Sunday, September 28, 2014

Praise for the 5K

When done right, it's short, fast, and furious, a combination of speed, strength, and endurance.

More commonly, it's short, slow, and steady, possible leading into a walk, and sometimes decorated with brightly colored t-shirt with many corporate logos.

In an era in which running marathons is increasingly popular, I wanted to echo pro runner Lauren Fleshman's fun and funny ode to the 5km race.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dragons!

In a recent post, we learned how the evolution of a wavy spiny body with a prehensile tail, a bent neck, and a long thin snout have combined to help make seahorses into bad-ass predators. More so if you are a small shrimp-like crustacean than, say, a scuba diver.

in their native habitat, seahorses are actually quite gentle
(though they are stealthy and successful hunters)
image: FreakingNews

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sloth to-do list, i.e. happy weekend!

The sloth to-do list seems really short and easy.

the sloth to-do list, from Liz Climo


There is, of course, more to it, as a lot of preparation and evolution have gone into the sloth being able to keep his or her to-do list so short. In honor of the sloth and the weekend, take a minute to consider some of the key steps:

claws for clinging and for defending
photo: Kevin Schafer/Corbis

1. Grow a lot of hair. A Lot of hair.



2. Move slowly to avoid attracting attention. Move so slowly that algae grows in your fur. Camouflage is your friend.


3. Sleep a lot, high in a tree, hanging by your crazy-claws.


4. Eat leaves and other low-energy food. Plus bugs that live in the algae of your fur (a.k.a. fast food). Become a self-sustaining ecosystem.

live it up - up in the trees
photo: Tauchgurke, Wikimedia Commons

5. Poo on the ground, thereby mystifying everyone, predators and researchers alike.


6. Eat, sleep, socialize, and reproduce while hanging in trees.

a (crazy) little orphan sloth, enjoying his new digs in Costa Rica


Monday, September 8, 2014

Seahorses are the only fish species that can hold your hand!

fins: for swimming, not for grabbing
image: Gunaxin
Picture a fin on a fish. Not the best grabbing apparatus around, but, then again, fish don't really need to grab things, as they live in a 3-dimensional space with a swim bladder to maintain their vertical position.

stonefish waiting for the next victim
Some, like stonefish or scorpion fish, live on the bottom and nab prey as it swims by.

Seahorses, which I really enjoyed learning about while researching how and why they evolved their curvy S-shaped body and long thin horse-like head, function similarly, except they hang onto objects both on the ground and in the water column.

look ma, no hands!
photo: FusedJaw
The trick is in their tails: they are prehensile, meaning they can grab and hold onto things, such as seagrass, seaweed, or coral.

Like the monkeys that eat fruit while hanging from a tree branch, seahorses can hold on to vegetation with their tails and grab passing mini-shrimp called copepods with their mouths at the ends of those weird long snouts.

But there is more that is very cool, and unique, about seahorses, these weird and wonderful fish.