Mouthbrooding Fish

Description:  Lake Malawi contains a curious species of fish (ciclid) that hold their offspring in their mouth as they grow and develop. The eggs are fertilized and then help in the mouth until the offspring are able to survive on their own. The parents can still feed while they are taking care of the young but they will generally not feed as much. This phenomenon could be used to explore parental care and could be extended to discuss evolution of this interesting adaptation in this lake.

Web Resource:  Mouthbrooding - Wikipedia


Corn Cob Sprouting in Water

Description:  This dramatic time lapse shows corn kernels sprouting over time. Each of the kernels represents a new corn plant and so corn cobs represent a wonderful organism for studying genetics. In elementary this phenomenon can be used to show what plants need to survive. In secondary students can investigate specific crosses, analyze patterns in the offspring, and could even study transposons "jumping genes".

Web Resources:  Why Is Our Corn Changing? - Next Gen Storylines, Corn Genetics - Biology4Friends, Corn Genetics - Wikipedia


Male Water Bug with Eggs

Description:  Water bugs show parental care for their offspring. The eggs are laid on the back of the male and he guards them for roughly a week before the nymphs emerge. This phenomenon could be used to show how the behavior of parents helps the offspring survive. Offspring of these (and other invertebrates) could also be compared to show inheritance and variation.

Web Resource:  Water Bug Breeding - Wikipedia


Hemingway’s Polydactyl Cats

Description:  The author Ernest Hemingway was given a six-toed cat that his son named Snow White. His former home in Key West, Florida was turned into a museum and houses nearly 50 cats that are ancestors of this original cat. Cats with extra digits are called polydactyl cats and have inherited a dominant gene. Roughly half of the cats are polydactyl. This phenomenon could be used to study inheritance and variation.

Web Resources:  Hemingway Cats: The Felines That Rule Papa's Key West Estate - Paw Culture, Polydactyl Cats - Wikipedia


Attack Of The Killer Fungi

Description:  The cordyceps fungi has a fascinating life cycle. Spores from the fungi are ingested by an insect (like an ant). The fungi takes over the insect causing it to climb to a high branch and hold tight with its mandibles. A fruiting body then emerges from the head of the insect and spreads more spores that infect more insects. Different species of cordyceps infect different species of insects. This phenomenon can be used to introduce the diverse and unique life cycles found in organisms.

Web Resource:  Cordyceps Fungi - Wikipedia


A Peacock's Tail

Description: The tail of the male peacock is a great example of sexual selection. Female peafowl are attracted to male peacocks with the largest and most ornate train. The ability of male peacocks to create a large train is related to their overall fitness. Therefore females are more likely to have healthy chicks if they mate with a male with the largest train. Scientists were able to measure female choice by trimming the trains of normally healthy male peacocks which led to them not being selected as potential mates.

Web Resources:  A Peacock’s Tail - The Guardian, Evolution and Sexual Selection in Peafowl - Wikipedia