Friday, February 27, 2015

"The strongest natural substance know to man is .... sea snail teeth"

I though this article was pretty interesting and surprising.

Limpets are type of mollusks commonly found in marine habitats. Phylum Mollusca includes clams, snails, slugs, octopus, limits, and many other marine and terrestrial invertebrates. The limpets have a rasping tongue (a radula)  that has teeth on it. The limpet teeth are already known to help them adhere to the turbulent rocky intertidal zone causing oval "scars" on the rock. Each of the fangs on the tongue are less than a millimeter in length but they have this strength.

Who knows, maybe limpet teeth will be used in more commercial applications soon?

For the article go to:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pickled Creatures

Having spent a good amount of time in a natural history museum for the last two years, I was delighted by our visit to CCBER. As we were wandering around the herp collections, I was reminded of a cool way to preserve/study small specimens, called clear and stain.

Essentially, a preserved specimen is placed in a solution that stains cartilage, then is bleached and placed in a sodium borate/trypsin solution to clear pigments from the tissue, and finally is placed in a solution that stains bone. The result is an excellent model for studying the (skeletal) anatomy of the specimen:

E. sorosum salamander 

I don't know why this frog has so many limbs....but for more cool clear and stain images, visit:

Alizarin is used to stain the bones red, and alcian blue is used to stain cartilage. The specimens are stored in glycerol (rather than ethanol).
This is an old paper (1952) regarding the methods of clear and stain, by Margaret Green from Ohio State's pretty short, if you're interested:

p.s. if you just google "stain and clear" instead of "clear and stain" google will give a list of links about wood finishing techniques.

Complete tangent: If any of you are interested in evolutionary biology and are looking for a summer opportunity, you should check out the NSF REU for the California Academy of Sciences....

Friday, February 20, 2015

Awesome Documentary

 I just watched this documentary on Netflix, pretty awesome.

The Ebola outbreak is also fascinating, particularly in the setting of Liberia. Serious shock value, VICE is great.
Also, the Ebola outbreak is fascinating, particularly in the place where it's located, Liberia and west Africa. Significant shock value. VICE news is great.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Gymnosperm animation

Here are the Gymnosperm reproduction videos I mentioned. The first one is very short and a little obvious but I liked the second and third ones a lot. I thought they really helped in visualizing what is going on.