more biologists!

Sea Urchin-Inspired House Captures Tidal Energy

If you’ve ever dreamed of having a seafront home shaped like a sea urchin — who hasn’t? — then hold onto your swim fins.

The Hydroelectric Tidal House, envisioned by architectural designer Margot Krasojević, draws inspiration from some of nature’s weirdest sea creatures — echinoderms like starfish and sea urchins whose symmetrical shapes have long fascinated biologists. Learn more

First fully warm-blooded fish: The opah or moonfish

New research by NOAA Fisheries has revealed the opah, or moonfish, as the first fully warm-blooded fish that circulates heated blood throughout its body much like mammals and birds, giving it a competitive advantage in the cold ocean depths.

The silvery fish, roughly the size of a large automobile tire, is known from oceans around the world and dwells hundreds of feet beneath the surface in chilly, dimly lit waters. It swims by rapidly flapping its large, red pectoral fins like wings through the water.

That warm-blooded advantage turns the opah into a high-performance predator that swims faster, reacts more quickly and sees more sharply, said fisheries biologist Nicholas Wegner of NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif., lead author of the new paper.

Wegner realized the opah was unusual when a coauthor of the study, biologist Owyn Snodgrass, collected a sample of its gill tissue. Wegner recognized an unusual design: Blood vessels that carry warm blood into the fish’s gills wind around those carrying cold blood back to the body core after absorbing oxygen from water.

The design is known in engineering as “counter-current heat exchange.” In opah it means that warm blood leaving the body core helps heat up cold blood returning from the respiratory surface of the gills where it absorbs oxygen. Resembling a car radiator, it’s a natural adaptation that conserves heat. The unique location of the heat exchange within the gills allows nearly the fish’s entire body to maintain an elevated temperature, known as endothermy, even in the chilly depths. “There has never been anything like this seen in a fish’s gills before,” Wegner said.

“Nature has a way of surprising us with clever strategies where you least expect them,” Wegner said. “It’s hard to stay warm when you’re surrounded by cold water but the opah has figured it out.”

(read more) Science Daily || photo: NOAA || [paper]

What if You Were Born in Space?

Did you know that there has been an ‘uninterrupted’ human presence in space ever since November of 2001? That is rather awesome when you think about it, but all of the people who have spent time in space were born and grew up on Earth.

Okay, technically we were all born in space. But what would things be like for a person who was conceived and born in outer space?

NASA funds research programs devoted to studying a variety of aspects of living in space including the possibility of growing plants to the physical effects on the human body in a zero-gravity environment. These experiments are still in their very early stages since space travel itself is relatively new.

A woman has yet to give birth on a shuttle or in the Space Station nor has a pregnant woman even traveled in space. However, a few studies have sent pregnant rats into space so the development of the (Earth-born) babies could be investigated.

More recently in 2001 biologists Jeffrey Alberts of Indiana University and April Ronca of the NASA Ames Research Center sent 20 pregnant rats into space to determine some of the effects the zero-gravity environment had on the fetuses. The rats were sent in the middle of their pregnancies when the vestibular systems were beginning to develop in the fetuses. (The vestibular system in humans is a network of channels and sacs of fluid in the inner ear that regulates balance.) The mothers gave birth to normal-sized babies and were able to lactate and care for them normally. Even after the muscle mass lost due to the lack of gravity the labor contractions did not pose a problem for the mothers. There were noticeable effects on the vestibular systems of the space-based rat infants, however. The Earth-based babies were able to immediately right themselves upon being turned on their backs in water. The space-based babies had more trouble; some had to make a few attempts before achieving success and others were unable to do it at all. After five days of the same test though all the babies were able to roll over. The researchers also determined that the vestibular organs detecting angular changes were actually more advanced in the space-based babies, probably because their mothers were forced to roll around a lot on the shuttle due to the lack of gravity.

Sex is very difficult in zero gravity, apparently, because you have no traction and you keep bumping against the walls. Think about it: you have no friction, you have no resistance. But the lack of gravity is not the only issue making space births difficult. The effects on a developing fetus would likely be severe, perhaps disrupting normal embryonic development and even neurological functioning. A baby’s body and bones may develop differently in weightlessness.

If a pregnant woman flies in space and gives birth almost right away, the baby will be born pretty normal because it will develop in the womb very normally at Earth’s gravity. What happens then is very interesting.

The bone cells are programmed to grow; they don’t stop until you are a teenager or so. But it is gravity as a stress that makes the cells in the bones have the right alignment, or stack up properly and pull the bone so that it forms straight. Without gravity, the baby’s bones won’t get long and thin like adult bone. They will be very easy to break, and they won’t grow as fast. This is true for arms and legs.

The bones at the top of the baby’s head will actually grow thicker and stronger than on Earth. This is because your heart does not have to work so hard to move blood and other fluid from your feet to your upper body because there is no gravity. What happens is that the heart still pulls on the fluid in the legs, which now comes out much more easily. This causes the upper body to have more fluid and more pressure, which causes stress. Stress is always what makes bone grow and change. So, more pressure, more growth in the skull.

The bones in the hands will probably be normal because the baby/child/adult will use his hands just like on Earth. The feet will probably not grow much because they don’t get the stress from having the weight of your whole body on them. Ribs are interesting. Ribs protect your lungs and give support to your body so they don’t collapse. They would probably be okay, but develop thinner than on Earth, so they wouldn’t be nearly as strong. The spine is really going to be affected. The gravity won’t push/pull down on you, so the vertebrae won’t feel the stress, and they won’t grow. But they will get stress from the spinal cord as it grows and pushes out. You would probably end up with thinner, very easily crushed vertebrae.

Muscles work the same way. They need stress to grow and develop. Gravity is a stress force that pulls in one direction causing the muscle to develop in the right shape. So, if it is a muscle that won’t be used much (say, the muscles that move your feet), they won’t grow nearly as strong. Some muscles will be almost the same, such as your hand muscles. Other muscles, like your heart, will be different. Your heart won’t have to work as hard because there is no gravity to make blood circulation difficult. This takes a while to happen though. With a baby just born, probably the heart will never develop nearly as strong as a baby on Earth will.

Muscles and bones work together. The muscles are attached to bone, and they are very tightly connected. If you exercise a muscle, it pulls on the bone and causes a pulling stress. This helps the bone grow stronger in that area. This is why kids are told to play around outside when they are young - their bones grow very fast and if the child does a lot of exercise, the muscles get strong, making the bone very strong.

So, a baby born in space is going to have pretty strange and weak bones in most parts of their body. This shouldn’t affect them too much if they spend their whole life in space, but they will be in a lot of trouble if they come back to Earth. Their leg and feet bones will be too weak to hold them, the spine will probably crush under its own weight. The heart muscle will not be strong enough to pump blood around the whole body because of gravity pulling the blood down, and leg muscles will be too weak for you to stand. Basically, your bones and muscles will be much too heavy to support, and you will fall down in a big heap and die.

But if you are a baby born in space and someone drops you on your head when you return to Earth, your skull will be nice and thick.

[sources: x x x] For more info check this video.
Natural History Museums Are Teeming With Undiscovered Species
Tracking them down is a globe-trotting adventure that rivals any jungle expedition.
By Ed Yong

“That’s why the act of collecting still matters. A recent opinion piece, published in the top-tier journal Science, argued that specimen collecting risked killing off vulnerable species, and should be supplanted by audio recordings, camera-trap images, and non-lethal tissue gathering. It drew a loud response from more than 100 biologists, who argued that none of those strategies beats having an actual specimen. 

Biologists would never have identified the greater monkey-faced bat, or the sacred crocodile, or the olinguito through camera-trap images alone. The act of collecting sacrifices a few individual lives, but in return, it gives us irreplaceable information about hidden species and changing communities, about how our wildlife is reacting to our changing world, and about how to protect them in the future. The dramatic dwindling of the planet’s diversity—the so-called sixth extinction—makes such work more critical, not less. “There’s a tendency to see research on collections as inherently old-fashioned—a misconception of dustiness, or looking towards the past,” says [Kris] Helgen. “But it’s inherently forward-looking.” 

“It’s maybe not an intuitive thing that anyone should take dead animals and plants and lock them in a cabinet and keep them there for years, decades, even centuries,” he adds. “But that’s the business natural history museums are in. And it’s an extraordinary pursuit.” 

While this piece focuses on animal collections, all the points raised are true for dried plant specimens stored in herbaria around the world. 

  • Environment:so we need more space for animals...
  • Biologists:bridges.
  • Environment:wat
  • Biologists:big bridges.
  • Environment:that's not going to work.
  • Biologists:bridges. Clumps of land.
  • Environment:where are you going to get these land clumps?
  • Biologists:FROM THE CLUMP GODS.
  • Environment:...clump gods?
  • Environment:BIOLOGISTS PLS
  • environment:CHILL
  • biologists:*explode*


Epictia septemlineata, A New Species of Epictia (Serpentes: Leptotyphlopidae) Endemic to the Dry Forest of northwestern Peru  [2015]


Three new blindsnake species of the genus Epictia are described based on material collected in the Peruvian Regions Amazonas, Cajamarca and La Libertad. All three species are well differentiated from all congeners based on characteristics of their morphology and coloration.

All three species were collected in the interandean dry forest valleys of the Marañón River and its tributaries. This region is an area of endemism and warrants further attention from systematic and conservation biologists…

(read more: NovaTaxa - Species New to Science)

Koch, C., P. J. Venegas & W. Böhme. 2015. #Zootaxa. 3964(2): 228–244. DOI:

  • Interviewer:So what makes you qualified for this position?
  • Me:Anti-SJW, Anti-feminism, Anti-cultural isolation. Pro fucking logic. Send me your hate, its the only thing that gets me up in the morning. I’m pretty much here solely to debate/prove people wrong. So if you think you can pull one over on me, think your sociology degree has taught you more about biology than biologists? Think you can prove god is real? Think you’ll be the first person to actually offend me? Give it your best shot. We can do it civilly, or start a flame war, I fuck with either one.

A misinterpretation of Taureans are that we are “natural hippies”. That we carelessly bask in the warm breeze, under the trees, that we enjoy warm food indoors while it’s raining.

But we are actually very calculated, we see the order in chaos. We’re more “natural biologists”. We enjoy the Universe because we meticulously pick at things, admiring fields of green but keeping an eye out for four leaf clovers, sticking our tongues out during a sprinkle to see when a raindrop will finally land on our tongues, matching the beat of our footsteps to the sounds around us. We subconsciously are, “Everything happens for a reason.” It’s probably because Taurus succeeds the intelligent and headstrong Aries in the astrological cycle that in comparison we aren’t so smart, but in reality, Arians are just incredibly genius, and Taureans don’t really mind if people think they’re dumb.

Lungs of an American alligator have a more birdlike airflow than biologists imagined, as does the savannah monitor lizard (bottom row). Air flows two ways in the trachea, but deeper in the lung, it follows a one-way path (right panels). 

(via: Science News)

images: Alligator, from left: C.G. Farmer and Kent Sanders/Univ. of Utah; E. Otwell. Lizard: E.R. Schachner et al/Nature 2013

come out to the sea, my love (and drown with me); part 1

about: in which a mermaid and a marine biologist are more similar than different, hands are sometimes made of metal, and privacy is subjective. also known as that au i’ve been blogging about.

warnings: generally unhealthy relationship dynamic but not much you wouldn’t find in the show itself

note: part one of three, though originally parts 1, 2, and 3 not necessarily in that order. also available on ao3.

Keep reading
Stanford researchers reveal details about the unique feeding habits of whales | Stanford News
Stanford researchers from Hopkins Marine Station have captured whales' feeding habits on camera.
By Stanford University

Fascinating look at the feeding habits of the largest animals on the planet.

A 160-ton blue whale’s method for scooping krill is a tremendous endeavor. Swimming around 4 meters per second, it opens its triple-hinged jaws and takes in a gulp equal to about 140 percent of its mass, slowing back down to filter its snack and prepare for the next one.

Having a precise understanding of this process gives us some clues as to how these massive animals survive on such tiny prey, which in turn will help biologists develop more effective conservation efforts. 

honestly being an archaeologist would be relaly relalycool but like. indiana jones kinda archaeology not like the ones here in arizona thta find broken pots