January 2012 | Blogs
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Do Sea Urchins Have Eyes?
Have you ever see a sea urchin? The word sea urchin comes from the Old English word that means spiny hedgehog -- that is a pretty good description! It looks like a plant, but it's not one. It is an animal, specifically an invertibrate, that lives in salt water. An invertibrate is an animal without a backbone. If you look closely, you will see that it does not have any eyes. So how does it see? Image from University of Gothenburg Scientists have found that sea urchins have light-senstive receptor cells that act like retinas. These cells are found in sea urchins feet and among their 1,400 spines. Essentially, the sea urchin itself acts...
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Solar Storm is Impacting Earth Right Now
Right now a strong storm is taking place on the sun that is releasing solar flares and photons that are bombarding the Earth. On Sunday night, the sun released a coronal mass ejection which is magnetic energy stored in the suns atmosphere. This eruption caused electromagnetic radiation, radiation in the form of protons and finally plasma to be released into space, some of which is hitting Earth. The plasma may cause some problems on Earth by interrupting satellite communications and affecting some aircraft traveling near the poles. This storm is considerably weaker than the a storm in 1989 which caused a massive blackout in Quebec. A...
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Plankton -- Why Is It So Important?
Plankton are tiny living creatures that we never think about, yet they are extremely important to our Earth as a source of almost 50% of our oxygen and a major source of food for sealife. Plankton are tiny plants and animals in oceans and lakes. Sometimes they are so small, you cannot see them with your naked eye. When they mass together, they can make oceans look green or cause dark spots in the water when seen from above. There are two main categories of plankton: phytoplankton and zooplankton. Phytoplankton is extremely important to all life on Earth. Phytoplankton are tiny plants that live in water and do not have roots or leaves. The...
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Anthias: The Fish That Can Change Gender
We were at the Shedd Aquarium and came across a tank of beautifully colored fish called anthias and were intrigued by the caption that said "...these colorful fish have the ability to change sex". We were determined to learn more! Anthias are rather small fish (1 1/2 to 5 inches long) that sport a wide range of colors including orange, pink, purple and green. They live in tropical oceans and seas around coral reefs. Anthias eat zooplankton, microscopic animals that float in the water. Anthias were named by Carl Linneaus back in 1758. Linneaus was an important person in the history of science as he was the Swedish botanist known...
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
What is this fish?
We were at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and encountered a really interesting fish: the paddlefish. Paddlefish are aptly named as they have a long, paddle-shapped snout. The snout is about one-quarter of the paddlefish's total length of five feet. When you look at a paddlefish, its snout looks like it would be used to dig in the riverbed for food. Actually, paddlefish use their snouts (technical term is rostrum) as antena. They have around 70,000 electroreceptor cells in their rostrum and the skin of their heads that they use to detect weak electrical fields in the water. This is used to to detect zooplankton, communicate, and navigate....
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Is it a dinosaur? No, it is the rare Blue Iguana
Look at this picture - it looks like a dinosaur, doesn't it? Do you see the spikes, plates around its legs and powerful tail? Actually, this is a Grand Cayman Blue Iguana, the rarest iguana on Earth. There are only around 350 left in the wild. Blue iguanas grow to be 5 feet long and are vegetarians. They eat leaves, flowers and fruit. The iguana in this picture looks pretty green, but during mating season the males turn an electric blue and the females a powder blue to attract each other. The females lay their eggs in nests and 60 to 90 days later, the eggs hatch and the baby iguanas scatter off to live on their own. Iguanas like...
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