We’ve discussed the mechanisms by which species arise, given enough time and environmental circumstances. These mechanisms account for the means by which evolution occurs–in other words: natural selection. Would nature select for or against the albino turtle? How would this selection take place? What can be said about the trait that results in albinism?
We’ll be done in the next few days with the molecular basis of inheritance. This means that the chapters on animals are getting closer. With this in mind, and knowing that the due date for your comments is very near, I wanted to share a post that accounts for the A in the STEAM model of science education.
The A in STEAM stands for Art. And in this post we’ll see how art, science, and conservation cross-pollinate each other. The artist in this post is Aganetha Dyck. She collaborates with scientists and bees to create sculptures wrapped in honeycomb. Her work is very poignant and current, considering that bee populations in North America, Europe and many other parts of the world have plummeted 30-50%. This very unfortunate phenomenon for all of mankind is called colony collapse disorder:
“Colony collapse is significant economically because many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by European honey bees. According to the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the worth of global crops with honeybee’s pollination was estimated to be close to $200 billion in 2005. Shortages of bees in the US have increased the cost to farmers renting them for pollination services by up to 20%.”–Via Wikipedia.
The following short film shows Aganetha’s creative process:
“We may conclude that…those males which are best able by their various charms to please or excite the female, are under ordinary circumstances accepted. If this be admitted, there is not much difficulty in understanding how male birds have gradually acquired their ornamental characters. In all ordinary cases, the male is so eager that he will accept any female, and does not, as far as we can judge, prefer one to the other.” — Charles Darwin
The following video–of about one hour of duration–begins with a very poignant explanation of the advantages of peacock feathers:
Reddit.com is referred to as the “front page of the internet”; meaning that anything worth a look at on the web ends up here, before it even reaches conventional media (newspapers, TV, etc.). Most of the memes that appear on your Facebook wall, or on your Twitter timeline, have their origins here. Reddit caters to the taste of almost everyone. There are sections (subreddits) that manage a lot of multimedia: videos, text (news articles), and photos. This large community has gained world wide attention; including the POTUS (President of The United States, Barack Obama). Thus, to have a proper idea of the role of the Internet during the first decade of the 21st Century, reddit cannot be ignored.
In this post I will share images taken from the subreddit of photos (r/pics). This 14 picture gallery will show pics of animals from various phyla: chordates (amphibians, birds, mammals, reptiles), cnidarians (jellyfish), molluks (squids), etc. Some of the images display rare behavioral traits of animals:
Many more images, just as remarkable as these ones, are uploaded daily. They give us a glimpse of the wonderful biodeversity in the animal kingdom–this biodiversity is another piece of evidence that accounts for the success of animals. Suggestions for the growth of this gallery are welcome. Don’t forget to put the hyperlink in the comment section of the post. I expect this gallery to grow with your input (remember to name the animal as well).
We can move on, at last, from Cellular Respiration. Today we welcome a virtual respite from the intricacies of the cell. We’ve covered many things that account for what cells–the basic unit of life–are. Nevertheless, we cannot talk about biology without actually seeing the result of the pathways and structures we’ve discussed in the past months. These pathways, tissues, and biochemical structures, have many wonderful arrangements–organizations that give rise to organisms of elegant simplicity (sponges), and impressive complexity (humans).
This respite comes in the form of a new chapter: Chapter 32: Introduction to Animals. Why do we study animals? Imagine an architect that only knows about materials, but has never seen an actual building; he or she does not know that marble, a material studied in detail, can be used to build structures like roman columns, or art pieces like Michelangelo’s Moses. Right now, at this stage of your Bio course, you are an architect that knows (or should know) all about marble, but has never seen a marble creation; you have heard everything there is to know about the cell–its stuctures, behaviors, biochemical pathways, etc.–but know nothing about one of the most impressive results of what cells can do.
Animals are the result of very complex arrangement of cells–forming tissues, organs, systems, etc. Also, they have been a very significant part of global human culture for millennia; another reason why animals should be studied. The following picture, taken from this source, shows a very dramatic and impressive example of an animal:
The Smithsonian .com has a blog called Surprising Science. Here they post weird and exciting news about science–the natural world is awesome and, more often than not, strange and weird. Today we begin Chapter 7; Section 1: Glycolysis and Fermentation. I found a very pertinent post for the current chapter titled: The Alcoholics of the Animal World | Surprising Science:
“The moose likely got drunk eating apples fermenting on the ground and got stuck in the tree trying to get fresh fruit. “Drunken elk are common in Sweden during the autumn season when there are plenty of apples lying around on the ground and hanging from branches in Swedish gardens,” The Local states.”
This unfortunate and, admittedly, funny event is uncommon but not entirely rare. Who knew that apples could be lethal.