no ordinary world — adorable

Mystery underwater sand circles are actually puffer fish art

If you thought crop circles were strange, odds are you haven’t seen these: The underwater version of crop circles!  Some of the intrigue with crop circles faded once people stopped thinking they were made by aliens, but these sand circles are even more interesting to behold once you know where they do come from. So who or what makes these enigmatic sculptures where they are doomed to fade into nonexistence once the ocean erodes them away?  No, not an alien race, nor a group of people from of the legendary Atlantis, but Puffer fish! Male puffer fish craft their detailed...


From Marlin to Marilyn: Clownfish Change Their Genders! Bizarre Courtship and Mating Rituals in the Animal Kingdom

[caption id="attachment_73" align="alignleft" width="300"] Clownfish in anemone home[/caption] It turns out Finding Nemo had it wrong.  When a barracuda ate mom in the first scene of the movie, Marlin would not become a single dad, because being a single dad clownfish is impossible.  Realistically, Marlin would have become Marilyn- a single mom! Clownfish are protandrous sequential hermaphrodites.  In other more pronounceable words, clownfish start their lives as males and then change into females.  Why is this necessary? Clownfish live in sea anemones and have adapted so they are unharmed by the anemone’s stings.  Because of its unique mutualistic relationship with...


Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! What is a keystone species and how can conservationists use them?

[caption id="attachment_56" align="alignleft" width="240"] Lion (Panthera leo)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_57" align="alignleft" width="240"] Tiger (Panthera tigris)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_58" align="alignleft" width="240"] Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)[/caption] What do these three animals have in common?  No, it’s not that they’re all featured in a popular film.  It’s not even that they’re all at the top of the food chain, although that’s closer.  Lions, tigers, and bears are all keystone species. In architecture, the keystone at the top of an arch holds the arch together.  Without the keystone, the whole arch and building surrounding it will collapse.  Similarly, “keystone species” are animals that have a disproportionately...


Sea Otters: Adorable, Endangered, and A Keystone Species

  This cuddly creature is a sea otter, or Enhydra lutris, a well-known marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean.  This furry, playful fellow is more than just adorable, however.  Otters are a keystone species. In architecture, the keystone at the top of an arch holds the arch together.  Without the keystone, the whole arch and building surrounding it will collapse.  Similarly, some species of animals are called "keystone species," meaning that a whole ecosystem, or interplay between living organisms and their surroundings, depends on that particular species to keep it running smoothly....