Bronwyn BridenBronwyn Briden -Biology 111-

Leatherback turtles- #1

The Atlantic Leatherback Turtle is the largest turtle in the world. Most measure from 137cm to 178cm in length and weigh between 295 and 544 kg. They have rows of backwards pointing spines that they use to eat their primary food source, which is also its downfall, the Jellyfish. The species is reported to be endangered due to ingesting human-made debris i.e. shopping bags and helium filled balloons, that float on water resembling jellyfish. They turtles proceed to eat to debris and subsequently choke to death. Thankfully, many people now refuse to let go of helium balloons for this reason, but shopping bags are still the dominant problem.

Leatherback underwater.
Leatherback underwater.

Atlantic Leatherback Turtle
Atlantic Leatherback Turtle

The Atlantic Leatherback is the most commonly recorded sea-turtle due to the fact that they become entangled in fishing gear often. The Leatherback is also the "local" turtle to us, because they are usually found in the Nova Scotian and New Brunswick area of the Atlantic, but can be found as far over as Europe and as far South as South America. The largest Leatherback Turtles were recorded in Halifax County.

. (n.d.). Atlantic Leatherback Turtles. Retrieved (2009, October 1) from
. (2009). Leatherback Turtle. Natural History Notebooks. Retrieved (2009, October 1) from
*cannot find image reference

Jet-Propelled Bacteria...I'm serious here #2

Myxobacteria are micrometer-sized prokaryotes that glide along surfaces, leaving a trail of slime behind them. Scientists were convinced this slime was a lubricant, but in 2006, they discovered that the bacteria are actually expelling this liquid from their bodies through small nozzle-like openings in the cellular membrane, causing these little guys to speed along, similar to rockets. This discovery has great potential to be used in nanotechnology, as an easier and less energy leeching mode of movement in small robots, so says chemist Michael Rubenstein.

Merali, Z. (2006). Slime jetsthe key to bug propulsion. New Scientist, 2 545, 15.

The Cave Elephants...really. #3

In Kenya's Mount Elgon region, there is a herd of elephants who, due to a lack of salt in their diets, have found a way to supplement their shortage of minerals with an outside-the-box solution, mining the necessary sodium chloride from the walls of Mount Elgon. Much unlike the very ordinary elephants who live in the savanna plains of central and eastern equatorial Africa, these tusked mammals actually live in a rainforest. The torrential rains that occur during most of the year in their climate means no shortage of food, but the precipitation washes away all the salts needed for the pachyderms to survive. This dilemma forces them to take action, and head into the dark Kitum Cave, and mine the salt themselves.

The group of elephants move into the cave, strangely, at night, just when it is absolutely pitch-dark. As a group, these elephants will go as far in as a shocking 160m, and using only their keen sense of smell as their guide, scrape rather large chunks of salt with their tusks, and put them in their mouths.

Click for a video: Cave elephants
external image field_zoom04_h.jpg
None, Initials. (NA, NA NA). Howstuffworks- cave elephants.
Retrieved from

Associated Content, Initials. (NA, NA NA). Kenya's mount elgon cave elephants.
Retrieved from

The Giant Squid #4

On September 22, 2009, the world's first live-caught giant squid was caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately to both the squid and the scientists, the squid died on its unwilling voyage to the surface. It was caught by researchers (NOAA*) doing a routine test for whale studies, who, with their nets, caught something " really crazy" as said by scientist Anthony Martinez. Although not record-size, it is still 19.5 (6 meters) long, and weighs 103 pounds, which is no doubt quite extraordinary.The squids length may suggest it to be a female, and not a fully mature adult either.

*National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administrations


National Geograhic, Initials. (NA, NA NA). Giant squid caught alive, briefly, off u.s. coast.
Retrieved from

Solar Powered Tree Lights #5

Late in the year 2007, the innovative Solar Tree project was first unveiled in front of Vienna, Austria's Museum of Applied and Contemporary Arts. To produce these art-science fusion pieces, the world's leading company of solar cells technology, Sharp Solar, teamed up with Artemide, an Italian light fixture company, The piece itself is composed of steel pipes, each supporting its own lamp, with a small, yet efficient, solar panel on top. Adding to its efficiency, it uses Light Emitting Diode bulbs (commonly known as LED). It's popularly known that solar power is quite environmentally friendly, but lesser known is that using these solar cells is also economically friendly as well, making it a cheaper and more affordable solution than conventional street lighting.
The "Solar Tree Light"

None, Initials. (2008, January 5). Solar tree lights up the streets.
Retrieved from

The Cultured Chimps #6

A recent study concerning chimpanzees in the wild has apparently determined that they appear to show cultural differences similar to ours. The study, based solely in Uganda, concludes that various neighbouring chimp groups use different methods to solve sweet-toothed mammals' age old dilemma, getting honey out of the beehive. The Chimpanzees from Uganda's Kibale forest use sticks to extract the sweet liquid, while another population from the Budongo forest region use wedges of chewed up leaves that act very much like sponges to get their honey.
According to Klaus Zuberbuhler of the University of St.Andrews "The most reasonable explanation for this difference in tool use was that chimpanzees resorted to preexisting cultural knowledge in trying to solve the novel task,". Simply put, their culture gave them the knowledge necessary to solve their problem.
By "culture" , he refers to " ...a population-specific set of behaviours acquired through social learning, such as imitation," . In my opinion, this certainly illustrates that we, humans, are most definitely not the only beings to show culture, and also that we have the most effective method of extracting honey, by using smoke.

Taken from:

Science Daily, Initials. (2010, January 4). New evidence of culture in wild chimpanzees.
Retrieved from

Endangered Turtle Takes Flight and Heads Home #7

An endangered turtle named Anita made history as being the only live marine turtle to fly in the passenger cabin on a commercial liner on December 15th. Thanks to a gracious one-time exemption of regulations by American Airlines, this small amphibian was able to fly to her new home in time for the holidays.

American Airlines Logo

She was discovered swimming with much difficulty in a small pool of water by a group of research students. UNC Wilmington professor Alina Szmant, the supervisor of those students, concluded that Anita was most likely hit by a boat and had suffered extensive nerve damage, prohibiting her from swimming properly. Anita was treated as best as possible, and left with Curacao Sea Aquarium, where she would require intensive care daily. A few weeks later she was no longer going to be able to stay at the Sea Aquarium, and Szmant found a new home for her at Florida's Hidden Harbor Marine Environmental Project, widely called the Turtle Hospital. With the effort of Szmant, Anita was able to board the plane and go to her new home.
Anita with lead plate for balance.

More info: Anita

Science Daily, Initials. (2009, December 18). Endangered turtle flies home, in passenger cabin of commercial airplane.
Retrieved from

Video Games Increase Your Visual Skills #8

According to a recent study by Current Directions in Psychological Science, hours spent on playing video games appear to have its benefits. Video games, such as the Wii or Playstation 3, are proven to quicken reaction time reflexes among those who play. Three scientists, Matthew Dye, Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier, from the University of Rochester analyzed loads of data, and have found that players got faster at both the game they were playing, as well as a variety of reaction time tests in a lab.

Researchers prior to this analysis had believed that as reaction time decreased, they also became less and less accurate. The people at Rochester disagree. Gamers did not become less accurate at all, in fact, in some cases they had more accuracy.



"Playing video games enhances performance on mental rotation skills, visual and spatial memory,and tasks requiring divided attention."

Matthew W.G. Dye, C. Shawn Green, Daphne Bavelier. Increasing Speed of Processing With Action Video Games : Processing Speed and Video Games. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2009; 18 (6): 321 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01660.x

None, Initials. (2009, December 18). Video games: racing, shooting and zapping your way to better visual skills. Retrieved from

The Elephant and the Mouse #9

For years people have believed that elephants, nature's largest land mammal, is afraid of the reasonably miniscule mouse. It, for the longest time, was considered and urban myth. In one of the latest episodes on the show Mythbusters, Adam and Jamie have proven that wild elephants are, strangely, very much wary of mice. Their experiment was simple, one mouse released in front of a walking elephant. The results were surprising, with the elephant stopping abruptly and altering its course to maintain distance between itself and the rodent.

How can this be? How can a relative giant be scared of something so small? Well, according to some, elephants are scared because they fear the mice may crawl inside its trunk, wreaking havoc once inside. Another theory is that elephants, an often timid and gentle creature( save when they're rampaging), are scared of the mouses sharp, darting movements. Either way, it is quite an interesting experiment.

None, Initials. (N.D.). Are Elephants really afraid of mice?. Retrieved from

Understanding Written Language- How We Do It # 10!!!!!

We, as a dialectic species, have many forms of written communication. From the ancient hieroglyphs of Egypt, to modern English, we are writers. We write our history, jot down memos, or simply create stories. Writing is everywhere in our civilization, but how do we, as animals, understand it all? Dr Kyrana Tsapkini of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, may have found the answer. She and her colleagues have identified an area of the brain called the left fusiform gyrus, which is now, thanks to Tsapkini's research, is now known to control everything from rapid word recognition to knowing how to spell words as well as facial recognition.

None, Initials. (2009, December 16). How Do we understand written language?.
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