Love in the Animal Kingdom!


Happy Valentines Day! I hope you’re having a day filled with gushy romantic stuff from your loved ones. I thought to get into the spirit I would share 5 of my favourite romantic stories from the natural world.

Two elephants create heart shape with their trunks while the sun sets in the background at an elephant camp in the former Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya

“It Could Only Ever Be You”

There’s lots of stories of monogamous couples in the natural world. Lobsters are not one of them (Sorry Pheobe) but another sea creature could be described as the most monagamous in all of the ocean! That is the French angelfish! Most fish do not pair for life but this species does to help protect their territory. They team up and are able to defend a larger area. There is another theory that they pair up because it can be hard to find fish friends to hang out with and make baby fish with so when they find each other they stick together. What hasn’t been proven is that they are sexually monagomous as couples, little minxes (oo-er I’ll try and keep the rest of this blog PC)[1].

Pair of French angelfish

Photo credit: The Smithsonian

“The Birds and The Bees”

This love story perhaps isn’t as sweet as some of the others on this list but bees have a rather unique way of showing other bees they care. Male bees tend to get rather excited when “showing their love” to female bees. Brace yourself for this one, male bees finish off there love making by having their endophallus be torn off and left inside the female bee. Yes, you read that correctly, the bee’s bits get torn off! This is because bee reproduction is a little different in that once a female has the sperm they can hold on to it until they are ready to lay eggs. Bonus for the male is that seals off any chance of another male getting a mating with her [2].

Image result

Photo credit: Alvesgaspar

“The King of the Swingers”

Green anacondas are some of the heaviest reptiles around, they are around 4.6 metres long and the females are larger than the males. They have a rather strange way of getting together. As they mostly live singular lives when a female is ready to mate they lay down pheromones, this attracts MANY males to the female. Then the female mates with all of them in what’s called a mating ball. Breeding balls can sometimes stay together for up to four weeks and females can end up eating some of her smaller partners! That’s love in the green anaconda world [3].

Image result for green anaconda mating ball

“Rocks equal love”

Exchanging of gifts is fairly common on Valentines day, Adelie penguins take this one step further. A male Adelie penguin, living along the Antarctic coast, collects little rare rocks to present to his beloved. The female uses the rocks to line her nest, and if she likes the rock, she will allow him to mate with her, Verdolin says. Unfortunately for the poor male, if he wanders off and another male presents a rock, she will mate with him, too.[4].

Photo credit: Robert Nunn / Flickr

“Cuddles and Kisses”

I’ve written about them before but I feel like this list justifies talking about them again. This species spends up to 60% of their time with their other half. It has been scientifically proven that they give their partner kisses and cuddles when they are feeling stressed. And the males will only every stray away from their mate when being plied with alcohol. It is of course the Praire vole. Look at how cute they are[4]!

Photo Credit: Dave Challender

I hope you’re having a truly mushy Valentines day! Let me know your favourite love story from nature in the comments or on twitter!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!






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Big Cats Documentary Review


Yesterday I spoke about how I want to read more non-fiction books, I also really want to watch more documentaries and learn more! The first series of the year that I watched is called Big Cats which was on the BBC in January. You can find the series information here. It was a three part series and was truly fascinating.


Lots is still unknown about the lives of big cats. There are forty different species of big cat and this series does an amazing job in showcasing some of those species. The series is beautifully shot and has some truly incredible scenes. My personal highlights were the rusty spotted cat, the princes cat kittens and the lynx and the snowshoe hare.

The whole series gets you really up close and personal with all of these cats. Many of which are under threat nearing the point of extinction. The third episode introduced the people who are spending their life trying to protect them.

Image result for big cats bbc

I think the main things I learnt from watching this series was that big cats come in so many shapes and sizes but each have the most fascinating features that make them a perfect hunter. The cheetahs are obviously fast but their tails help them turn quickly without falling over to chase prey who don’t run in straight lines. They are incredibly agile! The lynx has large paws that work like giant snowshoes which allows them to catch the agile hares in the snow and jaguars have an incredible jaw strength meaning they can crunch down on a turtle shell as easily as I can munch down on crisps! As for the king of the Savannah, the lion, they live in prides unlike every other big cat species and they are amazingly intelligent.

I also loved the styling of the programmes. The music they used was just as majestic as the big cats and the pacing of the programmes kept me enthralled throughout the whole of each of the three episodes. They showed how the documentary was made at the end of the first two episodes and they gave you all the scientific names for all of these cats (perfect for further research). In the third episode they highlighted how more is being learnt about these cats which for those not in the scientific research world is brilliant. They showed just how amazing and useful camera traps can be and how long and frustrating fieldwork can be.

Image result for big cats bbc turtle eating

Although I’ve always been a fan of the philosophy of look after the little guys in conservation, it’s also essential that we look after these big cats or thy could be lost forever. Like for example the incredibly rare Bay cat that is endemic to Borneo, the documentary highlighted that as soon as the rainforest is turned into a palm oil forest these cats find somewhere else. With a dwindling habitat their population will also dwindle. Documentaries like this really highlight the reasons why conservation is so important and why we need to protect the big cats environment. The third episode particularly left me with a lot of hope for the future for big cats but there is still more work to be done!

In conclusion, this series is wonderfully informing, beautifully stunning and if you have access to the BBC go and watch it now! Here’s a little teaser!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!





24 Science #Goals in 24 Years


Hello! So this past Saturday I turned 24, I did so in style with lots of treats and lunch at the shard. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about their goals and what they want to achieve. This is natural given the new year and I’ve also seen a lot of my friends sharing their 30 before 30 lists but I thought to commemorate my birthday I would do something a little different.

It’s easy to continue pushing yourself to keep going and never look back on all you have achieved. So here is me, sharing 24 of my science goals that I’ve achieved in my 24 years.

  1. Graduated with a bachelors degree in Biology
  2. Have a masters degree in Conservation (Haven’t quite graduated from it though, I have to wait til the Summer for that)
  3. Created my own piece of scientific research – twice (thanks to my dissertation)
  4. Gone to a scientific conference – And not been too shy to speak up
  5. Write a scientific blog!
  6. Met astronauts and NASA engineers
  7. Been able to operate a microscope without any assistance and actually understand what I’m looking at!
  8. Complete water and soil analysis with usable results and didn’t destroy the lab in the meanwhile! (I did have one small disaster in my undergrad where I put a soil sample in the automated shaker, the pot wasn’t done up completely and a muddy mess went everywhere)
  9. Been able to identify numerous plant species correctly (including moss species)
  10. Been able to identify lots and lots and lots of freshwater invertebrate species
  11. I survived doing my a levels (I salute all of you who are doing them currently, A levels are really dang difficult!)
  12. Won an international prize for scientific research
  13. Have a job in the scientific world
  14. Write for the woodland trust!
  15. Complete field work in so many different kinds of places which include being almost flooded when working on a rocky shore in Cornwall, working next to an active quarry with actual explosions happening and working so high up on the mountains of Snowdonia that the air felt a bit thinner (it wasn’t so much the air but the hike to get that high up).
  16. Gone to ZSL debates to hear the worlds best and brightest minds talk
  17. Attended one of the worlds best universities
  18. Interviewed some incredible people
  19. Given presentations about my work to lots of different groups of people – which is always scary and always extremely rewarding
  20. Started taking real nature photography – A new hobby of mine which I am falling in love with!
  21. Became involved with the scientific community on a bigger scale
  22. Written two dissertations and countless other essays and reports that were good enough to get me my degrees!
  23. I know what photosynthesis is and how it works and stuff (please don’t ask me to explain it, it’s so complicated!)
  24. Developed a love that will hopefully last a lifetime

I can’t wait to see what the next 24 years brings to me in my scientific career! Let me know what your scientific achievements are and celebrate how far you’ve come!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




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Latin – The not so dead language for science


I first heard about Latin when I was studying French in school, it was introduced to me as a dead language that no one speaks anymore but is the basis for many modern day languages. It’s one of the reasons why French, Spanish and Italian can sound similar. Yet when I started on my rather long quest to become a biologist I had to get my head around using Latin on a pretty regular basis. This is because all described organisms (that is all the organisms we know exist on this earth) have a scientific name which is in Latin.

How do scientific names work?

Scientific names are created using binomial nomenclature (that’s the posh way of saying the two word species name). It made up by genus name which is sort of like a family name and then the species name. The genus name starts with a capital letter and the whole name is normally italicized or underlined if being handwritten.

But why do we have scientific names?

Most species go under common names like the Badger which has a scientific name of Meles meles. However, lot’s of species have many common names. The book I’m currently reading stated perfectly that species with many common names are either really useful or deadly.

However, when a species has many names it can be confusing. I could be talking about Bison grass and you could be talking about sweet grass or peace grass and we could all be thinking we’re talking about different species when actually they are all one species. This is where scientific names come in. If we all instead referred to the grass by it’s scientific or Latin name Hierochloe odorata we would know that it’s all the same species.

By using scientific names in scientific reports, websites and texts it avoids confusion!

But why Latin?

Latin used to be used by academics across the world. In years gone by only the academics in every discipline that had mastered Latin were considered to be good enough. So when Linnaeus (the father of the modern day naming system) came up with the system it was a natural choice. Latin also is not spoken by anyone and therefore won’t be changing or adapting anytime soon. Therefore the Latin names mean the same thing three hundred years on.

Notable Scientific Names

Lots of species have been described and then named after famous people in the recent past. There aren’t many rules when it comes to naming a new species that you’ve found, just as long as you stick with the family name (if your species has a family it belongs to) and that you don’t name it after yourself (that’s just tacky). So as teams of people have been describing new species that have been discovered you’re bound to end up with some slightly interesting scientific names. Here are four of my favorites:

Hieracium attenboroughianum – A lovely daisy named after of course Sir David Attenborough.

Source: Novataxa

Begonia darthvaderiana – Just a subtle Star Wars reference for this dark plant.

Image result for Begonia darthvaderiana

Photo by jamessim18

Neopalpa donaldtrumpi – A beautiful moth with a familiar hair do!

The moth is under threat from urbanisation

Source: Telegraph

Scaptia beyonceae – a rare horse fly named after a queen B

Image result for beyonce species name

Source: Telegraph

Let me know your favourite scientific names in the comments or in a cheeky tweet!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




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2018 Plans!


Happy New Year!!!

I hope you have had a restful winter break with whatever you got up to. I thought as it’s a start of brand new year I would reintroduce this space and myself. Hi! My name is Laura and I am ThatBiologist! I’ve just passed my third year of writing this blog where new posts come out every Wednesday and Sunday. ThatBiologist covers all sorts of different kinds of biological topics with a lean towards environmental biology and conservation (as that’s what my degrees are in (you can find out more about me in the About Laura section)). I also take lots of pictures of the outside world which you can find under the gallery tab. I hope you’ll enjoy and stick with me for a while!


2018 Plans for ThatBiologist

I have some really exciting things planned for this year! My main goals this year is to be consistent with my blogging, I’m going to aim to provide new and interesting scientific posts that I really believe in every Wednesday and every Sunday for an entire year! I also really want to be consistent on all my social media platforms so that ThatBiologist will really be everywhere!

But first and foremost you might have noticed that this fantastic space has had a bit of a redesign. In my past three years of blog writing I have done very little to update the look of the website so it was long time I gave it a new look. I also have this brand new beautiful logo. I hope you enjoy the new look and let me know what you think!


Now in terms of content, these are the old series that will still be staying from last year:

The Little Things – I started this late last year and is a guide to small changes you can make in your life to make the world a little bit of a healthier and happier place.

Top 10s of Biology – Because who doesn’t love a listicle!

Conservation Conversations – Which took a little bit of a back seat towards the end of last year but another round of interviews will be available in the not too distant future.


The Poisons Collection! – This finished way back in 2015 but I’m bringing it back for series 2!

There will also be lots of new series coming your way including a new monthly series but I think I’m going to save that for the end of this month!

Thank you to everyone who reads my blogs it means the world to me and if you have any suggestions for things you’d like to see then let me know!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




The 2017 Business Meeting


So here we are at the end of another year on ThatBiologist, I have written two of these in the past to summarise how the past year on ThatBiologist has gone.

I am incredibly proud of this years series of posts, it’s definitely been a huge year for change as I have now finished my masters degree and started my first postgrad job! My main series that I was proud of this year had to be my Becoming A Master series. I’m really proud that I was able to document almost every week on my masters course and I feel like I gave a fair view on how hard masters degrees can be.

As with every year I am making room for new series which means old series are becoming archived. This includes my Mini Wiki series, obviously Becoming A Master has finished, The Monthly species and finally Fairyology. However I am very excited to be showcasing some new stuff next year and doing a revival of one special series!

Three Most Popular Blogs

My three most popular blogs in terms of views were all episodes of conservation conversations! These were for Nina Seale, Clayton Lamb and Holly Langridge.

But the three most popular blogs that weren’t from that series were The Disney Effect, Why aren’t all plant’s green? and July’s episode of the Monthly species!

My Three Favourite Blogs

Now I have written an awful lot this year so it does make it difficult to pick out my favourite blogs of the year. However, all of my favourite blog posts have been from my series Becoming A Master. It was fun to think of new topics and to write not months in advance! I would like to try and bring it back in a way so maybe watch this space:

In third goes to A chat about big game hunting. It’s a tricky conversation but one I enjoyed writing about.

In second goes to a week in the life just because I thought it gave an accurate representation of life in my masters.

In first goes to GIS: The Good The Bad and the Downright Ugly, if you were following my journey you know that I took a module in Environmental GIS it was one of my favourite skills I learnt but I did have a love hate relationship with it.


My best 9 photos over on instagram of this year! Come follow me I’m @thatbiologist there!

Thank you for all your support with the blogs over this year. I can’t wait to start again in the new year and produce even more content for you! I hope you all have a wonderful and restful winter break!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




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The Little Things – Gifts

Miscellaneous, Not Exactly Science

Hello, welcome to the second episode of my new series called The Little Things. If you didn’t know this is a series all about small changes that you can make in your day to day life to help save the world. Today we’re going to talk about presents!

I’m currently in the full run up to christmas, that means buying a lot of presents for my friends and family! This year I wanted to make a real effort to make my presents to my loved ones help the world out in one way or another. So I’ve come up with a list of five presents you could get your loved ones that help the earth out!

1 – Elephant Pants! – If you know someone who loves there PJ’s more than life itself like me this might be the perfect present. The Elephant Pants sell loungers, harem pants, kimonos and all things comfy! But better yet a portion of every sale goes toward anti-poaching of ivory, wildlife and habitat protection, and research on curing elephant diseases. Made in Thailand, the seamstresses are paid double the average wage and are given healthcare benefits! You can shop them here.

Tyke Unisex Loungers

2 – Devocean! – Perhaps you’re after something for someone who loves shiny things well Devoted To The Ocean has you covered. With every purchase of there gorgeous jewelry or beach essentials 20 percent of the net profits go to charitable organisations attempting to clear up the ocean and keep it safe particularly for turtles! You can shop them here.

3 – Nuubia San Francisco – If you are looking for a sweet treat for someone you love then look no further! These premium chocolates are made with no palm oil! As such they’ve been labelled orangutan safe and cruelty free chocolates. All of their packaging is FSC approved, oh and they look delicious. With vegan and gluten free options how can you say no! Note! This is probably one for my american friends as they are american based!!! Either way you can shop here.

nuubia chocolates

4 – Lush – I’m a huge fan of lush and if you know a lushie in your life you could add a charity pot to their gift. Lush do a lot for charity but 100% of the price of this specific body lotion is donated to small grassroots organizations working in the areas of environmental conservation, animal welfare and human rights. You can shop it here.

5 – Traidcraft – If you still want more choices then have a look at Traidcraft! They’ve got everything from homeware, food and fashion! All of their wonderful items are made through fair trade co-operatives. For example the blue duvet set I’ve listed below is handmade in India using natural resources, and its stunning! You can shop all of traidcrafts beautiful things here.

Please do leave ideas for similar wonderful things in the comments below!

Happy Shopping and Happy Christmas!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




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*Note – I have not been paid to mention any of the products in this blog post – I just think they’re all really cool!

Biology Presents!

Miscellaneous, Not Exactly Science

Hello! Is it too soon… can I really start talking about christmas! Well as I’ve been shopping since October, I guess so! I have a few christmassy posts lined up until I go for my Christmas break and today I thought I’d give some recommendations for presents for the biological people in your life!

1 – A Cellfie Mug

I love this cute mug that is perfect for any biologist! You can get it here.

2 – Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World 

This book is most certainly on my christmas list. I love celebrating women in STEM and this book does that as well as being simply beautiful. You can get this book on amazon here.

3 – DNA Bookmark

What’s more perfect to go with a Biology book than a biology themed bookmark! This beautiful creation is from etsy and can be personalised with your loved ones initials. You can get it here!

4 – DNA Art?!

If you know a true DNA connoisseur how about this!  This company makes artwork from your own DNA, I think it would hang beautifully next to some qualification certificates! Have a look at it here.

5 – Air Plant and Shell combo

This is perfect for those that aren’t great with plants but would love a houseplant. This is a combination of an air plant growing in a shell, I think it would look perfect on any bathroom counter top! You can have a look here.

On Sunday there will be some more present recommendations but with a different twist so stay tuned!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




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Have Yourself an Eco-Friendly Christmas!


Hello! It’s officially December and as I always take a bit of time off from blogging at the end of the year soooo that means it’s time to get christmassy! I have three posts that are all centered around christmas coming for you and today we’re talking about having an eco-friendly christmas!

Tip 1. Buy a real Christmas Tree but make it local!

Plastic trees are often made of non recyclable materials, so unless you plan to use it for a decade or more! Real trees are often purpose grown and in that time they can provide a habitat and will absorb CO2. However just pick it up from somewhere local and look for the FSC logo.


Christmas often means a whole heap of packaging! I understand that the easy option is to put all the junk in the bin but it makes such a difference if you recycle as much as you can. All of your wrapping paper should be going into the paper recycling!

Tip 3. Try and Cut Down Food Waste

Christmas is often a time for lots and lots of food. Make sure you try and make the most of every scrap of food you have. There are lots of fantastic leftover recipes out there but my personal favourite is a leftover pie! Or freeze things for a later date.

Tip 4. Get the lighting right!

My favourite thing about christmas is all the twinkly lights but not all lights are created equal. Certain lights will drain more energy which costs you more as well as the planet. Indoor LED fairy lights are a great option when decorating your home for Christmas. They don’t need much energy to run and are much more efficient than standard or even energy saving bulbs. LED lights generally don’t produce heat, making them ideal for decorating your Christmas tree and reducing the risk of fire hazard. Also utilize timers! All your Christmas lights should be on timers, from the strands adorning your trees to the lights outside. Don’t count on remembering to turn them off after a long day and plug the lights into a timer that remembers for you. Light timers can be found at any hardware store.

Tip 5. Presents!

There will be two more christmas themed posts coming up all about gift ideas for Biologists and for gifts that do good for the world. However, think about the presents that you receive and that you give. Try and keep packaging to a minimum and donate what you don’t use rather than throwing things away!

I hope you all have a wonderful christmas whatever you do!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




The Little Things – Water Bottles

Miscellaneous, the little things

Hello and welcome to a brand new series! This series is called The Little Things! We see a lot of news about how much of a dire state the world is in and it really is. But often these problems seem too big for one person to attempt to fix. That’s where this series comes along, all of these posts will be tiny changes that you can make in your everyday life that will benefit the world in the long run. Today we’re going to be talking about water bottles. I’ve spoken about the use of single use plastic bottles before in an episode of Becoming A Master which you can find here but today I want to go into more detail! (If you don’t have time to read the whole thing skip to the bottom to find a helpful infographic!)

Image result for plastic water bottlesWe all know that drinking water is incredibly important for your health and general well being. According to the NHS you should be drinking between 6 and 8 glasses of water a day and more if you are more active.

As many of us are busy working people having portable water containers is a must so you can try and drink enough water. In comes the handy plastic water bottle that you can get from almost anywhere! Not to mention that they are cheap! But I’m afraid that’s where the benefits end.

There are three main issues when it comes to using single use water bottles.

Issue 1 – To make water costs a lot of water!

It can take up to three litres of water to produce 1 litre of bottled water. It also takes up a huge amount of energy to make the bottles and transport them! 250ml of oil is used for every 1 litre of bottled water

Issue 2 – The Environment

As has been highly featured in Blue Planet Two, plastic presents a huge problem for our oceans. Many animals will eat the plastic and die, fish can get stuck in the plastic and filter feeders suffer from the ingestion of micro-plastics. Plastic is everywhere in our world and lots of our water bottles end up in the ocean.

Issue 3 – Reusing plastic water bottles can be harmful to you!

Many people will reuse the single use bottles however this can be harmful. Firstly because many do not appropriately wash these bottles which makes for a nice breeding ground for bacteria. Secondly if these bottles are exposed to heat like from being in a hot car or gym class, it can release a chemical compound called bisphenol A otherwise known as BPA. This can mimic the reactions of a chemical called oestrogen. In humans expose can be linked to different diseases but scientists are still unsure of how much BPA can cause different reactions. However, BPA can also affect many animals (linking back into my last point!).

So what’s the little thing you can do to help?!

Fairly simply exchange in your single use plastic bottle for a refillable one. They are all over the shops and come in lots of different designs! I have even found some stackable water bottles for those of you who want to keep your bottles in the fridge. The best ones however are made from stainless steel and will last you a lifetime!

This simple change can really help because you are saving water, energy and that plastic doesn’t end up in the ocean!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this first episode of the little things! Let me know on twitter whether you use a refillable water bottle and send me a picture!

The Plastic Water Bottle Effect Infographic

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




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