Corrections to 120 SI, 9/4/14

Hello everyone! I realize that in the last 120 SI I made an erroneous statement concerning alpha and beta linkages in polysaccharides. It turns out I corrected myself incorrectly, and my original definition was right.  The correct manner of their linkage, Alpha or beta, is whether they are all facing the same direction (alpha) or if alternating glucose molecules face different directions (beta). It is NOT due to inherent structural differences in the glucose. My sincerest apologies.

Organism of the Day: Aurochs!

Behold, the Aurochs (Bos primigenius)!



Daww, it’s so small and cute!


It’s…a cow. I know. BUT! It is not just any mere cow. For lo, it is the ancestor to all domestic cattle. These were organisms not to be trifled with. The Aurochs is a creature that shared the land with humans in Europe and Asia for may thousands of years. It was a large beast, and yet largely swift and agile. That, matched with it’s fiery temper, made for a terrifyingly deadly combination. It makes one wonder why our ancestors decided to try to domesticate these things at all! The Aurochs were spread far and wide, and had 3 distinct subspecies, shown here with their distributions.


The Aurochs was a forest dwelling bovine, with a diet that consisted of grass and leaves from trees. They played a pivotal role in the ecosystem of many of Europe’s forests, acting as the top-teir herbivores. Their absence has led to the forests falling out of balance, an issue that’s still being delt with today. So, how long has our species known these animals? Here’s a hint:



And you thought hammer pants were ancient.

The bulls on all the cave paintings we’ve found, like this one from Lascaux, France from 17,000 years ago, are all aurochs. They certainly do have a lot of meat on them, and were probably very enticing for our ancestors. Probably less enticing was their ability to hunt you down without tiring if you pissed them off. How do we know so much about this extinct species? Well, they haven’t been long gone. The last Aurochs died in Poland in the 1600’s. There’s plenty of historical data about them. When he wasn’t busy bringing down the wrath of Mars on the Gauls, even Julius Caesar wrote about them,

…those animals which are called uri. These are a little below the elephant in size, and of the appearance, color, and shape of a bull. Their strength and speed are extraordinary; they spare neither man nor wild beast which they have espied. These the Germans take with much pains in pits and kill them. The young men harden themselves with this exercise, and practice themselves in this sort of hunting, and those who have slain the greatest number of them, having produced the horns in public, to serve as evidence, receive great praise. But not even when taken very young can they be rendered familiar to men and tamed.


-Gallic War

Here’s an example of an extremely lucky man from the middle ages.


And a less fortunate Aurochs

So, why bring these creatures up? Because we’re bringing them back. The forests of Europe quite simply aren’t the same with out them, in a similar way Yellowstone National Park wasn’t the same without its keystone species, wolves. Beech trees are over-running the forests without the massive bovines. The TaurOs and Uruz Projects are using selective breeding to bring back a breed of cattle that can replace the aurochs and be very genetically similar. And they’re getting closer.


Note: I do not own these images.

Zoology SI!!


Hey Everyone! So, after greatly impressing the Professors with my Komodo Dragon-Wrangling Skills, stopping a rampaging elephant with naught but my soothing voice, and successfully disguising myself to observe unnoticed the ever vigilant sponges, I have been permitted to become the Zoology SI! This website will soon support materials for members of Bio 240, as well as for members of Bio 120. I will make practice tests and quizzes for Zoology, and be here to answer any questions you may have. Zoo, this site is yours now too. Let this be a space truly for the love of Bio (and good grades. But who cares about those?)! For ALL students, if you ask a question, I will respond in 24 hours or less. And to all interested in Biology, whether in these classes or not, I hope this helps. I’m rooting for you guys!

-The SI

P.S. Psssst, Botany, you guys can come too.

Fresh Bio News!

Here’s some new news from the realm of Biology!


Bacteria using Far-Red-Light to Photosynthesize


New Evidence of Sympatric Evolution (A new species evolving inside of an existing population with no geographic barriers)


Animals may have more Language Structure than previously thought


Jurassic Mammals may have been picky eaters


Organisim of the Day: The Barreleye Fish!

Behold, the Barreleye Fish (Macropinna microstoma)!

Well, that’s a strange fish… it’s almost like its head is…HOLY CRAP IT HAS A SEE-THROUGH FACE!!!! It has those sad little eyes, a pouty-lookin’ mouth and weird, greenish…brain lobes? Not quite. M. microstoma (a.k.a. “spookfish”), as other worldly as they seem, actually come from a place much closer than the alien planet you might suspect. It lives in the deep waters off the central coast of California, about 2,000 to 2,600 feet (600-800m) below the watery surface. To even see one alive requires a submersible, as they don’t survive long once removed from their native habitat. The image above was taken by an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in 2009. That’s fairly recent, and we’ve only been aware of the existence of this species since 1939. Its “face” is composed of a transparent dome (apparently rather delicate) filled with some fluid. Now, the transparent head is odd, but not super weird or mind blowing. But why would it need that see-through dome in the first place? It doesn’t need to see out of it or anything, its eyes are at the front. Aaaaaaaaaaaannd this is where it gets weird.


So WHAT THE F@$% IS THAT!!!! Those are barreleyes. Eyes. In the shape. Of a barrel. Those things that you probably thought were eyes? Smelling organs called nares. Although not the only barreleye fish (family Opisthoproctidae), this is first we’ve seen in it’s natural habitat. It looks straight up to look for food (with it’s body horizontal), and then rotates its eyes forward as it turns its body upward to swim for the food source. So what do these guys eat? While we haven’t fully observed its eating habits, researchers hypothesize that it finds some siphonophores (jellyfish relatives), and steals food straight from their tentacles. Actually, that’s kind of badass. You can see a short clip of some Barreleye Fish here.

Note: I don’t own these images

Time and Place Finalized for Meetings!

Hi everyone! after reviewing all of the surveys, the hours I proposed will be the actual hours. So, 4pm to 5:30pm Tuesday and Thursday, in the library’s upstairs, in the Testing and Tutoring Center, room 3 (the big one). Thanks to everyone who filled out the survey, it was really helpful! And if you can’t make it at those hours, remember, there is this website! I wish everyone the best of luck this semester. I’m rootin’ for you guys!

-The SI


P.S. I will restart my Organism of the Day series, as well as Fresh Bio News, starting today.

Sincerest Apologies

Hi Everyone,

I was about 10 minutes away from posting a complete test. I decided that I would add an essay page, but when I tried to add another section, the whole file turned into multiple languages and gibberish, wouldn’t respond, and now refuses to open. The chances of me having time to create a new one are desperately slim. I am terribly sorry to say that you most likely will not have a personalized test. In light of this, I would point out that 2 practice exams currently up on this site possess the questions from the material you are studying: Practice Exam 2 and 3. All questions are pertinent on 2, and questions 1-20 are applicable on 3. Their Answer Keys are also online. Also, Burns has her own practice test, accessible via her website. This must be how it feels like to be the cliche cop on TV shows who’s one day away from retirement and then has something terrible happen. In the event I can get it online, I will alert you, but this is very slim. I am truly and utterly sorry to everyone.

Practice Exam 1 is UP!

The new Practice Exam 1 and it’s answer key are up! It is under the Documents Page, and labeled for Spring 2014. To get the full preparation, try out last semester’s practice test 1 (the difference isn’t drastic, and should be quite helpful), and Burn’s Practice Test 1. Best of Luck to you all! Contact me if you have any Questions!

-The SI

So it begins!

Hi everyone!  The semester has finally begun, and I figured it would be a good idea to give a brief overview of this site. This is where you can come anytime and ask me questions about bio. Maybe you can’t make it to SI, or maybe you have a question that needs to be answered, like, within a day, because you have a test tomorrow and you’re trying to cram at 3am on 5 cups of coffee that are straight up injected into you from an IV. Well, that’s what the site’s for (Please note: the SI’s advice is to NOT cram at 3am in the morning with 5 cups of coffee. Nothing good can come of it, I promise.). All you have to do is comment under the Questions section. It’s that easy! If you need some practice tests, those will be put here, along with answer keys (which hopefully soon will include Burns’ practice test answer keys as well). I have a section titled “Visuals” that I’m working on expanding this year. It should prove useful in the coming months. Finally, sometimes you just can’t learn a subject from someone very well, for whatever reason. Everyone has someone they just don’t get, maybe due to the way they teach, or the fact that you hate them from 5th grade when they totally stole your Gogurt, or because they refuse to stop teaching in Sindarin Elfish. If so, there are links on this site that I’ve found to be pretty helpful from good bio sources.

Every so often I post about interesting organisms and fresh biology news, so check back here and who knows, maybe you’ll find something new! I also post some funny bio-related images, because everyone needs a laugh once in a while. The First SI session is this Thursday, so I hope to see you there! Remember, it’s 1-4pm, Thursdays (every week but holidays) in the Testing and Tutoring Center upstairs in the Library. I hope this turns out to be a great semester, and I wish everyone the best of Luck! I’m rootin’ for ya!

- The SI

Burns’ Practice Final now has an answer key!

The Documents Section now has an Answer Key to her Practice Final. Good Luck!


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