The Monthly Species: May

It’s the end of May already! This months species has been in the news for reintroduction in Denmark. This is of course the grey wolf.

Canis lupis

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Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Caniformia
Family: Canidae
Genus: Canis
Species: C. lupus

Size:

Grey wolves can measure up to 160cm in length and 85cm from shoulder height, however these sizes vary globally.

Diet:

As wolves are known globally diets do vary dependent on which continent they are found. That being said wolves generally feed on herbivorous mammals for example deer, goats and even bison. Wolves have been known to supplement this diet with berries and vegetable matter. This can include things like blueberries and melons but again varies on the location.

Life Expectancy:

Generally 7-8 years in the wild but wolves have been known to live up to 12 years or longer in remote locations and in protected areas.


Reproduction:

Breeding season occurs once a year late January through March. Pups are born blind and defenseless and there can be between 4 and 7 pups per litter. The pack cares for the pups until they fully mature at about 10 months of age when they can hunt on their own. Once grown, young wolves may disperse. Dispersing wolves have been known to travel 50 to 500 miles.

Conservation: 

Wolf populations worldwide decreased in the 19th century mainly through hunting. The populations are threatened from habitat loss and continued conflict with humans. On the other side populations have began to increase through an increase in protected areas and wolf populations have began to grow in places which were recently extinct from wolves.

The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:

Wolves have unique howls, like fingerprints, that scientists (and other pack members) can use to tell them apart.

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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The Future of ThatBiologist

Hello and welcome to this ominous sounding blog!

I have been writing here for just over two years! I love every second of it and everyone’s support particularly on twitter has been phenomenal. Now before you think anything too wild I am not leaving or stopping in anyway! I actually want to grow my blog and take thatbiologist to new platforms. I’ve been working on a podcast series that I really want to develop as well as keeping up with new content here!

To do all this I need some funds. I’d love to own my domain here and become thatbiologist.com as well as keep everything free for the masses! So if you do enjoy my content and would like to support it you can donate to my new patreon page. By doing so not only will you be helping me here but you’ll also get sneak behind the scenes access to what I’m up to.

Thank you for your continued support! Happy Biologying everyone!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – Field Work Beginnings

Week 26

Hello! So this week in my life I have finally begun my field work. I’m working on a project looking at the conservation of hedgerows. I’m doing this by looking at the biodiversity in the hedgerow and then comparing this with the management system of them. To look at the biodiversity I’m conducting a floral assemblage study which basically means identifying the species of the plants growing in the hedgerows and then identifying there percentage cover.

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great here in Cornwall in the beginning of the week. This meant a few difficulties like trying to keep paper dry and wearing lots of layers so I don’t freeze! I’ve also had to bring lots of specimens home to identify in the dry with all the technology to help me.

However on Thursday, there was beautiful warm sunshine which was much easier  (and more enjoyable) to work in. I even found some little Great Tit chicks which was a great find! I have also been trying to keep up with keeping my notes in order on my computer and updating them every day after coming in from the fields. This way my notes don’t get too garbled and I remember what the squiggles mean.

All in all its been a good first week of field work and has been very productive! More fun to come next week! If you’d like more pictures of my antics, the best place for that is my instagram!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Why aren’t all plants green?

earlyspring13 025a

As part of my time off I took yet another visit to kew gardens with a friend who had never been before. Every time I go I learn a little something different and this time I was wondering about colours of plants. Most plants are green in colour but not all! Today I thought we would explore why this is?

Why are plants green?

Plants are green because their cells contain chloroplasts which have the pigment chlorophyll. This pigment absorbs deep-blue and red light, so that the rest of the sunlight spectrum is being reflected, causing the plant to look green.

What other plant colours can you get?

Think of a colour any colour, you can almost definitely find a plant that colour! Often the colours are found in the flowers but some plants have different coloured leaves too!

Why do plants have different colours?

Often the colours are an adaptation to attract different pollinators. The colours come from different chemicals that absorb different wavelengths of light leaving different colours behind!

Hope you feel like you’ve learnt something a little different this Wednesday! See you on Sunday!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – London For Scientists

Week 25

Hello!

So the past two weeks in my life I have been preparing for my field work for my dissertation. This has included meetings with my supervisor to get my methodology down and writing my risk assessment as well as starting my background research. However I have also been taking some down time before my field work begins (its starting tomorrow eeep). This has meant for me lots of sleep and spending quality time with my better half however I live (in my opinion) in the best city in the world. So I’ve been able to go out and explore London! So I thought with this blog I would suggest a few sciencey tourist spots for people to go and find and learn more about science!

For the Beginner: The Science Museum

The science museum is just a great place to get started with science. It has a bit of everything from technology to biology to engineering. What I totally love about the museum is it has loads of bits to interact with which is great for kids (and grown-up kids) and its also 100% free to go in. I went to there cosmonauts exhibition last year and it was one of my favourite exhibitions that I have ever been too.

For the all round Biologist: The Natural History Museum

If you’re in London you will seriously miss out if you haven’t been to the Natural History Museum. It’s a stunning building and again 100% free to go in but the queues to enter can be super long at peak times. But don’t just go for the dinosaurs! The dinosaur exhibit is by far their most popular exhibit but make sure you go upstairs for the real treasures. My favourite spot is at the top of the central staircase where they keep some extra special treasures. I won’t spoil it by telling you whats in there but just go, you won’t be disappointed!

For the Botanist: The Royal Botanical Gardens – Kew!

By now it is no secret that Kew is one of my favourite places in London. It’s this strangely peaceful spot in an increasingly busy city. This is the first on my list that is not free to enter but holds some incredibly rare plants and is beautiful all year round. It has something different to see every time I go and is a botanists heaven.

For the Medic: Florence Nightingale Museum and The Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret

There are so many interesting medical museums in London. But two things that remain on my bucket list are these two. Old fashioned surgery is so interesting and without there advancements the modern surgery we see today might look very different. As for florence nightingale she is another fantastic woman that I cannot help but admire and want to learn more about.

For the Engineer: The Tower Bridge Tour.

London is full of engineering prowess. Its a city with so many different levels and its construction is something I have become increasingly more interested by. Tower Bridge in itself is a tourist destination and well worth a trip across but the tour provides even more insight. The engineering behind its movement is so beautifully simple and definitely worth a trip.

Obviously there are loads more and if you like your history of science be sure to look out for the blue plaques on the wall. You’ll be sure to see some of your favourite scientist’s names out and about.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this weeks update and I will be back next Sunday with an update on my first week of field work!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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The Little Mermaid: Are mermaids real?

“A mermaid has not an immortal soul, nor can she obtain one unless she wins the love of a human being”

Fairyology Episode 8

Image result for the little mermaid

Hello and welcome to another fairyology episode, this time I pose the question is it better down where its wetter? Todays fairy tale is of course the little mermaid. Now for a quick run down of the story. So the disneys version is a little bit different from the original fairytale but today we’re going to look at the original version.

Theres a mermaid that lives with her widowed father in an underwater kingdom. When she turns 15 she can swim to the surface. She then becomes obsessed with the world on land and falls in love with a Prince she rescues. She asks her grandmother about the humans and she then tells the young mermaid (Ariel) and she tells her that humans live for a shorter time than the mermaids 300 years but when they die their soul lives forever. Where as when a mermaid dies they turn into sea foam and disappear (have a think about that when you’re next paddling in sea foam!). Ariel decides she wants to live on the land so visits a sea witch. The sea witch gives her a potion that will cause her to become human but she will never be able to return to the mermaid world and the only way she will obtain a soul is if the prince marries her.

Ariel then takes the potion and becomes human. She becomes good friends with the prince but he doesnt recognise her as the mermaid who recognises him. He instead marries a princess who he sees as the one who rescued him. Ariel is now heartbroken. Her sister comes to the rescue with a knife for her to kill the prince. Ariel goes to do the awful deed but cannot bring herself to kill him. She chucks the knife into the water and her body turns to foam. BUT! She instead turns into an earth spirit??? and uses her 300 years doing good deeds. Yes well I now understand why disney simplified this tale!

So the science in this one has to be could mermaids be real?! There are a few theories on this one so lets get to it!

Theory 1. Manatees

The main theory behind mermaid sightings is that they were actually manatees. Now manatees hardly look like Ariel but often these sightings came from seamen. In the past often boats would carry limited supplies meaning these sailors were often highly dehydrated and suffered with scurvy. All this together meant they often started to see things and the manatees appeared to them as attractive women. So next time you see a mermaid just have a check that it isn’t a manatee and maybe have an apple with some water!

Theory 2. Hoaxes

Mermaids that have been “found” in the past were often pretty horrific. They were very popular in freak shows of the victorian era and were “obviously” hoaxes. If you’re brave enough feel free to go and have a look at the photos online but often these were a combination of monkeys with fish. Yeah, its gross…. moving on!

Theory 3. “Of course they’re real they just haven’t been found yet.”

Mermaids are so fantastical and genetically having half human half fish is just not going to happen. However my mermaid lovers out there should always remain hopeful! The ocean is such a mystery to scientists even now so I’m just waiting for the documentary where Ariel makes her first appearance!

Hope you have enjoyed this silly foray into fairyology! See you all next time!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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