Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Bravery saves a rabbit's life -- to live (and breed) another day

This rabbit's genes worked to help him/her survive a falcon attack and have another shot at reproduction.  And you know how good rabbits already are at that...

Monday, January 16, 2017

Eels hold onto prey with their second "alien-like" jaws

Hungry movie aliens are very persistent.
Photo: HadeelMaaitah, Twitter
The xenomorph space alien in the movie "Alien" has that terrifying second set of jaws that pop out to nab its intended victim.

The idea for this bizarre architecture actually came from Earth.

It's real. In an eel. (sorry).

Morays and other eels, and in fact some 30,000 fish species, have these double jaws that normally sit in the animal's throat, rather than in their mouth, like ours do. Their correct name is "pharyngeal" jaws, named for the pharynx, or throat.

Why eels? Well, morays are large predatory fish, growing up to several meters (>10 feet) long. They lack protective scales and pelvic and pectoral fins, so they mostly hang out in narrow burrows waiting to ambush a fish or crab. When they see on pass by close enough, they come out and make an swift attack. They then swallow the animal whole. Gulp.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

True-to-yourself resolutions

Some Happy New Year inspiration for those tired of broken resolutions...

Keeping New Year's resolutions to move forward with our goals is a great way to feel a sense of accomplishment, so why is it so hard to keep them?  Why even make resolutions if we aren't going to keep them?

The disappointment of not keeping a promise to yourself that James Corden mentions in the video is serious, so we can all take a cue from Shakespeare:  "To thine own self be true."

No one else cares if you resolve to "eat better", "exercise more", "read more books", or "stop watching stupid fail videos".

Making resolutions that you are going to keep helps you be true to yourself and that counts for a lot. Here are two of mine for 2017:
  1. I resolve to keep exercising my brain and body every day and make each effort count.  
  2. I further resolve to eat ice cream only once per day!
Go for it!  Here are some well-researched tips from one of my previous resolution-keeping assessments.

Good luck and, in honor of Carrie Fisher, may the Force be with you!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Can I still eat this? Some basics on saving or tossing food

Canada Food Board, through Wikipedia
Our earliest ancestors—who roamed forests and grasslands to hunt and gather foods, carrying whole antelope or heavy baskets of fruits picked from trees or tubers dug from the ground back to their shelter—had to ask the question.

Early agriculturalists—who stored grains they painstakingly harvested and kept safe from wild animals to last them through the winter—had to ask the question.

Today, even those of us back from a trip to a modern supermarket with food in a refrigerator, have to ask the question.

Can I still eat this?

Answer:  It depends.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

10 facts about fast-feeding, fast-flying hummingbirds

Just some of the great variety of hummingbirds,
shown together in color plate illustration
from Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur (1899)
Along with other migratory birds, the hummingbirds have also flown south from North America to warmer winter homes in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Instead of good-bye, let's say hello to this group of tiny but gorgeous group of avian acrobats.

While they are found only in the Americas, there are more than 300 species of them; only 12 migrate to North America each year.

They migrate north for the plentiful food, in the form of insects and flower nectar, that pops up in northern climates every spring.

Here are 10 fun facts about hummingbirds, some of which you may already know! (thanks HummingbirdsPlus)

#1: Their long bills: One of the main purposes of a hummingbird’s bill is to help them probe deep into the flowers for specialized feeding. The shapes of various hummingbird bills have evolved over time.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Hearing voices: elephants can distinguish friends and foes

With experience, elephants learn that some humans are dangerous, while others are harmless.

Cool Elephant Fact 1:  When faced with a leopard call, elephants will not bother moving or changing their activity. When faced with a lion call, they freeze in place, perk up their ears to listen, and move off silently to avoid trouble.

Cool Elephant Fact 2:  They do the same with different groups of people.

One key to survival and biological fitness is knowing your enemies -- fleeing costs energy, so animals that know when to run and when to keep feeding will get to feed more than those that are perpetually nervous or interrupted while feeding.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Starting the day right means a good breakfast -- or not?

Yep. Fido makes a great point.

Nutritionists favoring a daily breakfast say that skipping that first meal increases hunger throughout the day, making people overeat and seek out snacks to compensate for missing that first – and some would say most important – meal of the day. Is this a myth?

And does skipping breakfast lead to weight gain?  Not really.  Or maybe, it depends on the study and the confounding factors. Men that skipped breakfast also tend to drink and smoke more, which can be controlled for, but likely do other things differently from breakfast eaters, things still undetected by researchers.

Nutrition studies are often based on observations or self-reporting, so the science behind nutritional recommendations can be insufficient, biased, or based on false information. Transparency in interpreting results would help, though more gray area tends to confuse a public already uncertain of how and what to eat!

What, in fact, is a breakfast for champions?

All this talk of dogs and eating reminds me of the ultimate dog tease — enjoy: