The most contentious point of evolution we observe today is that of our own species.  Many people refuse to accept that early hominids, 'primitive' humans, are primates.  Individuals fiercely preach that 'we as a species didn't used to be monkeys!'

When the word primitive is used as an adjective it frequently implies slow, ignorant, raw, primal, violent, and undeveloped..  This idea of primitive as a dirty slackjawed individual needs to be undone.  To restore dignity to 'primitive' we must take primitive out of the human context, provide a relevant timescale to understand evolution, and highlight how advanced early species were.

A primitive dolphin was an ancestor to modern day dolphins.  We know dolphins to be intelligent, social, and agile predators.  They are capable of complex emotions, self recognition, and cognitive thought.  An early dolphin would have been a predator, and hunting requires certain physiological characteristics.  You hav…

Lets Dance - Part 1 Araneae

I've been very interested in these dancing spider videos that have been surfacing online - the spiders are incredibly colorful and have these intricate, detailed dances.  I am so intrigued I've decided to learn more about them and share some info on spiders.  We'll break down a little taxonomy - it wont be overwhelming I promise - and then we'll dive into these adorable groovy spiders.  I'm sure we'll all learn a thing or two today!  

These little guys are Maratus volans, a species in the peacock spider genus.  When I say little I mean it -
They're tiny!!  These peacock spiders are within the jumping spider family.  The jumping spider family is THE largest family of spiders with over 5,000 described species.

I'm not usually a big arachnid person.. I'm a little scared when I encounter a big spider in my basement... but as a class of animal I think they're fascinating.  So lets break down the arachnids just a little before we dive into the danci…

New Post Coming Soon!

Get ready to learn some basic taxonomy, and characteristics of everyones favorite furry friends.... spiders!!

Just kidding, I know they're not a favorite. But they are very interesting. 

We'll get into some fun tidbits on what makes a spider a spider, and how and why they dance!  Till the post is ready enjoy this spider.. with a "hat".

I've been on tortiose time

Hello there!  It's been far too long since I've posted on here. Today I realized how much I miss sharing my love for cool creatures.  I think that I'll start a small bit featuring each of my creatures, so you can get to know me and my pets! 

I've been on tortoise time with my little buddy Koopa the Sulcata tortoise.  This photo is the first time I ever saw him! He's my first reptile, I've had him since he was a little nugget, and now hes about a year old!  He was bred in captivity and I got him via mail (yes he really came in the mail!!).  He - now here I'm making assumptions Koopa could end up being a girl, you cant determine the sex of your Sulcata unless they are incubated at specific temperatures or until they reach sexual maturity - is a quiet, brave little fellow.  His favorite activities include eating, napping in warm sunny places, and adventuring for a spot to hide where he can still see whats happening around him.  He also likes to climb, he'…

Lizard Lips

This is my little sister Lila Jane and I a few years ago playing put-put.  Shes adorable.  The course has all kinds of castles and pirates, but Lila's favorite are the giant lizards.  
Some adorable photos..

 And now some science.  
Did you know that lizards don't have lips?

 Nope, no lips.  This lucky lizard was getting lots of love from a sweet little mammal, but giving none in return.  Why don't lizards have lips?  Well, they don't really need lips.  But lets start at the beginning.

Lizards are reptiles, and they have been around for approximately 350 million years.  The Mesozoic is known as the Age of Reptiles for good reason.  Dinosaurs dominated the terrestrial environment, but the transition from aquatic amphibious individuals to fully terrestrial reptiles required many physiological changes in the preceding era, the Paleozoic.  If you want to be on land, but will dry out, it would be most advantageous to have skin that is more thick and keratinized scales t…

Collections + Cladograms +Evidence

This makes me so happy.  Its a cladogram of a collection at the American Museum of Natural History showing the evolution of vertebrates.  The transition from aquatic environments to terrestrial is one of my very favorite things to think about, this highlights the story as well as demonstrates how DINOSAURS EVOLVED. Woah, yeah, dinosaurs.  Whats even better, is that I'm learning the nitty gritty story behind all this in my classes this quarter.

The good stuff in evolutionary history starts once we have some solid evidence for life, I like solid evidence.  3.7 billion years ago (give or take a few million) there were plankton alive and doing what plankton do in Precambrian oceans.  They were photosynthesizing happily, and then they reached the end of their little lives, died, and sank to the bottom of the ocean.  Then they got fossilized, and discovered in modern Isua, Greenland.  They aren't the first cells on Earth, but those lucky cells got fossilized and are the oldest foss…

Manta Rays Fate Worse Than Sharks

It's been a while, sorry! I'll post as often as I can with school. This article is devastating, we desperately need to protect the surviving populations. Shark fins and rhinoceros horns, now manta ray gills.. this mindless harvesting of beautiful rare species must stop. Manta Rays Fate Worse Than Sharks January 25, 2012 5:01:06 AM Christina Reed)
As the population of sharks has depleted, fishermen are turning more and more to Manta Rays - animals unfit, in the most Darwinian sense of the word, to handle the pressure.
Manta Rays take 10 years to reach maturity and females give birth to "a single pup every two to three years," ray researcher Mike Bennett of the University of Queensland told ABC Science:
By comparison, a Great White Shark, which is widely considered to be one of the world's most vulnerable marine species, may produce as many pups in one litter as a Manta Ray does over its…