Toothed whales—like dolphins and belugas—might live in the ocean, but they have some big things in common with cave-dwelling bats. They’re all mammals that live in dark places and use echolocation.
That’s why I talked about your question with my friend Christine Portfors. She’s a biologist at Washington State University. Her lab keeps a colony of bats.
Many bats sleep in caves and zoom around at night. Their world is dark, so they use sounds and their echoes to perceive the world around them, which is called echolocation. Toothed whales live in dark oceans or murky rivers and lakes. That’s why they use echolocation, too.
“Whenever there isn’t enough light for an animal to do the things that it needs to do like navigate, collect food and find mates, then it has to use some other sensory system besides vision,” Portfors said. “So, they send out sound. That sound bounces off objects in their environment and comes back as an echo. They use those echoes to identify objects and navigate.”
Flowers not only smell nice to humans, but also to many insects and birds who help the flowers do a really important job, according to Rachael Bonoan, a scientist with the Conservation Biology Laboratory at Washington State University.
Let’s imagine that you are a bee or a butterfly. You don’t have a nose on your face, but instead use your two antennae to smell things.
As you fly around, you catch a whiff of chemicals floating in the air. Down below, you see a field of daisies. The flowers are releasing some chemicals, which are the building blocks of a smell.
You fly down to the field and land on a daisy’s petal. It’s just what the flower wanted you to do.
Not only can you drink nectar from the flower to get some energy, but you can help the flower get ready to produce even more flowers.
As you sip on the daisy’s sweet, liquid nectar, the hairs on your body start picking up pollen, sticky grains on the flower. If you are imagining yourself as a bee, you might also use your front legs to put the grains into your pollen baskets, or pollen pants, near your back legs.
Not every man wants to be a father and not every father wants more kids. Roughly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended. But when it comes to male birth control, none of the options are ideal and safe, reversible hormonal male contraception may be 10 years away.
But why has it taken this long? Why is there another decade to go? What barriers to male birth control still exist?
“Females only ovulate once per month, so it’s relatively easy to block with an endocrine approach,” Michael K. Skinner, director of the Center for Reproductive Biology at Washington State University told Fatherly. “Males produce millions of sperm daily…it’s difficult to design endocrine approach without shutting down all of male endocrinology.” In other words, in order to impact sperm production meaningfully, hormonal therapy would need to all but shutter the endocrine system—with serious side effects.
They arrive in California each winter, an undulating ribbon of orange and black. There, migrating western monarch butterflies nestle among the state’s coastal forests, traveling from as far away as Idaho and Utah only to return home in the spring.
This year, though, the monarchs’ flight seems more perilous than ever. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit group that conducts a yearly census of the western monarch, said the population reached historic lows in 2018, an estimated 86 percent decline from the previous year.
In a 2017 study, scientists estimated that the monarch butterfly population in western North America had a 72 percent chance of becoming near extinct in 20 years if the monarch population trend was not reversed. One of the study’s researchers, Cheryl Schultz, an associate professor of biology at Washington State University Vancouver, said at the time that an estimated 10 million monarchs spent the winter in coastal California in the 1980s.
While humans may be one of the few animals that can give a high five, they are one of many with five fingers and toes.
Humans are part of the primate family, which also includes monkeys, apes, and even lemurs. As a member of the family, you also have fingernails instead of claws and pads on your fingertips that help with your sense of touch.
We actually see a total of ten fingers and toes in a lot of other vertebrates – animals with backbones. Fossil evidence of some early vertebrates show that some creatures had six, seven, or even eight fingers. That’s what I found out from my friend Sian Ritchie, who teaches biology at Washington State University.
Ritchie told me how animals tend to keep the characteristics or traits that help them survive in an environment. These are called adaptations. They may also over time lose some traits, like a finger or two.