Monthly Archives: October 2013

Organism of the Day: Oarfish!

Finally, a fish! Jeez, it took me long enough! As usual, this is UNusual. Why? It’s big. Oh so very big



I told you. It’s. Big. Oarfish are a family of fish, Regalecidae, with only 2 genera and 4 species. The largest species, Regalecus glesne, has reached a recorded 56 FREAKIN’ FEET LONG. It has earned it’s title as the longest bony fish on the planet. It’s relatives aren’t anything to sneeze at, though. They too can reach big lengths. Oarfish are not commonly found, at least by humans. They are deep sea dwellers, and live all over the world, excluding near the poles. They occupy the depths between 656 ft below the surface up to 3,280ft (although rarely). Believe it or not their goal in life is not to eat your face. They eat plankton, squid, crabs, and krill, with one specimen having around 10,000 krill inside of it at it’s time of death. They capture prey using special gill rakes on the inside of their moths (gill rakes sort of look like they sound). It’s body is, interestingly enough, not covered in scales like most fish, but rather in a silvery coat of guanine over it’s sensitive skin. They can have bright coloration when they’re alive. Despite what you may initially think, it doesn’t wriggle it’s body around to move. The fish keeps straight as an arrow, and has it’s dorsal fin, which runs along almost the entirety of it’s back, ungulate instead like a wavy ribbon. Pretty Trippy. It’s amazing we know so much about it, considering that the fist time we caught one on camera alive was in 2001. So, how do humans come across these peaceful, mainly loner fish? Well, when they’re dead, frankly. When diseased or pushed from their home by some reason, they come to the surface, most of the time dead. This odd fish spawned the legends of sea serpents. Look at this 1860 depiction of one that washed on shore, and tell me you wouldn’t have believed the sailor’s tales after that.


So why bring up the Oarfish? Several days ago, an Oarfish washed ashore on the beaches of Southern California, followed by another one several days later. Some people (like the Japanese) have folk tales that when the fish are found in high numbers on the beach, an earthquake is soon to follow. Scientists are trying to see if there is any truth in this adage, since the fish do live a lot closer to some geologic activity and may be able to detect this. Here are the 2 Oarfish that have washed on our shores in the past few days.

oarfish-5-things_72659_600x450The crew of sailing school vessel Tole Mour and Catalina Island Marine Institute instructors hold an 18-foot-long oarfish that was found in the waters of Toyon Bay on Santa Catalina Island


Organism of the Day: Bowerbirds!

Wow, who’s the A-hole who dumped all that plastic on that bird? And why did they have an affinity for blue?

5670617_origWell, that would be the bird itself, the Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus). You see, no one dumped that plastic there, the bird brought it. And that love of blue? Yeah, that’s the bird as well. Bowerbirds are family of birds (Ptilonorhynchidae) that live those two nests of biodiversity, Australia (AKA Land of Everything that Wants to Kill You) and Papua New Guinea. Why are they special? Every animal tries to impress mates in some way (Biology is, as my High School AP Bio teacher once said, “…the study of Sex and Death). But Bowerbirds take it to the next level, and actually make artistic landscape designs, complete with structures, color schemes, and even forced prospective to give the illusion of depth in an attempt to woo a female mate. All the designers are male. And over millennia, they have perfected the art. Here’s a cool part; every single Bowerbird has their own distinct sense of style, from color schemes to placement of stick structures to the architecture of said structures. And although the males may achieve their own personal ideal of beauty, it is ultimately the female’s decision to choose which abode is the most dazzling, and the winner gets to mate with her. Truly, it’s one of the most unique, and aesthetically pleasing, mating rituals in the Animal Kingdom. I’m sure Art Majors would get a blast from having a conversation with these Avian Dinosaurs, assuming they could talk. Here is the finished product from above, and a few other examples of these bird’s impeccable sense of design.


Note: I don’t own these images.

New Page!!!

There’s  a new page in town, Visuals! This is where I’ll put down useful and informative images and diagrams. The first one, How the Sodium/Potassium Pump Operates, is already up. I will try to make a better image when I can, I realize how off it looks (the hard copy actually does look a lot better, I swear!). The process of how proteins are made is soon to follow.

Bio Test #2 is Up!!!

The Bio Practice Test #2 and it’s answer key are finally uploaded, under the Documents Page. This is the soonest I could possibly deliver it, I just finished it and have been working on it for days. This Tuesday at 3 o’clock in the Testing and tutoring center of the library’s 2nd floor I will give out this test for us to complete and discuss, and will take any last-minute questions you may have. You may, however, complete it on your own. I am drawing up the pictures for the new page right now, as I figured the test takes priority. Note, I do not own the images on the Practice Test #2.

Fresh Discoveries: Ants closer to Bees, Climate Change, and Organ Recovery from Blood Vessels



Climate Change:


Blood Vessels:

Organism of the Day: Thor’s Hero Shrew

Ah, the Adorable, yet mighty Thor’s Hero Shrew (Scutisorex thori)!


These little guys were discovered recently. They are not a new genus, although they are awesome nonetheless. Hero Shrews are from Africa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The people living there, the Mangbetu, already had named these creatures Hero Shrews along way back. Why? Because the thing is practically indestructible. Simply put, Hero Shrews (Thor’s being the newest discovery) have spines where the lumbar vertebrae interlock (8 in Thor’s, 11 in the first described species, the African Hero Shrew S. somereni). They can have an enormous amount of weight on their backs, and emerge unscathed. The Mangbetu people display this by stepping on a shrew with a single leg for several minutes, and when they step off, the shrew runs away. Why they have spines of steel is unknown, but it has been hypothesized that they use it as a brace to push up heavy pieces of palm trees to access the nutrient rich grubs that live in them. They have the strongest spine of any mammal. Note: the first spine is of a typical shrew, the other 2 (b and c) belong to Hero Shrews, with the last being Thor’s Hero Shrew.


I don’t own these images

Practice Test On Tuesday

So, the next Lecture Exam is here, and I will be creating a new practice test that covers all the topics from proteins to energy. I’ll Administer it on Tuesday, the 15th of October. We’ll test, go over it, fight a dragon, and prep you for the exam. I hope to see you there! And, if you can’t make it but still want to take the exam, I’ll have it on my website on Tuesday, under Documents.

P.S. Sorry about the delay with the Images/Diagrams Page, It will be up by this weekend.

New Image Page

Hi everyone! As you’ve probably realized, we now are finally entering Biology. As Biology seems to have a love of visuals, diagrams and images will become more and more important. Therefore, by Monday (10/7/13) i will have a new page where important diagrams and images will be posted. They will be in PDF format so that you can print them out and write on them, if you wish. They will be hand-drawn, and I swear there will be legible labels! They will try to take a more step-by-step approach to a process, in the hopes that it will make clear the steps by which a process occur. I recommend taking a look at them, even if you know the process. Sometimes, I find that someone (myself included) forgets a little detail of a step that may turn out to be vital, or perhaps forget a step entirely. It’s nothing to feel bad about, these things are super complicated, so much so that you won’t be taught an unabridged process in this class. If you know it, Awesome! You’re already there. If not, then it’s a really simple fix. Again, it’s kinda slow, but it’s not because you guys can’t get it. If anything, you guys have proven to be an awesome class. Take pride!