no ordinary world

Cicadapocalypse!

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Tags bug, cicada, cicadapocalypse, insect, interesting, medicine, Nature, News

When the cicadapocalypse comes, citizens run from their homes and seek refuge in pretty much any place not overrun by whizzing, clicking, peeing monster swarms of insects. Just kidding, no need to fear.  Although quite a sight to behold, these insects are harmless.  While you may already know that cicadas are unique insects because they hide away underground and emerge as adults every 13 or 17 years, depending on the species, you may not have heard some of the more zany tidbits about them.  Here are some interesting facts about cicadas: Cicadas emerge in cycles of years that are prime...


Dragon dance

Meet Nessie the sea dragon.  No, she’s not the monster that has popularized a certain Scottish loch, but is in fact a very real animal related to seahorses and pipefish that roams the weedy beds off the coast of Australia.  Like a dragon, Nessie has a plated body to protect herself.  She is one of the masters of camouflage, a method of crypsis many animals use to conceal themselves from predators. There are two types of sea dragons, the leafy sea dragon and the weedy sea dragon. Nessie is a leafy seadragon, and indeed she looks just like a leaf...


Sticks and tricks: Bowerbirds use interior design and optical illusions to attract females

Human men aren’t the only ones to show off for the ladies.  In fact, their stabs at romance seem a bit shabby when compared to the courtship displays bowerbirds put on for females they are trying to charm. Imagine if a man built you an entire house and put all of your favorite things in it to get you on his good side?  A male bowerbird does just that, building a shelter or “bower” of sticks and elaborately decorating it with anything he can find to impress the female in question: [caption id="attachment_65" align="alignleft" width="300"] Bower of a Vogelkop bowerbird...


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...