S2E3| Animal Magnetism

In this episode, Devon and Richard explore the animal magnetism. No, not the kind you might be thinking. Instead, we’re talking about the surprisingly common animal superpower which allows creatures all around the world, from the skies to the oceans, to sense the magnetic field of our planet.

S2E2: Ant Farm

We as humans often think of ourselves as unique. In this episode, we discover that we may not be as unique, or advanced, as we thought as we learn about amazing subterranean fungi farmers, cowboy insects, and a 55 million year old relationship that puts our use (or misuse) of antibiotics to shame. Special thanks to our guest for the episode, Dr Cameron Currie of UW-Madison.

Want to check out the leafcutter ant cam, the fANTastic farmers game, or see more about Dr Cameron Currie’s research? Visit his website here.

Want to use this episode in the classroom? Listen for tips on how!

 

 

#SundayFishSketch| Rainbow Parrotfish

This #SundayFishSketch comes from Ichthyologist, Rene Martin. Visit her shop on InPrint to see more of her artwork or to order prints!


Meet the Rainbow Parrotfish

Scarus guacamaia

Scarus guacamaia - pone.0010676.g128

Aside from the species name guacamaia sounding quite a lot like guacamole, the two have nothing in common.

The rainbow parrotfish belongs to the broader parrotfish family of about 95 species, Scaridae. The guacamaia are among the largest at nearly 4 feet in length, living a sweet 16 year life in the waters of the western Atlantic ocean–from Bermuda, throughout the Caribbean, to Venezuela.

They inhabit seagrass beds, coral reefs, and mangrove forests at shallow depths of no more than 85 feet where they spend their time feeding on detritus (dead stuff) and the occasional sponge.

They are currently classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN.


Sources:

Choat, J.H., Feitosa, C., Ferreira, C.E., Gaspar, A.L., Padovani-Ferreira, B. & Rocha, L.A. 2012. Scarus guacamaiaThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T19950A17627624. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012.RLTS.T19950A17627624.en. Downloaded on 20 January 2019.

Season 2 Premier: Is Anybody Out There?

In the Season 2 premier of The Wild Life, Devon attempts to settle an age old argument between him and his co-host by enlisting the help of renowned biochemist, professor, and author (The Vital Question,: Why is Life the Way it is?; Life Ascending; Power, Sex, Suicide), Dr Nick Lane of the University College of London. The debate: is there complex alien life somewhere out there, or is it improbable that there is anything more than simple, cellular life? We look to the improbable origins of complex life on earth in search of answers.

#SundayFishSketch| Alcock’s Spikefish

This #SundayFishSketch comes from Ichthyologist, Rene Martin. Visit her shop on InPrint to see more of her artwork or to order prints!


Meet the Alcock’s Spikefish

Halimochirurgus alcocki

Alcock’s Spikefish, Halimochirurgus alcocki. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial

 

The Alcock’s Spikefish, also known as the Longsnout Spikefish is a deep water (1279 to 2000 feet deep, in fact) fish living in the oceans of the Indo-Pacific regions—East Africa to Australia, north to the Philippines and further to Japan.

Not much is known about this particular Spikefish, but much more is known about the overall family to which they belong, Triacanthodidae, colloquially referred to as the Spikefish (surprise, surprise, right?)

Spikefish, the family, are ray-finned species including other fishes such as pufferfish and triggerfish. Some, like our alcocki have long tubular snouts, while others are box like, flat, angular, round, spikeless, or even possess specialized teeth for scraping the gunk off of other fish in need of a good scrub. Of course, pufferfish are widely known for their namesake puffing action, as well. The diversity seen in the overall family alone is astounding.

On one final note, some of you may have seen similar images as the one you are about to—the skeleton of a puffer fish. Most do not realize that the spikes are actually part of the overall skeleton and form a dense network. These spike are actually made from nanocrystalline hydroxyapatite, collagen, and water, and are essentially just modified scales. So, I think the award for most metal skeleton goes to (no, not wolverine) the pufferfish.

Pufferfish, Skeleton, Tetraodontidae, Animal, Dead


Sources

Halimochirurgus alcocki in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jan 2019, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/4198