Axillary (armpit) temperatures

Our 3-year-old has had a fever for about 2.5 days now. We outgrew the rectal stage when she started kicking, and she’s not quite coordinated or willing enough to keep it under her tongue, and so we take her temperature orally. I usually add like 3 degrees to whatever it says. Apparently I’m being a tad dramatic, because I googled it today and you’re only supposed to add 1 or 2 degrees. The Mayo Clinic said 1 degree, but I didn’t like their answer so I found one that says add 1 or 2. See what I mean about being dramatic?

Romance at the VLT

This telescope doesn’t need good pick up lines… and if it’s size that counts, this equipment is large… very large…

This romantic vista shows a Unit Telescope and three of the Axillary Telescopes of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer. We can also see the crimson sunset, zodiacal light and the arc of the Milky Way overhead. The red super-giant star, Antares, stands out in the crowd of starlight. In addition a faint meteor can be seen to the left of the Unit Telescopes

This image serves as this week’s ESO Picture of the Week!


Image Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi (x)

Boissonneaua jardini | ©Jaime García Domínguez   (Mindo, Ecuador)

The Velvet-purple CoronetBoissonneaua jardini (Apodiformes - Trochilidae) is a particularly beautiful large hummingbird of humid forest along the Pacific slope of the Andes in northwest Ecuador, and southwest Colombia.

This hummingbird can appear all dark in low light, but glows magnificently when seen well; with a black hood and an irridescent blue-purple body with green to the coverts and large white patches in the outer rectrices.  Though unique enough in plumage, the Velvet-purple Coronet has the curious habit of holding its wings straight up for a brief moment after perching, showing its chestnut axillaries.  


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Barleria cristata is in the family Acanthaceae. Commonly known as Philippine Violet, it is native to the Philippines and Southeast Asia, including Malaysia. The solitary lavender flowers develop from axillary buds above opposite leaves. This species is known to only bloom during the fall, and prefers full sun in well draining soil.

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And Today’s Most Ridiculous Reason to Come to the Doctor Goes to......

Patient coming in for “axillary temperatures ranging from 98.6-99.4, feeling tired at the end of the day, feeling hot sometimes.”

Sorry dude, that’s called being a human being and I don’t think we have a treatment for that yet. 

My first anatomy practical is in a few days and I’m dreading it so hard. We had a practice one today that the M2s set up and I passed but I’m pretty weak on branches of arteries coming off the subclavian and axillary arteries. So many vessels. So many nerve branches. So many things to do. I can pretty much narrow down possible structures in an area of the body so I can at least have a good guess. What helped y’all in the final hour?

Canarina canariensis | ©Cristopher Young

Canarina canariensis (Asterales - Campanulaceae) is endemic to the central and western islands, in Canary Islands. It is a herbaceous perennial locally known as Bicácaro, whose stems, hollow, fleshy climbing or hanging, are renewed every year from a tuber.

The flowers are axillary, solitary, bell-shaped, with a corolla 3-6 cm long, orange color, but darkens upon drying. The fruits are edible fleshy berries.


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Malaleuca incana is in the eucalyptus family Myrtaceae. Commonly known as grey honey myrtle, it is endemic to southwest Australia. This shrub grows up to 10 feet tall and produces weeping branches covered in grey-green foliage. The axillary flowers are yellow to cream-colored and give off a sweet smelling fragrance. Although native populations are only found in Australia, this is one of the most commonly cultivated species of Malaleuca and has been established in the horticulture trade for many years. This species tolerates many different soil types and can tolerate drought as well as the occasional frost.

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Mentha arvensis “Wild Mint” Lamiaceae

Missoula, MT
July 19, 2015
Robert Niese

Mint is one of the most abundant, easily recognizable plants growing along the banks of Missoula’s rivers this summer – perfect for those on-the-fly, riverside mojitos! Look for its square stems, axillary flowers, and minty aroma!


Nepeta cataria is in the mint family Lamiaceae. Commonly known as catnip, it is native to Europe and Asia, but has become naturalized in many parts of North America. This herbaceous perennial blooms from spring through fall, with dense axillary clusters of spotted white to pink flowers. Catnip contains the compound nepetalactone, which is the main molecule that causes inebriation in cats. Catnip can induce euphoria when smelled but acts as a sedative when eaten. About 50% of cats are affected and will roll and flop about, run around frantically, and/or lay about in a daze. But don’t worry, the effects are harmless and temporary!

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Some cactus science, if you are so inclined:

“One defining feature of cacti is having clusters of spines. Numerous plants have spines of course, but in cacti, spines occur in clusters in the axil of leaves, even though the leaves are usually microscopic. Most cactus morphologists have concluded that cactus spines are either modified leaves or modified bud scales (the difference is inconsequential because bud scales themselves are modified leaves). The leaf-nature of spines is certainly understandable from the point of view of location: spine primordia look just like leaf primordia and are produced at a location where we would expect leaf primordia – at the base of the axillary bud’s shoot apical meristem. 

“Evolution appears to have been more complex than would be expected: mature cactus spines do not contain any of the cells or tissues characteristic of leaves, and conversely leaves lack all features characteristic of spines. The two organs have little in common other than developing from leaf primordia. Spines consist of just a core of fibers surrounded by sclereid-like epidermis cells. They have no stomata, no guard cells, no mesophyll parenchyma, no xylem, no phloem. When mature, all cells in a spine are dead, and even when the spine is still growing it has living cells only at its base. Cactus leaves on the other hand … have parenchymatous epidermis cells, guard cells, spongy mesophyll, chlorenchyma, xylem and phloem. So the evolutionary conversion of cactus leaves into spines did not involve a mere reduction of the lamina and then further reduction of midrib and petiole, it instead involved the suppression of all leaf-cell type genes and activation of genes that control formation of fibers, the deposition and lignification of secondary walls, and then programmed cell death. These fiber morphogenesis genes are not activated in any cactus leaf (none at all has fibers), but they are activated of course in the development of wood. It would appear that after an axillary bud apical meristem initiates spine primordia, most leaf genes remain suppressed and instead wood fiber genes are activated. This does not involve all wood genes because vessels are never produced in the spines, just wood fibers. This would be a type of homeotic evolution.”

Mauseth, J. D. 1982. Development and ultrastructure of extrafloral nectaries in Ancistrocactus scheeri (Cactaceae). Botanical Gazette 143: 273 – 277.