Toucan Play That Game

A blog about life...literally

Bio-Blogging Sign Ups Now Open

As discussed today in class, all AP Biology students will be completing the Bio-Blogging Assignment this semester. Two students per class per week will provide their biologically-related insights to help the rest of us to build up our #biostreetcred.

After Friday, August 23rd, any students not signed up will be inserted into the schedule by Mr. Mohn.

You can now sign up for the available bio-blogging slots using the appropriate links below:

1st Hour
Sign Up Now!
3rd Hour
Sign Up Now!
7th Hour
Sign Up Now!

Important things to remember:

  1. Always include the URLs for the source materials you used in writing your post. Ideally, you should create appropriate hyperlinks within the text of your blog post that link to the sources when material from that source is specifically referenced. For instance, I was recently fascinated to find out that some hippos are carnivorous.
  2. You are encouraged to use images and other multimedia (e.g., videos) to supplement the text within your post. You must be sure, however, that the material is cleared from copyright restrictions and allowed for educational use. If your requested images are not cleared for educational use, they will not be posted on the blog without the specific permission of the copyright owner for that image. It is strongly suggested that you should use Wikimedia Commons for your images. Most videos on YouTube fall into the “free for educational use” category.

If you have any questions about the sign-up process, please use the comment section below.

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Frog Friday – Forming From Foam

This species lays its eggs in foamy nests created from skin secretions. These foamy masses can be found in holes dug in the ground by the male. The larvae live in the watery center of the nest until sufficient rain allows them to swim to nearby pools.

Listen to the call of the Mexican White-lipped Frog

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Winged Wednesday – Cheap Pun

“Juan was a poor man living in Ecuador. He had no family, only a pet toucan. Unfortunately, he was so poor that he could only afford to feed his bird a handful of birdseed every week. In other words, toucan lived as cheaply as Juan.”

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Frog Friday – Circles of Life

Frogspawn (unknown species)
Image from Wikimedia Commons


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Frog Friday – Common Rocket Frog

This terrestrial amphibian species deposits its eggs in leaf-litter. Upon hatching, the adults carry the tadpoles to streams.

The common rocket frog is not to be confused with this rare species.

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Cannibalistic tadpoles are a big part of the ecosystem although you may have never heard of them. Research has proven that cannibalistic tadpoles and matricidal worms assist with evolution. These tadpoles normally ate algae and crustaceans, but they were observed spawning tadpoles that were not the same as these normal ones. The features were different from these tadpoles. They had bulging jaw muscles and serrated mouthparts. They were very aggressive and ate much bigger food than normal. It was noticed that the two very different tadpoles had the same parents, and the same genetic makeup. How could it be possible that they were so different in physical features and behavior? Continue reading

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Worms Can Get PTSD… Enough Said.

Humans and worms have very little in common; ranging from differing complexity in our genome sequences to the physiology of the two animals, there seems to be nothing of note that we share. Even from a behavioral standpoint, we are nowhere near similar; humans have developed an interpersonal societal web of interaction of unprecedented magnitude in comparison to other animal species across the entirety of recorded life on earth. However, these two drastically different animals share one similarity that is nothing short of shocking: conscious, associative memories.

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Three Terms Essential to Biology

Now at the conclusion of my biology career at Northwest, I can finally attest to the “three terms” that have been especially significant throughout this course. I am choosing words that are important to understanding certain biological concepts, but also selecting words that sparked my interest and intrigued me the most to continue learning biology. The three terms or phrases I will be focusing on in this blog are genetics, natural selection, and DNA.

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How Can Parasitic Worms Enhance the Ecosystem?

Nematodes which live inside horned passalus beetles which can benefits both of them. Although Nematodes are parasitic and they feed of on the beetles’ hemolymph, which is basically the insects’ blood, and will eventually suck up all of the beetles available energy and kill them. Whether this relationship is harmful or mutualistic is still a question?

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Narwhals and Their Quest to be Different (Or Not)

Narwhals are (in my opinion) are one of the most interesting marine species there is. Male narwhals have an enlarged tooth that appears to be a tusk on front of their head making them look as if they are the unicorns of the sea making them a very unique organism. They may be unique compared to other organisms but comparing them among themselves tells a different story.

Recently, researches in Denmark have analyzed the genome of Narwhals and found that they have a very low amount of genetic diversity. They have one of the lowest genetic diversity among the many mammals that have been studied. This characteristic of low genetic diversity is a unique one to the narwhal species compared to the many other arctic species, among which is the beluga whale which narwhals are very closely related to. This surprises many who read it as narwhals have a relatively large population size of over 80,000. The number of narwhals over time also has drastically increased since the lowering of genetic diversity. There is an idea that is pretty well known that in order to have a high population size there must also be a high level of genetic diversity. Narwhals show that this is not the case for all organisms and neutral theory of molecular evolution. The cause of low genetic diversity is usually caused by inbreeding within a population of a species, however when investigation narwhals there was no evidence to suggest inbreeding within the population. Low genetic diversity is also usually caused by bottlenecking of the species, meaning that a large amount of the species died off leading to a smaller population to rebuild the population, but there is no evidence to suggest that even such as this took place to affect the narwhal population. The researchers however suggest that an ideal location was created by the last glacial period, roughly 115,000 years ago, that the narwhals used to reproduce rapidly and at the time had a much smaller population size. With the smaller population size, there is less genetic diversity, and a ideal location to reproduce led to a drastic increase and population size with a very small amount of genetic diversity. The large population of narwhals have been able to survive for the past hundreds of thousands of years with low genetic diversity, but could be in harm in the future.

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Genome Editing Gives Terror Groups a Powerful New Tool

When you hear the word terrorist, you may imagine bombs, maniacal suicide attackers, or violent hate groups. While all this may be true, recent scientific advances have allowed terror organizations to expand their arsenal of weapons. James Clapper, US Director of National Intelligence, added gene editing to a list of threats posed by “weapons of mass destruction and proliferation.” Gene editing’s most popular method, CRISPR, has revolutionized scientific research, leading to new animal and crop gene modifications. Genome editing is a type of genetic engineering which involves adding, removing, or replacing DNA in the genome of a living organism. By delivering the Cas9 nuclease complexed with a synthetic guide RNA into a cell, the cell’s genome can be cut at a desired location, allowing existing genes to be removed or new ones to be added.

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