455 posts tagged biology

17th March 2014
While most fish do not show parental care for their offspring, some fish (such as the mouth-brooding cichlid shown here) go above and beyond to protect their young. This protective behavior is typically exhibited by males of the species and is characterized by keeping the eggs safely within their mouths until they hatch as well as allowing the recently-hatched young to take shelter there.
Because young fish don’t always know what organisms are a threat to them, adults develop fin-flickering patterns that the young quickly learn to identify. When mom or dad wiggle their fins in a certain way, larval fish know a predator is nearby and to take cover in their parent’s mouth.
(Photo source)

While most fish do not show parental care for their offspring, some fish (such as the mouth-brooding cichlid shown here) go above and beyond to protect their young. This protective behavior is typically exhibited by males of the species and is characterized by keeping the eggs safely within their mouths until they hatch as well as allowing the recently-hatched young to take shelter there.

Because young fish don’t always know what organisms are a threat to them, adults develop fin-flickering patterns that the young quickly learn to identify. When mom or dad wiggle their fins in a certain way, larval fish know a predator is nearby and to take cover in their parent’s mouth.

(Photo source)

19th December 2013
Most often seen in an interspecific relationship exhibiting mutualism, the pilotfish (Naucrates ductor) plays the important role of eating parasites off of their host fish, which are typically sharks or rays. In return, they eat scraps of the kills their host fish make. The seven bands found along their sides may be used by the host fish to recognize them as friends and not prey.
(Photo(s)) Most often seen in an interspecific relationship exhibiting mutualism, the pilotfish (Naucrates ductor) plays the important role of eating parasites off of their host fish, which are typically sharks or rays. In return, they eat scraps of the kills their host fish make. The seven bands found along their sides may be used by the host fish to recognize them as friends and not prey.
(Photo(s))

Most often seen in an interspecific relationship exhibiting mutualism, the pilotfish (Naucrates ductor) plays the important role of eating parasites off of their host fish, which are typically sharks or rays. In return, they eat scraps of the kills their host fish make. The seven bands found along their sides may be used by the host fish to recognize them as friends and not prey.

(Photo(s))

5th August 2013
Like crocodile ice fish, Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) produce special  proteins in their tissues and blood that behave as an antifreeze. They grow slowly, reaching sexual maturity between eight and ten years and growing up to 2.2 m in length. They’re typically found on the seabed, but will swim up to feed on a range of prey items from fish to prawns. Because it grows so large, it doesn’t have many natural predators outside of some toothed whales and elephant seals. Antarctic toothfish do not have swim bladders, rather they have light bones and high body fat contents, allowing them to achieve neutral buoyancy (their density matches the density of the water they inhabit).
(Photo source)

Like crocodile ice fish, Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) produce special  proteins in their tissues and blood that behave as an antifreeze. They grow slowly, reaching sexual maturity between eight and ten years and growing up to 2.2 m in length. They’re typically found on the seabed, but will swim up to feed on a range of prey items from fish to prawns. Because it grows so large, it doesn’t have many natural predators outside of some toothed whales and elephant seals. Antarctic toothfish do not have swim bladders, rather they have light bones and high body fat contents, allowing them to achieve neutral buoyancy (their density matches the density of the water they inhabit).

(Photo source)

31st July 2013
While adamantly searching for what this creature could possibly be (to no avail), I found an entire world of arachnids that I knew absolutely nothing about. I only knew of most arachnids by name, not by sight. However, after extensive investigation, I have had my eyes opened to many gorgeous organisms, including whip-spiders (order Amblypygi) and now I’m enamored! The species within this order neither sting nor bite. They live in the tropics and prefer small, dark places, such as caves, under logs, and in leaf litter. Some species have a legspan that can reach up to 60 cm. The pedipalps (awkwardly bent set of appendages in front of their faces) are specially adapted to catch and hold onto prey, much like the forelegs of a mantis.
(Photo source)

While adamantly searching for what this creature could possibly be (to no avail), I found an entire world of arachnids that I knew absolutely nothing about. I only knew of most arachnids by name, not by sight. However, after extensive investigation, I have had my eyes opened to many gorgeous organisms, including whip-spiders (order Amblypygi) and now I’m enamored! The species within this order neither sting nor bite. They live in the tropics and prefer small, dark places, such as caves, under logs, and in leaf litter. Some species have a legspan that can reach up to 60 cm. The pedipalps (awkwardly bent set of appendages in front of their faces) are specially adapted to catch and hold onto prey, much like the forelegs of a mantis.

(Photo source)

14th July 2013
The giant mussel shrimp (Gigantocypris muelleri) lives its life entrapped entirely in its carapace. Even its seven pairs of legs are encased and nearly hidden from outside view. The brown bubbles at the center of the animal are its mirror eyes that see out through the transparent carapace. Unlike most planktonic species, the giant mussel shrimp lives at depths below 200 m, feeding on detritus that falls from the surface. When females of this species are pregnant, the eggs they carry are clearly visible through their case. Even being donned with the name “giant” mussel shrimp, these creatures rarely grow to an inch in diameter.
(Photo source)

The giant mussel shrimp (Gigantocypris muelleri) lives its life entrapped entirely in its carapace. Even its seven pairs of legs are encased and nearly hidden from outside view. The brown bubbles at the center of the animal are its mirror eyes that see out through the transparent carapace. Unlike most planktonic species, the giant mussel shrimp lives at depths below 200 m, feeding on detritus that falls from the surface. When females of this species are pregnant, the eggs they carry are clearly visible through their case. Even being donned with the name “giant” mussel shrimp, these creatures rarely grow to an inch in diameter.

(Photo source)

12th July 2013
The pineapplefish (Cleidopus gloriamaris) is covered in thick, modified scales that provide it with a suit of spined armor. Pineapplefish live under rock shelves and in caves. They prefer these dark places because of the bioluminescent light they give off along their lower jaws when their mouths are open. This helps them find their prey, like smaller fish and crustaceans.
(Photo source)

The pineapplefish (Cleidopus gloriamaris) is covered in thick, modified scales that provide it with a suit of spined armor. Pineapplefish live under rock shelves and in caves. They prefer these dark places because of the bioluminescent light they give off along their lower jaws when their mouths are open. This helps them find their prey, like smaller fish and crustaceans.

(Photo source)

12th July 2013
Conger eels (Conger conger) are a common sight for divers, much like their close relatives, moray eels. They are typically nocturnal, emerging from their hideaways in shipwrecks and rock crevices to hunt at night. Reaching lengths of up to 3 m, conger eels are smooth, snake-like fish with very powerful bodies. As adults, conger eels migrate in the summer to deeper waters of the Mediterranean and Atlantic to spawn and subsequently die. A single female can lay as many as eight million eggs, which will hatch into larvae that take between five and fifteen years to reach sexual maturity.
(Photo source)

Conger eels (Conger conger) are a common sight for divers, much like their close relatives, moray eels. They are typically nocturnal, emerging from their hideaways in shipwrecks and rock crevices to hunt at night. Reaching lengths of up to 3 m, conger eels are smooth, snake-like fish with very powerful bodies. As adults, conger eels migrate in the summer to deeper waters of the Mediterranean and Atlantic to spawn and subsequently die. A single female can lay as many as eight million eggs, which will hatch into larvae that take between five and fifteen years to reach sexual maturity.

(Photo source)

12th July 2013
The velvet belly lanternshark (Etmopterus spinax) searches for its prey—fish and squid—in the darkness. While doing so, its belly is illuminated by small, but bright photophores. As it’s a deep water fish, this adaptation helps the velvet belly lanternshark’s body be camouflaged against the faint light coming down from the surface so that predators below it won’t be able to see its silhouette. It is one of the smallest known sharks, rarely reaching lengths of over 45 cm.
(Photo source)

The velvet belly lanternshark (Etmopterus spinax) searches for its prey—fish and squid—in the darkness. While doing so, its belly is illuminated by small, but bright photophores. As it’s a deep water fish, this adaptation helps the velvet belly lanternshark’s body be camouflaged against the faint light coming down from the surface so that predators below it won’t be able to see its silhouette. It is one of the smallest known sharks, rarely reaching lengths of over 45 cm.

(Photo source)

1st June 2013
The dune snail bee (Osmia aurulenta) is important for pollinating sand-dune plants. Unlike honeybees, they carry pollen in the rows of hair under their abdomens.Males of the species emerge earlier in the season than females do and immediately scout out territories that include a snail shell within them. When the females emerge, they choose a mate and move the shell to be in the ideal position to carry and shelter her eggs.
(Source)

The dune snail bee (Osmia aurulenta) is important for pollinating sand-dune plants. Unlike honeybees, they carry pollen in the rows of hair under their abdomens.
Males of the species emerge earlier in the season than females do and immediately scout out territories that include a snail shell within them. When the females emerge, they choose a mate and move the shell to be in the ideal position to carry and shelter her eggs.

(Source)

1st June 2013
While there are almost innumerable marine arthropods, few—if any—insects are considered to be truly marine. Pictured above are shore bristletails (Petrobius maritimus), which live along the coast of the British Isles. They’re fast movers and use tiny spikes, called styles, on their ventral side to help grip slippery substrate. These adorable little insects spend their time feeding on detritus and hiding in rock crevasses. When disturbed, they can use their abdomens to catapult themselves short distances to safety.
(Source(s)) While there are almost innumerable marine arthropods, few—if any—insects are considered to be truly marine. Pictured above are shore bristletails (Petrobius maritimus), which live along the coast of the British Isles. They’re fast movers and use tiny spikes, called styles, on their ventral side to help grip slippery substrate. These adorable little insects spend their time feeding on detritus and hiding in rock crevasses. When disturbed, they can use their abdomens to catapult themselves short distances to safety.
(Source(s))

While there are almost innumerable marine arthropods, few—if any—insects are considered to be truly marine. Pictured above are shore bristletails (Petrobius maritimus), which live along the coast of the British Isles. They’re fast movers and use tiny spikes, called styles, on their ventral side to help grip slippery substrate. These adorable little insects spend their time feeding on detritus and hiding in rock crevasses. When disturbed, they can use their abdomens to catapult themselves short distances to safety.

(Source(s))

6th May 2013
A cicada of the genus Magicicada, which are known for their long life-cycles and 17-year emergence pattern. This year will mark the 17th year in the life-cycle of a large generation (Brood II), meaning the north eastern coast of the US will see swarms of these beauties and be overcome by the cacophony of their mating calls through the late spring and summer. Next summer, the midwest will see the emergence of Brood III. This phenomenon has been affectionately referred to as cicadapocalypse.
Despite being large and ominous-looking, cicadas are entirely harmless. They neither bite nor sting and they aren’t excessively destructive to vegetation or infrastructure.
Photo © Richard Leung

A cicada of the genus Magicicada, which are known for their long life-cycles and 17-year emergence pattern. This year will mark the 17th year in the life-cycle of a large generation (Brood II), meaning the north eastern coast of the US will see swarms of these beauties and be overcome by the cacophony of their mating calls through the late spring and summer. Next summer, the midwest will see the emergence of Brood III. This phenomenon has been affectionately referred to as cicadapocalypse.

Despite being large and ominous-looking, cicadas are entirely harmless. They neither bite nor sting and they aren’t excessively destructive to vegetation or infrastructure.

Photo © Richard Leung

23rd April 2013
The family tree of fishes, showing the evolution of major groups through geological time. Numerous lineages of extinct fishes are not shown. Widened areas in the lines of descent indicate periods of adaptive radiation and the relative number of species in each group. The lobe-finned fishes (sarcopterygians), for example, flourished in the Devonian period, but declined and are today represented by only four surviving genera (lungfishes and coelacanths). Sharks and rays, which radiated during the Carboniferous period, came dangerously close to extinction during the Permian period, but staged a recovery in the Mesozoic era and are a secure group today.
Photo © Hickman et al. (2003)

The family tree of fishes, showing the evolution of major groups through geological time. Numerous lineages of extinct fishes are not shown. Widened areas in the lines of descent indicate periods of adaptive radiation and the relative number of species in each group. The lobe-finned fishes (sarcopterygians), for example, flourished in the Devonian period, but declined and are today represented by only four surviving genera (lungfishes and coelacanths). Sharks and rays, which radiated during the Carboniferous period, came dangerously close to extinction during the Permian period, but staged a recovery in the Mesozoic era and are a secure group today.

Photo © Hickman et al. (2003)


I am Ashley, an incredibly introverted environmental enthusiast.
I'm studying to be a marine biologist.
I have a fierce love for all living things, a very broad sense of humor, and I'm likely too passionate for my own good.
Herein you'll find animals (especially creepy-crawlies), nature, science, art, some of my own photography, and occasionally a scattering of personal posts.
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