Category Archives: Curiosities of Nature

The Extreme Life of the Sea

The Extreme Life of the Sea by father-son team Stephen R Palumbi (marine biologist) and Anthony R Palumbi (science writer & novelist) was, to me, like a grown-up version of some of my favorite childhood books – books of interesting animal facts, like how high a mountain lion can jump or how fast a house fly can fly.

The Extreme Life of the Sea is less narrative and more an enthusiastic sharing of cool things in the sea, which are loosely tied together in thematic sections. It is not, however, just a collection of “gee whiz” facts. The compelling vignettes help to convey broader concepts of science and nature with excitement and enthusiasm.

Most of all, the Palumbis remind the reader that science and nature are not just important, they are fun. Continue reading

LOLemur, the Movie

Good friends of The Finch & PeaCristina Russo, John Romano, and Chris Smith – collaborated to turn their visit* to the Duke Lemur Center into this video.

“LOLemur” is my name for my occasional habit of attempting to caption lemur pictures as if they were LOLcats; but imagine if LOLcats were actually cute, intelligent, and charming.

I’d also ask you to keep an eye on the Twittersphere for our efforts to guilt Ocean Spray into donating a mere 260 pounds** of the lemurs favorite treat, Craisins, to the Duke Lemur Center each year.

*Chris Smith was not visiting. He works there; but he likes what he does.

**According to the head keeper at the Duke Lemur Center, 250 lemurs combine to eat 5 pounds of Craisins each week.

Meet the Finnish Forest Magic

The following narrative was written by my very good friend and colleague, Stephen Heap (University of Jyväskylä in Finland). He is a soft-spoken and incredible storyteller and this is a story about a forest survey, but really so much more.

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Story of the Forest by Stephen Heap, PhD

The pale sun of an autumn dawn shines through the trees to illuminate a shallow valley. Brown ferns, fading into death with the chill of the coming winter, are speckled across a mat of green moss. Trees placidly stand on either side of the valley, comfortably watching the scene below. Their shadows leave dark bars across the floor. The subdued shade accentuates the brighter patches, which shine with a golden luster like the skin of a sensuous lover in a sunlit bedroom. Continue reading

Growing up Sea Turtle

NEW LINKONOMICON ENTRY: “Where Do Baby Sea Turtles Go During Their Lost Years?” by Ed Yong in Not Exactly Rocket Science at National Geographic Phenomena

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Hatchling sea turtle heads toward the North Hartsville Gyre (Photo Credit: Josh Witten; CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Ever wonder where baby sea turtles go to grow up – those awkward middle years between hatchlings racing through a seagull flock of attrition and being nearly impervious adults?

My kids have. Until now, I had to tell them “I don’t know.” Not just because I didn’t know, but because no one really knew. There were guesses, but there wasn’t evidence.

Read Ed Yong’s great piece at National Geographic Phenomena to hear the clever way researchers from the University of Central Florida collected data to back up (mostly) some well-reasoned hypotheses.

Meet the Hookworm

hookworm-07022012-04Recently, the genome of the American hookworm, Necator americanus was completed (read more here). In celebration of this achievement, the American hookworm is our cool animal of the week. Also, parasitic nematodes just really don’t get enough love and attention, so it is time to honor them.

The American hookworm is picked up by humans and other mammals from the soil and then feeds on blood before making a home in the small intestine. An estimated 700 million people are affected by this parasite worldwide and unfortunately none are investment bankers or other financial district employees (because that would be amazing–parasites living within the parasites of society….soo meta and karmic).

You can protect yourself from hookworm, by simply wearing shoes which means that poor people from developing nations are overwhelmingly the afflicted majority.

Hookworm FootCheck out the sensational (in a ridiculous way) video on hookworms by Animal Planet.

If you want to help–donate money to a world health organization, which can build proper latrines and put down cement, instead of buying a pair of TOMS shoes.

“Meet the…” is a collaboration between The Finch & Pea and Nature Afield to bring Nature’s amazing creatures into your home.