In The Blood

BEDA 2018, Miscellaneous

Day 8 of BEDA!

We’re already one week down, I hope you’re enjoying the blogs so far. Today I’m going to give you the quick and dirty facts on blood. Why we need it and what do different blood types actually mean! Either way here are 6 common questions about blood answered!

What is blood?

The dictionary defines blood as:

the fluid that circulates in the principal vascular system ofhuman beings and other vertebrates, in humansconsisting of plasma in which the red blood cells, whiteblood cells, and platelets are suspended

What are the main functions of blood?

Blood is like the transport system of your body that is pushed round by the heart. It distributes nutrients, oxygen, hormones, antibodies and cells specialized in defense to tissues and collects waste such as nitrogenous wastes and carbon dioxide from them.

What is blood made from?

Blood is made of a liquid and a cellular portion. The fluid part is called plasma and contains several substances, including proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and mineral salts. The cellular components of blood are also known as blood corpuscles and they include erythrocytes (red blood cells), leukocytes and platelets.

What are the different blood types?

There are four main blood groups, A, B, O and AB.

  • blood group A – has A antigens on the red blood cells with anti-B antibodies in the plasma
  • blood group B  – has B antigens with anti-A antibodies in the plasma
  • blood group O  – has no antigens, but both anti-A and anti-B antibodies in the plasma
  • blood group AB  – has both A and B antigens, but no antibodies

Red blood cells sometimes have another antigen, a protein known as the RhD antigen. If this is present, your blood group is RhD positive. If it’s absent, your blood group is RhD negative.

Therefore you can be one of eight blood groups, A+, A-, B+, B-, O+ (like me!), O-, AB+ and AB-. Some blood groups are rarer than others (see below photo) and some blood groups are more prevalent in different races.

Photo credit: Quora

Why is it important that blood types match when giving blood transfusions?

Because of the different antigen present on different blood types it’s important that the donor blood has the same antigens as the recipient. If a donor has red blood cells with antigens not present in the red blood cells of the recipient (a lack of transfusion compatibility), the immune system of the recipient recognizes these molecules as actual antigens (or rather, foreign substances) and triggers a defense response, producing specific antibodies against those antigens. The transfused red blood cells are then destroyed by these antibodies and the recipient may even die.

Image result for blood types

Photo credit: NaijCast.com

Are there blood diseases?

Unfortunately yes, there are many different kinds of blood diseases. Some blood diseases include Leukemia and lymphoma which are blood cancers.

(Science Photo Library) (Credit: Science Photo Library)

Photos of blood types – Photo credit: Zimmer

On a side note most people can go and give blood! I do as often as I can. In the U.K. you can give a blood donation (that doesn’t really hurt at all apart from a couple of sharp scratches) and get many free snacks (biscuits and juice galore!), they will then tell you where your blood has been used. 1 blood donation can save up to three lives! It’s an amazing thing to be able to help total strangers. If you are interested you can sign up here – https://www.blood.co.uk/ 

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If you like this you might like these blogs too!

  1. 6 in 60 – The Blood
  2. 7 Weird Things That Can Kill You
  3. 6 in 60: Number 26 – Heart
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Blogging Every Day in April 2018

BEDA 2018, Miscellaneous

Hello and welcome to BEDA!

If you don’t know what that is well I shall explain. I tried this out last year and was mostly successful but it is where I will be posting a new blog every single day on ThatBiologist! This month I’m going with the theme of Humans!

I write a lot about the environment and other areas of biology but this month will be dedicated to all things Human Biology. Alongside the blogs will be a new photo on instagram every single day so check me out over there!

Last year I had a theme each day which is mostly true of this year as well. So:

Mondays – Weird Humans!

Tuesdays – 6 in 60 – It’s back again 6 facts that’ll only take you a minute to read!

Wednesdays – Humans 101 – We’re going back to basics taking you from birth to death

Thursdays – Disease Day – I’ll be looking at a different disease every Thurday, this might get a little gross.

Fridays – Genetics  – What is it and why your genes are so important?!

Saturday – Scientist Saturday – A little profile about a human biology scientist!

Sunday – Random!

I hope you’ll really enjoy these blogs over the next month!

See you tomorrow!

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Love in the Animal Kingdom!

Miscellaneous

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!

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References:

[Cover Image Credit] – https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/natures-valentine-incredible-images-show-684291

[1] – https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/is-it-love-why-some-ocean-animals-sort-of-mate-for-life-16907109/?no-ist

[2] – https://www.perfectbee.com/learn-about-bees/the-science-of-bees/honey-bees-reproduce/

[3] – http://animals.mom.me/mating-habits-anacondas-11544.html

[4] – https://blog.nature.org/science/2016/02/09/ten-strange-endearing-and-alarming-mating-habits-of-the-animal-world/

Big Cats Documentary Review

Miscellaneous

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.

big-cats-logo

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!

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24 Science #Goals in 24 Years

Miscellaneous

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!

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Latin – The not so dead language for science

Miscellaneous

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!

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2018 Plans!

Miscellaneous

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!

img_2836

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!

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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.

And…

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!

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The 2017 Business Meeting

Miscellaneous

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.

thatbiologist

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!

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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!

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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!

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