Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dog Fail

While some animals, such as elephants and wild cats, suffer at the hands of people and have disappeared from much of their ancestral home (or just gone completely extinct...), others have succeeded beyond their wild ancestors' imaginations in the human landscape. Dogs have thrived as well as any species, as this post and this post highlight.

Sometimes dogs do fail at "being dogs", which this post and the hilarious video below (posted by my cousin on Facebook - !!) show really well. I was nearly in tears, so please enjoy.

Dogs Who Fail At Being Dogs- Hilarious!
Posted by DIY New Ideas on Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Surviving that long night of the Northern winter

What's a ptarmigan, you might ask?

That's a ptarmigan (Tar-mi-gan)
photo: Gail Hampshire

No, that's a ptarmigan!  (Same species, different season!)
photo: Dave Menke, USFWS

No, that's a ptarmigan! Same species, different gender (this is a male) 
photo: Dave Menke, USFWS

Actually, the ptarmigan is a lovely bird that lives in the higher northern latitudes and changes its plumage to survive both summer and winter. Males and females look different in summer time, so you all are right.

Ptarmigans don't just change color. Oh no! They also prepare and execute several strategies each year that allow them to thrive in a range of chilly places.

Why so much planning?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Baboon by the bay

While some species suffer from human activity and will avoid people whenever possible, others are able to thrive in human environments.

Animals with certain requirements, such as large areas or specific food or nesting resources, or with body parts we humans like to turn into jewelry, clothing, or sushi, fall into the first category. Those that are smaller, able to eat various types of food or live in multiple environments, and don't threaten people or our stuff, have a better chance of thriving in our increasingly manmade world.

Here's one of the flexible ones – I'm guessing a Chacma baboon in South Africa – having a moment.

photo:  Qwan Chana

I love this photo -- I challenge you all to give it a worthy caption!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Expanding into hostile environments by using less oxygen

we're just coming over to say hi!
photo: Monterrey Bay Aquatic Research Inst.
Last week's post on the Humboldt, or jumbo, squid, taught me (and perhaps you too?) how these red devils of the deep change color and flash each other to communicate. Plus they beat up the people that try to film them doing it.

There's more to this crabby monster than just producing pretty color and light.

Humboldt squid have another mysterious ability that may be enabling them to succeed in more and more places: they thrive in low oxygen environments that most other big critters tend to avoid.

Some background: these beasts already contribute to the ocean environments, both as a predator on crustaceans and as prey for even bigger critters – sperm whales, bill-fishes, tunas, sharks – and people.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Humboldt Squid, the red devils of the deep,communicate through color

I'm in my red phase, please admire from afar.
photo: L. Roberson
What's black and white and red all over?

It's the red devil of the Pacific, a.k.a. the Humboldt, or jumbo, squid.

Humboldt squids spend most of their lives tens of meters under the ocean surface, and they speak to each other in flashes of color, changing their whole bodies quickly from red to white and back again.

Watch jumbo squid speak by 'flashing' each other
(sorry, unable to get this embedded!)

But what does all this flashing mean?