Things I Learned as a Field Biologist #129

evopropinquitous:

When studying monkeys in a reserve solely maintained for the purpose of protecting the insanely high endemic biodiversity and number of wasps and bees living therein (because, yes, such things exist), the ways in which one may be stung are infinite in their variety.  These include:

1) While literally running after monkeys down a hill so steep you’re doing that frak-my-legs-can’t-catch-up-with-my-momentum kind of run.  You’re mainly concerned with dodging trees (as you very well should be), but you should also watch out for the three wasp nests you’ll hit on the way down. At face level. It is the wet season, after all.  

8 stings.  Mainly on the face and arms.

2) While slowly, deliberately crossing a river on precarious stones, until the monkeys attack the fire wasp nest 20 meters above your head. And then continuously inside your shirt and hair as you run alongside the river. And then STILL in your hair even though you’re completely submerged in said river, because you really should have worn a hat today, stupid. It is the dry season, after all.  

23 stings.  Mainly on the scalp and neck, but also on your torso and arms.

3) While cleaning the trail with your machete.  DO NOT INSTINCTIVELY SWAT IT AWAY WITH YOUR MACHETE.

1 sting.  On the upper lip.  And a really close call with that machete, you ass.

4) While just standing there, minding your own business.  And you’d better run this time, because these particular bees are Africanized.  And they’ll follow you for a kilometer.  And they won’t stop stinging.  And the buzzing is terrifying and low.  And this can happen every day because the killer bees interbred with the local bee farmers’ hives.  Because invasive species are life ruiners.

14 stings.  Mainly on the face, neck, and hands.  But that’s pretty lucky, because your field partner got 78 and had to go to the hospital.

So if you’re studying monkeys in a reserve solely maintained for the purpose of protecting the insanely high endemic biodiversity and number of wasps and bees living therein, and you hear a buzz, don’t just stand there…


Run.

this is fantastic and also terrifying.

57 notes

fat-birds:

fuckyeahpigeon:

How many pigeons does it take to use a drinking fountain? In Brisbane, Australia, apparently the answer is three! Earlier this month, a trio of industrious birds Down Under figured out how to operate a water fountain by observing humans and then making their move when the coast was clear. The feathered friends reportedly spent 10 minutes bathing and sipping from the fountain, taking turns pushing the lever for each other until all were quenched. Who are you calling a birdbrain now?

uhmazing.

pigeons are ridiculously smart.  They are also art critics. 

fat-birds:

fuckyeahpigeon:

How many pigeons does it take to use a drinking fountain? In Brisbane, Australia, apparently the answer is three! Earlier this month, a trio of industrious birds Down Under figured out how to operate a water fountain by observing humans and then making their move when the coast was clear. The feathered friends reportedly spent 10 minutes bathing and sipping from the fountain, taking turns pushing the lever for each other until all were quenched. Who are you calling a birdbrain now?

uhmazing.

pigeons are ridiculously smart.  They are also art critics. 

(via seriouslymomstopreadingmyblog)

29,576 notes

paintedskiesandrainbowseas:
this is super cool!

paintedskiesandrainbowseas:

this is super cool!

(Source: 420mermaid, via seriouslymomstopreadingmyblog)

12,338 notes

bensexual-cumberbitch:

thousandyearsbunny:

ikenbot:

pseudo-cheese:

Jumping spiders with water droplet hats. (These photos were taken by Uda Dennie. I claim credit for none of them.)

They look so happy wearing their little water droplet hats in their tiny spider kingdom.

bout the only time I’ll reblog spiders

“Ooo….Girl, that flower droplet is hot.”

“Thanks, your rainbow drop is pretty spiffy too.”

“I’m making a statement.”

(Source: kanye-wespurr, via macpye)

16,635 notes

aquacon:

The Porcupine Puffer Fish, or Diodon Holocanthus, may look like an adorable little fish at first, but they can expand up to two times their size to deter predators! Not to mention the spikes. Ouch! But don’t worry: they’re only poisonous to humans when eaten.

For more information on this Puffer and others, check out our site here!

(Source: , via ichthyologist)

131 notes

projectilevomitingrainbows:

Introducing my favourite protein: Kinesin! It’s so cute and I really want it as a plushie.

Kinesin is the little orange-y thing that looks like two big feet, walking over a microtubule. The big blue ball it carries is a vesicle full of large molecules that were produced in the center of the cell. Kinesin is a motor protein that carries this vesicle to where the molecules are needed in the cell, e.g. at the membrane. Kinesin’s partner in crime is Dynein that walks the microtubules towards the center of the cell. Especially Kinesin is thought to play an important role in mitosis, meiosis, axonal transport and more.

This gif was made from the brilliant animation made by BioVisions for Harvard University. ‘The Inner Life of the Cell’ is amazing and I think everybody should have seen it at least once in their life to get a better idea how much of a miracle life really is.

(via limegreenzer)

2,876 notes


A bald eagle that was shot by a poacher, damaging her beak to a point where eating and hunting was impossible. But thanks to technology she’s saved! 

(Source: almondsofjoy)

12 notes

wnycradiolab:

stoyanimark:

Spider Skin by FEI Company on Flickr.

Oh my goodness.  In case you’re wondering, the entire FEI Company Flickr stream is pretty unreal.

wnycradiolab:

stoyanimark:

Spider Skin by FEI Company on Flickr.

Oh my goodness.  In case you’re wondering, the entire FEI Company Flickr stream is pretty unreal.

802 notes

smithsonianmag:

 
This African Fruit Produces the World’s Most Intense Natural Color

The tiny, rock-hard fruits of Pollia condensata, a wild plant that grows in the forests of Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania and other African countries, can’t be eaten raw, cooked or turned into a beverage. In Western Uganda and elsewhere, though, the plant’s small metallic fruits have long been used for decorative purposes because of an unusual property: They stay a vibrant blue color for years or even decades after they’ve been picked. A specimen at the Kew Botanical Gardens in London that was gathered in Ghana in 1974 still retains its iridescent hue.
Intrigued, a team of researchers from Kew, the University of Cambridge and the Smithsonian Natural History Museum decided to look into how this plant produces such dazzling and persistent color. When they attempted to extract a pigment to study, though, they were surprised to discover the fruit had none. - Continue reading at Smithsonian.com.

Photo: PNAS
Ed note: How creative minds are turning to nature for fresh design solutions.

smithsonianmag:

This African Fruit Produces the World’s Most Intense Natural Color

The tiny, rock-hard fruits of Pollia condensata, a wild plant that grows in the forests of Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania and other African countries, can’t be eaten raw, cooked or turned into a beverage. In Western Uganda and elsewhere, though, the plant’s small metallic fruits have long been used for decorative purposes because of an unusual property: They stay a vibrant blue color for years or even decades after they’ve been picked. A specimen at the Kew Botanical Gardens in London that was gathered in Ghana in 1974 still retains its iridescent hue.

Intrigued, a team of researchers from Kew, the University of Cambridge and the Smithsonian Natural History Museum decided to look into how this plant produces such dazzling and persistent color. When they attempted to extract a pigment to study, though, they were surprised to discover the fruit had none. - Continue reading at Smithsonian.com.

Photo: PNAS

Ed note: How creative minds are turning to nature for fresh design solutions.

(via scishow)

3,750 notes

Can technology help us put an end to animal experimentation?

jtotheizzoe:

At io9, George Dvorsky has a look at whether we could enter a post-animal-experimentation world.

As a biologist, I’m all-too-aware of the ethical muck surrounding animal experimentation. No one, literally no scientist I know, enjoys having to resort to harming mice or rabbits or any other animal in the name of research. But many of us are charged with the task of improving the health and well-being of humans. Simply put, for many biological models, we haven’t had a good alternative to using animals (despite what many opposition groups claim).

The rule of thumb has always been to use animal research only where absolutely necessary, and then to do it humanely and minimally. New technologies may finally be providing honest, quality alternatives to using animals in experimentation.

We aren’t talking about simple cells in a petri dish. Those are no closer to an animal system than a potted plant is to a forest. These new technologies include synthetic tissues and organs, engineered complex cell culture systems, non-invasive and safe human testing, and even computer models.

Of course, we have decades of experience and regulations about how animal models are used to better medicine, and before we start designing drugs using a computer we have to test the bejeezus out of these new technologies. Most aren’t quite ready to be truly useful in medicine as it applies to a full human body, and none of them are perfect. But the fact is that animal research isn’t perfect either, and the results don’t translate as well as we would hope. To put it another way, the animal models may have as many errors and shortcomings as some of the new technologies.

(One of the jokes I tell my biology students is that if you were a mouse, getting cancer would be no big deal … we’ve cured it lots of times. Last time I checked, that wasn’t the case for humans.)

I’ve never been anti-animal testing in the purest sense, because we have gained many insights from it that we wouldn’t have otherwise. And we will continue to, for the near future. But I have always looked forward to a time when animal experiments won’t be completely necessary, and it looks like we are getting closer to that day. I recommend reading the linked article, to get informed about where we are headed, and what remains to be done.

228 notes