Saturday, June 11, 2011

Why Moths Fly Into Candle Flames.

If you ever sit outside on a summer’s night after a barbecue and watch the havoc around a light as moths and midges bash off the hot illumination and ask why they do that! Worse again, watch as a moth appears to commit suicide as it carriers into a burning candle flame and inflicts a painful and certain death upon itself.
There is an explanation for this and it has to do with the insect navigation.  The compound eyes of an insect contain lots of optical tubes radiating out from the centre of the eye. The insect uses the light from the sky as part of its navigation. Light hits specialised eye cones at an angle of 30 degrees and the insect uses this light to travel in a straight line. 
Our six legged friends have been around for millions of years and artificial light has only been around for around 50,000 years. When a moth sees an artificial light it throws its navigation out of sync causing it to fly around the flame in a spiral till the circle gets tighter and then in the case of a candle woof he goes up in flames!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

We All Started Life Looking Like A Fish

Fact. If you look at an embryo of a fish, lizard, bird, horse or man you will notice how similar we all are to each other.  As the embryo develops, so do our differences and similarities.  A fish develops gills which it will use to breath.   For mammals our inner ear develops from the same components as the gill to make our ear including the canal, incus and staples.  Birds have similar three chambered ears as mammals where as reptiles use their lower jaw to hear.  As we develop and become mammals, fish become fish, birds became birds and reptiles became reptiles.We all have so much in common, a spine and four limbs and a head to name a few.

If you look at skeletons of birds you will find they have 5 fingers as part each of their two wings same goes for bats, horses have five fingers except they are formed differently and are elongated into a hoof, all mammals,  birds and reptiles have four limbs as do whales and dolphins.
Our heads are an enlarged vertebra which protects our brain; our fingernails are made of the same substance as fish and reptile scales. The same substance (keratin) makes feathers on birds’ horns on rhino and hair on our heads.

We share a lot of our genes with insects, worms, fleas, spiders and vegetables the only difference is that they are sequenced differently and when activated they build different traits.  In theory we could by turning on the right DNA sequence produce humans with wings and beaks, tusks or scales or humans with gills and webbed feet, long necks like giraffes and with the trunk of an elephant 
In 65 million years  little mouse like creatures (our ancestors) thrived due to the demise of dinosaurs  and were responsible  through  evolution for humans, whales, dogs, cats, apes and cows to name a few. 
360 million years ago mammals, including dinosaurs (reptiles) evolved from amphibians and migrated onto land as it was probably safer to lay its eggs on Terra Firma than in the water, if we go back millions and millions of years earlier again fish evolved from shrimp like creatures then shrimp like creatures from tiny plankton all the way back to little microbes and singular cell organisms.

So what does it all mean!  Not much to most of us, but thanks to human knowledge of our genetic past which is a history book of our existence contained in our own DNA, it can help us understand more about our bodies, help create new better medicine for the prevention of disease which  improves quality and length of life.
For me it just makes the natural world that bit more fascinating

For further reading, this book is great - Your Inner Fish by Neil Shuban 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bees With High Milage

It is estimated that the average honey bee will fly a total of about 500 miles (800 kilometers) in its lifetime.
The life span of your average bee is 4-6 weeks though Queens have been known to live as long as 4 years.
The average worker bee makes about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in their short existence.That dribble of honey on the side of the jar could be the complete life's work of a half dozen of honey bees.So lick it off in their honor so their lives and hard work won't have been in vein!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Recipe To Make Mice From Dirty Under-Pants

Spontaneous generations is where animals just appear with out of nowhere, these theories were popular right up to the end of the 19th century, for example rats just appearing where there is corn or maggots just appearing where there is rotting meat.  Frogs, worms and salamanders all came from mud and rotting food. There were recipes for creating mice, one of which was to wrap cheese and bread in rags, leave them in a dark corner for several weeks and wholla!! you have mice. Another great recipe for mice was dirty underwear and wheat grain mixed in a bucket and left in the open for 21 days.

Recipe for bees, kill a young bull bury it up-right with its horns sticking out of the ground and after a month or so a swarm of bees will fly out of the corpse.  All great stuff really.

It was thought that barnacle geese came from a barnacle called a goose barnacle which is a shell shellfish. 
16th century scientist Van Helmount had a recipe for scorpions by placing basil between two bricks and left in sunlight for three weeks then ..... Scorpions.

Luckily biologists and micro biologists through science came to the rescue and were able to prove that mice came from mice, scorpions from scorpions and bees came from bees and so on and so forth.  Something we all take for granted today.

There are creationists who believe in the bible quite literary and believe that the world was created only 7000 years ago and all the animals just appeared on the sixth day of creation. There is a huge multimillion dollar museum in Petersburg USA which proposes that humans and dinosaurs lived in harmony side by side (like the Flintstones).  The dinosaurs including T-Rex were in fact vegetarians who according to the creationist used their sharp flesh ripping teeth to crack coconuts and crush water melons. “Those crazy guys”.

Check this guy out it all makes perfect sence.