eco sapien

Contrary to popular belief, the slow loris is not actually a venomous primate. Rather, the animal produces an allergen (Fel d1) from a gland in its armpit, which is transferred to the mouth when licked. When the loris then bites, this chemical doesn’t elicit a response because of toxicity; some individuals just have a strong allergic reaction. Quite astoundingly, this allergen is the same as that produced by the domestic cat. So in effect, if a slow loris is venomous, then so is the common house cat!

On a side note, can you see the small second tongue? It’s called a sublingua, and most likely functions to remove hair and debris from between the teeth - it’s basically a built in tooth pick!

Photo by David Haring (CC)

See: Krane S., (2003) “Venom” of the slow loris: sequence similarity of prosimian skin gland protein and Fel d 1 cat allergen

Reptile? No. Fish? No. Earthworm? No. Amphibian? Yes! This animal is a caecilian - in fact, the individual pictured here belongs to a recently discovered species!

Photo by Mark Wilkinson (CC)

See: Wilkinson, M. et al (2013), A new Species of Skin-Feeding Caecilian and the First Report of Reproductive Mode in Microcaecilia (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Siphonopidae), PLOS ONE.

Although this image just looks like a rock formation, pictured here is actually a species of chiton, Acanthopleura granulata. Recent research on this animal identified functional eye-like structures on each of the shell plates. Rather than being formed from proteins, these “eyes” are actually composed of aragonite, a carbonate mineral. Interestingly, the team of researchers concluded that aragonite can be used to form a lens effective both above and below water.

Photo by Hans Hillewaert (CC)

See: Speiser, D. et al, (2011), A Chiton Uses Aragonite Lenses to Form Images, Current Biology, 21: 8, pp 665-670.



New episode! - An introduction to: Insect Orders 

We’ve all seen insects, right? Scuttling along the forest floor, buzzing between flowers, or simply basking in the sun. But what are the different types and how are they classified? Phil gets to grips with taxonomy and illustrates some common critters you might see on your travels.


New episode out today! - The amazing world of Bats.

As night descends, many species of nocturnal animal emerge. Bats are by far the most iconic and amazing. Join David as he explores amazing bat facts in this introduction to the group.


The BBC have produced an interesting article about the purpose of Zoos. Very in-keeping with one of our previous episodes.

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Everyone knows what a moth and a butterfly is, don’t they? The differences between the two are obvious, right? Wait … what do you mean it’s not a straightforward answer, like we’ve come to expect from the world of ecology? Okay then, so just what is the difference between a moth and a butterfly? Phil travels to the Lower Derwent Valley National Nature Reserve to answer the question once and for all. Hopefully…


A corduroy jacket, a cute kitten and exposing misinformation? It can only be an episode of Eco Sapien!