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Inflation of Moth Coremata

Description:  This viral video (with added sound effect) shows an entomologist inflating the coremata in a recently deceased male moth. This pheromone-producing organ will normally sit inside the moth but will be used during courtship to attract potential mates. It is inflated with blood or air. This phenomenon could be used as an example of how organisms increase their change of reproduction through internal and external structures.

Web Resources:  Inflatable Moth Butt Featherdusters - Wired, Hair-pencil and coremata - Wikipedia

 

Desert Beetle Harvests Water

Description:  Certain species of darkling beetles that live in the Namib Desert are able to harvest water vapor using an ingenious series of tips and bumps on their wing scales. The water droplets start to form on the tips and then flow off the waxy bumps to be collected by the beetle. This structure allows the beetle to survive in an incredibly arid environment. It could also be used by engineers to develop a similar system for collecting water for humans. Students should use this and other plants and animal phenomenon to start designing their own solutions to human problems.

Web Resource: Water Vapor Harvesting - Ask Nature, Darkling Beetles  

 

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

 
mouthbrooder.jpg

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

 

Shrew Caravan

Description:  Shrews spend most of their lives underground and therefore have very poor eyesight. They rely primarily on their highly developed senses of smell and hearing. When a mother shrew wants to move all of her offspring from one location to another (particularly above ground) each shrew will hold onto the shrew in front forming a long caravan. This could be used as a phenomenon to introduce animal behaviors, especially those of a parent to ensure the safety of their offspring.

Web Resource:  Common Shrew - Wikipedia

 

Alligators Survive In Ice

Description: As ice covers a lake, the alligators will leave their nostrils out of the water, sometimes frozen in place. Since the alligators are ectothermic (receiving body heat from their environment) they will enter into a state of dormancy called brumation. This amazing phenomenon could be used as an example of successful animal behavior or a form of homeostasis.

Web Resources:  Alligators 'Snorkel' to Survive Ice-Covered Swamp - Live Science, Reptile Brumation - South Carolina Aquarium

 

Crown Shyness

Description:  In this phenomenon the crowns of certain trees do not touch. The physiological mechanism and cause of this phenomenon is not clearly understood. Since it appears in several species of trees that are not directly related it may be an example of convergent evolution. Students could speculate on why this occurs and in the upper levels may attempt to determine the mechanism of crown shyness.

Web Resource:  Crown shyness - Wikipedia

 

Why Do Sunflowers Follow the Sun?

Description:  This is an excellent phenomenon that can be used in many different units. According to researchers only young sunflowers will follow the Sun. These flowers are following a natural circadian rhythm to receive the most light for photosynthesis. However when they mature the flowers will mainly face east. The reason for this is fairly simple, bees like warm flowers, and the flowers facing the east are the warmest.

Web Resources:  The Mystery Of Why Sunflowers Turn To Follow The Sun — Solved - NPR, Helianthus - Wikipedia

 

Can Prairie Dogs Talk?

Description: Biology Professor Con Slobdochikoff and his team have shown that prairie dogs have a complex language for communicating danger from predators. Dogs, badgers, coyotes, and humans all have distinctive calls to alert the other members of the colony. Dr. Slobdochikoff has even shown that these warning calls can have descriptors (e.g. a large human with a green shirt is approaching). This phenomenon can be used to show the advantages of group living as well as information sensation, processing, and behavior / memory formation.

Web Resource:  Can Prairie Dogs Talk? - The New York Times

 
Priaire Dog.jpg

Air Plants - No Soil Needed

Description:  Air plants (Aerophytes) don't require soil to grow so they can use used as an introductory phenomenon as your students explore plant needs. Air plants live in areas with high humidity and are generally epiphytes (plants that live on but are not parasites of) living on larger trees. Air plants obtain the water they need to survive from the environment so they must either be misted or occasionally dipped in water.

Web Resource: Air Plant Care - HGTV, Air Plant Supply Co.