Toucan Play That Game

A blog about life...literally

Mammal Monday – So Long, Solenodon?

The Hispaniolan Solenodon is one of several endangered mammal species that have been featured on Mammal Monday.

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Flamingos Are Lame! (Said Nobody Ever)

Flamingos are birds that can be recognized by their pink bodies, and their tall thin legs. An average flamingo adult height ranges from three feet six inches feet to almost four feet nine inches.That is crazy considering the average female human’s height is just around five feet four inches. These birds are water animals so they live on or around bodies of water. They can be found in “Chilean, South America, Africa, The Middle East and India” (Flamingo Facts). They receive their pink colored feathers because of their diet. The algae that they eat contains Beta-Carotene. Many other things they snack on also contain carotenoids which means soluble
pigment colors of red, yellow, or orange. Depending on how much carotenoid is in their diet can affect the brightness of their feathers.

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Winged Wednesday – Oop-Oop and Away!

Both the common and scientific names of this bird are derived from the sound of its call:

Listen to the call of the Common Hoopoe

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Are You Feeling Blue?

The Blue Whale is the largest animal to have ever roamed the Earth. This might come as a surprise, but these whales are not predatory creatures. This is a shocker because you would think to get to 110 feet long and weigh in at 209 tons you would have to eat a lot of big sea creatures. However, whales eat one of the smallest creatures in the ocean, krill. Blue Whales do not have teeth, but giant bristles in their mouths that filter feed. Whales will come on a school of krill and open their mouth and can eat a whole school in one gulp. The whales eat up to 40 million krill in one day, and I am sure now you can see how they reach their impossible sizes.
Once I was watching National Geographic and it was a segment over Blue Whales. According to them, whales will pass up a school of krill if the school is not big enough or packed densely enough. This is because the mouth on the whale is so big that it would take more energy to gulp the krill than the whale would get from the krill.

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The “Roots” of Flora Evolution

Unlike many evolutionists’ previous thoughts, flora evolution cannot fully be seen through its change in physical appearance. Make no mistake, flowers have more to their story than what can be seen on the outside. Ranging from Orchids to Marigolds, these flowers have spread to different parts of the world through many evolutionary mechanisms. Though some of their evolution can be seen through their change in internal structures and seeds, “a new theory of plant evolution suggests that the 400 million-year drive of flora across the globe may not have been propelled by the above-ground traits we can see easily, but by underground adaptations that allowed plants to become more efficient and independent.”

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More Than Just Genetic Gibberish

In the year 2000, when scientists sequenced the human genome, they discovered that humans had about 20,000 protein-coding genes in their genome, comprising of only about 2% of the total genome. The remaining 98% of the genome was noncoding DNA- billions of letters of seemingly genetic gibberish. Scientists called all of this noncoding DNA “junk DNA”. However, this view has been changing as more research is being done, and a recent study even shows that examining the noncoding regions of mammalian genomes can help us understand human diseases.

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Written by Sayan G.| Tagged | 1 Comment

Whale What Have We Got Here?

The humpback whale is a species of baleen whale. Adults range in length from 39–52 feet and weigh about 79,000 pounds. They are about the size of a school bus. They are known for their haunting and melodic songs. The humpback has a very distinctive body shape. It has long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is known for breaching and other surface behaviors, making it very popular with whale watchers. They are found in oceans and seas all throughout the world. The humpback whales usually migrate up to 16,000 miles each year. Humpbacks feed in cold waters, but they migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to breed and give birth. During the time when they are breeding, they fast and live off their fat reserves. In the summer, many humpbacks spend their time in high-latitude feeding areas such of the Gulf of Alaska or the Gulf of Maine, according to the NOAA. During the winter, they swim to the warm waters closer to the Equator, around Hawaii, South America and Africa. Their diet consists mostly of krill and small fish. Like other large whales, the humpback is popular. They were almost hunted to extinction and lost almost 90% of their population before a 1966 ban on killing humpback whales. Entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships and noise pollution continue to impact the population of only 80,000 throughout all the oceans and seas in the word.

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Eastern vs. Western: The Competition for Medicinal Superiority

Replace syringes with acupuncture needles, Ibuprofen with herbal medicine, massages with tui na, and yoga with tai chi – you will find yourself with the basics of traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The specific practice in the medical field has received much attention, spreading across the Asian continent before arriving at the United States. However, it has been debated how effective TCM is for patients compared to Western medicine due to its mysterious origins and unclear impact on the human body.

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Oh the Hu-manatee!

Manatees are considered one of the many organisms that are evidence for evolution. The sea cows (manatees) are not only ancient organisms with many ancestors, but were once believed to be land creatures due to appendages and other bone mutations. Today, manatees have appendages with fingernails and it is thought they were once able to collect things on land.  Since manatees play a significant role in the evidence of evolution, it is important to know how manatees became favorable to water and where they originated from. How did they become aquatic mammals and what evidence supports the evolution in sea cows?

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Finding the Fun in Biology: Poop Studies

Many different things cover the field of biology. From cellular respiration to macroevolution to anatomy of pigs, many things can be researched and make a living for biologists and scientists. Although many people think of biology jobs as wearing a labcoat, looking under a microscope, and writing boring research papers, many fun fields exist inside the huge overarching subject of biology. Some scientists do some crazy things to make a living, while others think of wild questions that make civilians such as us wonder how someone could think of such a question. The cool jobs of different biologists are an exiting way to see how people live, but also a way for people to learn about new topics and answers to questions that would have never been asked.
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The Spanish Flu

The Spanish Influenza virus was the deadliest influenza viruses in the history of the world. It was eradicated near the end of World War I. Once destroyed, scientists became worried of what would happen if another virus like this would infect people. In 2014 scientists were taking a new approach to the problem, they exhumed bodies which had been buried for 87 years, the victims of the virus. Extracting any tissue, they could find, specifically searching for lung tissue, scientists were looking for answers. All tissue extracted was sent to a genetics lab to search for foreign DNA which may belong to the virus. Once isolated, the DNA sequence was reconstructed, resulting in a living specimen of the virus.

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