d'orbigny

Loligo gigas [now Dosidas gigas] - Humboldt Squid/Jumbo Squid

The Humboldt squid is among the largest of the squid, despite their lifespan of just under one year. Other giant squids have a lifespan estimated to be around five years at a minimum, and don’t reach their maximum size until near the end of their life. One of the major sources of food for Humboldt squid is other Humboldt squids, which is believed to contribute significantly to their fast growth.

All of the suckers of the Humboldt are ringed with sharp, flesh-tearing teeth, and when squid are feeding, they’ve been known to be very aggressive towards scuba divers. Outside of feeding time (generally dusk to dawn), the squid are generally non-aggressive creatures.

Like many squid, the Humboldt has chromatophores in its skin, allowing for rapid color changes. When they feed or are in distress (such as when they’re caught by fishers), they flash bright red. This led to one of their first colloquial names - El diablo rojo - the Red Devil.

Voyage dans l'Amerique Meridionale: Tome Neuvieme. Alcide d'Orbigny, 1847.

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Alcide d'Orbigny and the beginning of foraminiferal studies.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Paris was a busy place for science. In 1794 the Reign of Terror ended with the establishment of a new government that was more supportive of the scie…

This guy! He basically produced all the fundamental stuff to do with the foraminifera (including giving them that name!) along with the first categorisation and identifcations of them (and some gorgeous illustrations). I have a whole module on these critters thanks to this guy (and others later on).

(Two different kinds (at least) of planktonic foraminifera - Orbulina universa (the little spherical ones) and a Globigerina species (the not!popcorn).

1. Top Center: “Trough” battery cell
2. Top Right: “Column” battery cell
3. Central Figure: “Pneumatic machine”

The glass bell on this contraption is known as the the “passive component” of this pneumatic circuit. Where an automatic gas compressor would be found today (the set of chambers and cranks to the right), is a manual gas compressor, vacuum chamber, and pressure gauge.

Steam age physics demonstrators are too cool-looking to not want to play with.

Dictionnaire universel d'histoire naturelle. Charles Dessalines d'Orbigny, 1837.

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Top: Common Opossum - Didelphis marsupialis
Bottom: Virginia Opossum - Didelphis virginiana

Stay in the pouch, kids! We can’t stop here; this is bat country!

Even though several marsupial families lived in the Americas before the last ice age, opossums are the only ones still remaining. Thanks to their opportunistic omnivorous diet and high rate of reproduction, opossums have survived in their current form for millenia, even despite their extremely low encephalization quotient. While rote brain volume does not in and of itself determine intelligence of an animal, mammals with smaller encephalization quotients tend to be more specialized and quickly speciated when hardships are encountered (such as ice ages).
Opossums in the Americas generally have an EQ around 1/5 that of the raccoons.

Didelphidae (Western hemisphere opossums) have very short lifespans, generally living less than two years in the wild, which is very unusual for a mammal of their size (up to the size of a large housecat). However, they can generally produce two successful litters of up to 13 young each in their short lives.

Australian opossums, while distantly related to those in the Americas, have furry tails, larger brains, and are much less urbanized. They also bear fewer young, live at least twice as long, and are less than half the size of the largest North American opossums.

Dictionnaire Universel d'Histoire Naturelle. Charles d'Orbigny, 1849.