Glimmering Jewels

A tiny iridescent copepod (Sapphirina copepod) has been making its way around the web lately in a lovely now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t fashion not unlike its appearance in the natural habitat. Invisible unless hit at the right angle by light, they are described by those who have seen them as making the water look like its been…

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View from Above

We’re always looking for reasons, causality, connections, in life and in science. There’s an ongoing project that might be an invaluable tool in discovering unexpected interconnectivity on the planet’s surface. The ICARUS Initiative (“International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space”) is a scientific collaboration working towards placing a remote sensory system on the International Space…

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The Biology Thing

It’s no secret that the collective imagination has a deep-rooted fear of wolves. Our legends and fairy tales are populated with powerful wolves getting up to all manner of naughtiness, from pretending to be something they aren’t (whether dressed as Grandmother or sheep), to reflecting our animal sides in the form of werewolves, to simply…

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Sessile Mobility

A study on sucker-footed bats (Myzopoda aurita), published in PLOS One, discusses bat fossils found in Egypt’s Western Desert. This might be less worthy of examination if the fossils weren’t almost identical with existing bats now found only on Madagascar. These bats have sessile, or immovable, pads for feet. Based on their research, study authors…

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Warm Caprice

I was out running yesterday evening, and as I entered the last kilometer, I was brought up short by the sunset clouds reflected in a puddle. The air was crisp, but not winterly. It snowed on the mountain tops last week, but only briefly, leaving a sharp white line between the elevation where winter still…

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Negating Seasonality

When we look into the future, it’s always the same stuff that catches our fancy. Transportation, climate control, surmounting daily inconvenience. The postcards here show a light-hearted vision of life in the year 2000, as illustrated on chocolate boxes circa 1900. I’ve noticed, however, that older ‘future-visions’ from this era rarely include farming and food…

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Diatom Design

Diatoms are a major group of algae. The word ‘diatom’ means to be ‘cut in two’, and certainly, these algae do look like perfect slices of something larger. From the Tree of Life web project (David G. Mann): The diatoms are one of the largest and ecologically most significant groups of organisms on Earth. They…

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Old Water Ways

These satellite images show winter snow levels in California in early 2013, when the state was already experiencing drought conditions, and in 2014, when the state is officially in the worst drought on record. Much of the annual fresh water in the state is the result of snow melt. California is no stranger to the…

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Playing Favorites

As with anything else, there tend to be trends and favorites when it comes to endangered animal species. The polar bear, the orang-utan, the rhinoceros, the tiger, the lion are the iconic poster animals of conservation. The animals that draw attention, affection, and donations. We like to identify with our favorites, and like to think…

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Spawn Skimming

Coral reefs spawn beneath a springtime full moon, sending up a synchronized release of countless coral eggs and sperm to mingle in the sea, sometimes across great distances. These form planulae, coral larvae, which first float to the water’s surface, then swim back down to the reef or seabed, and form new coral. And yet,…

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