Animals

Fungus Among Us & Other Things

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Happy Sunday! So I’m trying something new. From now on I will start posting multiple short topics on recent articles I have read, organizations or artists that I follow, or other science or sciart related topics. I figure variety is the spice of life. Let me know what you think!

Fungus Among Us-A recent article in the New York Times discusses the art of wild mushroom hunting and the bioluminescence that some mushroom species emit.

Bambi Likes Ribs-From Popular Science, a deer was spotted munching on a human carcass by forensic scientist on a body farm. Note-Do NOT Google “body farm images” if you spook easily.

The Crowd and the Cloud-A new show premiers on PBS about citizen science and the use of mobile technology to help collect data on a variety of topics.

Courtney Mattison-An amazing ceramic artist who creates intricate coral reef ecosystems out of clay to help highlight their importance and their fragile state due to human-induced threats.

Minute Earth-Short animated YouTube videos on a variety of scientific topics such as “Why Some Molecules Have Evil Twins“.

About the Illustration: Acrylic painting of mushrooms at night (with some glow in the dark ferns).

Glow In The Dark Bacon

WildBoar

Six years after the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant, wildlife has taken over the the twelve mile exclusion zone around the plant. Most notably packs of wild boars have settled in to their new homes. Unfortunately for residents who are slowly planning their return to the area, these boars are highly radioactive (300x higher than the safety standards) and no longer intimidated by humans. Major hunts and special incinerators is the current answer to this situation but will it be enough? Will residents ever go back?

Note: A lovely article about the wildlife of Chernobyl. It is embedded in the article linked above  but I wanted to highlight it in case you missed it.

About This Illustration: Watercolor on Yupo Paper.

Strawberry Squid…Forever

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The “Strawberry Squid” or Histioteuthis heteropsis is a deep-sea squid that is known for it’s resemblance to a strawberry and it’s mismatched eyes. It is also affectionately called the cock-eyed squid by it’s squid friends and a few marine biologists. Particularly after it’s had too many strawberry daiquiris 😉 Sorry, I couldn’t help myself…

Recently researchers at Duke University determined why the Strawberry Squid has a large, light colored eye that is angled upwards and a smaller, darker eye angled downwards. After analyzing hours (and hours) of underwater footage from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Duke graduate student Kate Thomas determined that the larger eye evolved to detect marine life in the water column above it while the smaller eye evolved to detect bioluminescent light from marine life found below it. So one eye looking out for predators and one eye looking out for prey.

In the past, studying and observing organisms that inhabit the deeper parts of the ocean was challenging. But with the advent of remotely operated vehicles (ROV)  and and other related technology, researchers can get to know some of the odd fellows that populate the deep, deep sea. If you are curious about what MBARI finds at the bottom of the ocean, check out their YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/MBARIvideo. Another favorite is NOAA’s Ocean Exploration and Research YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/oceanexplorergov. And you thought YouTube was only good for watching cat videos.

 

Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright

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A bright note from the conservation world in 2016!  Wild tiger populations are on a rise for the first time in a century, an estimated 3,890 now roam the earth-up from 3,200 in 2010. India houses most of the world’s wild tigers. The country has taken tiger conservation seriously. Russia, Nepal, and Bhutan are also seeing conservation successes.

Although this is encouraging these numbers do not indicate habitat quality (i.e. habitat fragmentation) or the status of subspecies. Populations in some countries are not well accounted for at this time and in places like Indonesia habitat destruction for the palm oil industry are negatively impacting tiger populations. Poaching for the black market (mostly for Chinese traditional medicines) and habitat destruction and fragmentation are the major causes in the decline of wild tiger populations in recent years. They are still a concern but coordinated conservation efforts and enforcement are helping tigers make a come back after a path towards extinction.

For More Information:

http://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/for-the-first-time-in-100-years-tiger-numbers-are-growing

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/tiger-populations-increasing/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/04/160410-tiger-numbers-rise-wwf-conservation-double-population/

About the Illustration: Watercolor ink on bristol paper. This illustration can be purchased through my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ScienceStories

 

Washed Ashore

This past weekend we visited the Denver Zoo and among the animals were 15 different sculptures of marine life made solely from plastic trash found on beaches. A lot of plastic water bottles.

The sculptures were made by the Sciart non-profit The Washed Ashore Project who’s mission is to raise awareness about marine trash and conservation through art. Their exhibits travel around the country so check out this link to find an exhibit near you: http://washedashore.org/exhibit-locations/.

It is worth a visit. Their work is both heartbreaking and beautiful.

My Illustration for Lateral Magazine

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My recent illustration for Lateral Magazine, an Australian Science magazine. It accompanies an article about the Running River Rainbowfish, threatened species, and conservation action. http://www.lateralmag.com/articles/issue-16/watered-down

Artichoke with Legs

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Meet the Pangolin, a scaly mammal that eats insects and hangs out in trees or burrows in the ground. It’s keratin-based scales are meant for protection from predators, a unique adaptation for a mammal. There are eight species of pangolin found in Asia and Africa. Unfortunately this unique critter has the dubious title of “most trafficked mammal” due to rampant poaching for it’s meat. During the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), delegates voted to ban all trade of all extant species of pangolin.

About The Illustration: Watercolor ink and micron pens. Originally I had him playing the piano but I removed the piano and now he looks a bit awkward. Oh well.

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For those of you with little ones or have little ones in your life in some way-consider picking up a copy of “Roly Poly Pangolin” by Anna Dewdney. She’s the author of the Llama Llama books. A portion of each sale goes to pangolin conservation in Vietnam.