the market 50 or so years ago.

It’s well know that genes can spread between different bacterium in the process known as horizontal gene transfer or bacterial conjugation. These genes can convey a variety of traits most notably resistance to antibiotics. In a way this is a form of fast forwarding evolution in a single species and now for one of the first times there is an example of gene transferral between two separate species of mammals. Of course not by horizontal gene transfer but by interbreeding. The European House mouse has a chunk of “stolen” DNA originally from the Algerian mouse and while this may not seem particularly stand out as interbreeding happens relatively often the fact is these two species of mice and more different from each other than humans are from chimps. The fact is that the mice with chunks of the poison resistant gene from Algerian mice are not hybrids of the two species but are still European House mice. It’s also worth taking into consideration that the poison that this gene conveys resistance to only came on the market 50 or so years ago.

Dyeing fish and making them transparent seems to be all the rage these days. So here’s a cool picture of a frog that’s undergone the same treatment. The treatment itself consists of staining bones and cartilage and then using enzymes to render the actual flesh transparent but not actually removing it.

Dyeing fish and making them transparent seems to be all the rage these days. So here’s a cool picture of a frog that’s undergone the same treatment. The treatment itself consists of staining bones and cartilage and then using enzymes to render the actual flesh transparent but not actually removing it.

lovefornature:

The dugong is a large marine mammal which, together with the manatees, is one of four living species of the order Sirenia. It is also the only sirenian in its range, which spans the waters of at least 37 countries throughout the Indo-Pacific, though the majority of dugongs live in the northern waters of Australia between Shark Bay and Moreton Bay.
The dugong is heavily dependent on seagrasses for subsistence and is thus restricted to the coastal habitats where they grow, with the largest dugong concentrations typically occurring in wide, shallow, protected areas such as bays, mangrove channels and the lee sides of large inshore islands. Its snout is sharply downturned, an adaptation for grazing and uprooting benthic seagrasses.
The dugong has been hunted for thousands of years for its meat and oil, although dugong hunting also has great cultural significance throughout its range. The dugong’s current distribution is reduced and disjunct, and many populations are close to extinction. The IUCN lists the dugong as a species vulnerable to extinction, while the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species limits or bans the trade of derived products based on the population involved. Despite being legally protected in many countries throughout their range, the main causes of population decline remain anthropogenic and include hunting, habitat degradation, and fishing-related fatalities.
With its long lifespan of 70 years or more, and slow rate of reproduction, the dugong is especially vulnerable to these types of exploitation.Dugongs are also threatened by storms, parasites, and their natural predators, sharks, killer whales, and crocodiles.

lovefornature:

The dugong is a large marine mammal which, together with the manatees, is one of four living species of the order Sirenia. It is also the only sirenian in its range, which spans the waters of at least 37 countries throughout the Indo-Pacific, though the majority of dugongs live in the northern waters of Australia between Shark Bay and Moreton Bay.

The dugong is heavily dependent on seagrasses for subsistence and is thus restricted to the coastal habitats where they grow, with the largest dugong concentrations typically occurring in wide, shallow, protected areas such as bays, mangrove channels and the lee sides of large inshore islands. Its snout is sharply downturned, an adaptation for grazing and uprooting benthic seagrasses.

The dugong has been hunted for thousands of years for its meat and oil, although dugong hunting also has great cultural significance throughout its range. The dugong’s current distribution is reduced and disjunct, and many populations are close to extinction. The IUCN lists the dugong as a species vulnerable to extinction, while the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species limits or bans the trade of derived products based on the population involved. Despite being legally protected in many countries throughout their range, the main causes of population decline remain anthropogenic and include hunting, habitat degradation, and fishing-related fatalities.

With its long lifespan of 70 years or more, and slow rate of reproduction, the dugong is especially vulnerable to these types of exploitation.Dugongs are also threatened by storms, parasites, and their natural predators, sharks, killer whales, and crocodiles.

(via ocean-ology)

creepicrawlies:

The Echidna is one of two egg-laying mammals in the world (the other is the famous duck-billed platypus). Though it looks a big hedgehog-like, this spiky creature is shy and non-confrontational. The echidna has a long, moist snout and an even longer tongue which it uses to feast on termites. It has no teeth, so it has to “chew” termites by crushing them between its tongue and mouth cavity. There are actually 4 species of echidna, and along with the platypus, they are the only monotremes. More on that in a moment.
via webecoist

 Also worth noting this is a prime example of convergent evolution when compared to hedgehogs or porcupines.

creepicrawlies:

The Echidna is one of two egg-laying mammals in the world (the other is the famous duck-billed platypus). Though it looks a big hedgehog-like, this spiky creature is shy and non-confrontational. The echidna has a long, moist snout and an even longer tongue which it uses to feast on termites. It has no teeth, so it has to “chew” termites by crushing them between its tongue and mouth cavity. There are actually 4 species of echidna, and along with the platypus, they are the only monotremes. More on that in a moment.

via webecoist

 Also worth noting this is a prime example of convergent evolution when compared to hedgehogs or porcupines.

(via blood-and-chalk)

Showing that the ocean isn’t all spiny terror we have the adorably named sea mouse. Despite the hairy protrusions this fella is really a polychaete worm. The really cool thing about it is the iridescent hairs that line it’s sides. These usually shine red due to interactions with light, but when struck perpendicularly shine green and blue. These hairs are made up of photonic crystals similar to opal.

Showing that the ocean isn’t all spiny terror we have the adorably named sea mouse. Despite the hairy protrusions this fella is really a polychaete worm. The really cool thing about it is the iridescent hairs that line it’s sides. These usually shine red due to interactions with light, but when struck perpendicularly shine green and blue. These hairs are made up of photonic crystals similar to opal.

The water boatman is a surprisingly interesting creature. Many of you may be familiar with it as those little things that breast stroke their way through, or across the surface, of water. The really cool thing about these fellas is that at 2.3 millimeters they have the loudest song to body size of any creature. So how do they do this? With their genitals. To produce this sound they use whatever appendage of procreation they have  and rub it against ridges on their body. This sound is about 99.2 decibels, about the level you’d expect from the front row of an orchestra. For comparison the sperm whale, considered the loudest animal on the planet, sings at about 236 decibels.

The water boatman is a surprisingly interesting creature. Many of you may be familiar with it as those little things that breast stroke their way through, or across the surface, of water. The really cool thing about these fellas is that at 2.3 millimeters they have the loudest song to body size of any creature. So how do they do this? With their genitals. To produce this sound they use whatever appendage of procreation they have  and rub it against ridges on their body. This sound is about 99.2 decibels, about the level you’d expect from the front row of an orchestra. For comparison the sperm whale, considered the loudest animal on the planet, sings at about 236 decibels.

Saw this, thought it was cute, thought I’d share a fact about this thing so that it fits in with the rest of my blog.For the majority of the year (if this is an area not permanently covered in snow) this wee mustelid is in fact brown in color and it’s fur only changes to white for the winter months.

Saw this, thought it was cute, thought I’d share a fact about this thing so that it fits in with the rest of my blog.

For the majority of the year (if this is an area not permanently covered in snow) this wee mustelid is in fact brown in color and it’s fur only changes to white for the winter months.

(Source: letmetastey0u, via kauniita-unia)