Toucan Play That Game

A blog about life...literally

Winged Wednesday – Not A Fruit

The kiwi is a flightless, endangered bird that is native to New Zealand. It has tiny wings that are useless for flight. However, the kiwi has a keen sense of smell and the ability to run very fast. It has feathers that are almost hair-like, and its huge eggs can weigh up to half of its own body weight.

This fuzzy bird is not to be confused with the fuzzy fruit.


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Death Is In Our Own Hands

Take a look around you. What do you see? Odds are, there is bacteria on it. Bacteria can live anywhere, including soil, the ocean, inside the human body, and many more places that you would not expect. Bacteria can survive in so many different kinds of environments, and there are more than 10 times as many cells of bacteria as there are human cells in the human body. It maybe essential to human life, but it comes with consequences- which could be sitting right in your hands.

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Wolves in a Dire Situation

As with every warm-blooded American with cable TV and HBO, I love Game of Thrones and the fantasy world it occupies.  In the skies of Winterfell in northern Westeros, banners displaying the Sigil of House Stark wave gallantly. The Starks are symbolized by the dire wolf, the legendary beast with metal jaws, razor sharp claws and incomprehensible strength. In the show, each Stark child receives a rare Dire Wolf pup and raise them to be game changing weapons on the battlefield and loyal companions. All of this is fun but what happened to the real dire wolf, what factors lead to its extinction 9000 years ago?

To truly understand the dire wolf, it is necessary to learn more about their composition and social structure. Standing at three feet tall and 150 lbs., the dire wolf or Canis dirus was an apex predator in during the Pleistocene era, with its only true competitor in size and strength being the saber-toothed cat. In many ways the dire wolf is an extremely large grey wolf except for its larger, more muscular frame and head. Very similar to the grey wolf, dire wolves hunted in packs, preying on larger game such as moose where the former preferred smaller prey nps.gov. This observation is heavily supported by the number of dire wolf fossils found in concentrated areas; one said example is the La Brea Tar Pits where more than 2000 dire wolf skeletons have been unearthed Evansville. Dire wolves evolved in North America and lived in all environments found on the continent.

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Polo Wars: Attack of the Clones

Clones: Many people when they hear the word think of Star Wars and the clones in the prequels. The clones in polo are a little different. As the clones in polo are fighting it is not a intergalactic war that is being fought to keep order in the republic, but instead these horses are just competing in the game of polo, however they still are clones.

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Armadill-Dumbfounded: The History and Migration of The Nine-Banded Armadillo

If you are like me, you have probably noticed an influx of Armadillos from seemingly nowhere. Unfortunately, unless you go deliberately looking for one, odds are you will see one as roadkill, mostly on or by the highway. But what has caused these Armadillos to migrate to other states, and is what the history of these intriguing mammals?

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Frog Friday – The “Pobblebonk”

Did you know?

This species of frog is also called the “pobblebonk” after its distinctive “bonk” call, which is likened to the sound of a banjo string being plucked.

Listen to the sound below:

Listen to the call of the Eastern Banjo Frog


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Genes and Behavior: Is It In Our Nature?

A while ago, in Psychology class, our teacher’s daily lecture was on the classic psychological debate of Nature versus Nurture.  Do our genes impact our personality or are we an Aristotelian tabula rasa, or blank slate?  While a connection could be seen inherently through this psychological concept’s usage of biological premises, a connection was easily seen between Psychology and Biology after my teacher displayed a Punnett Square, a common sight in genetics as a way to explain the transfer of genotypes from parents to offspring.  As I recalled previous lessons from Freshman year on genetics, I couldn’t help but contemplate whether or not the theory had any validity.

Dr. Michael Kraus, assistant professor of Organizational Behavior at Yale, says it’s complicated.  Historically, he said, psychological studies would focus on twins, and compare self-reports from fraternal twins, those of which share around 50% of the genes, and identical twins, who share 100% of their genes.  In these studies, they found that the amount of variation in personality that is explained by genes, or heritability, was around 46% for identical twins, and around 23% for fraternal twins, showing a very clear suggestion that genetic influences had a noticeable impact on personality.  The problem is finding what genes specifically impact factors like personality, preferences, intelligence, or physical characteristics.

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Winged Wednesday – Time Flies Like an Arrow…

…fruit flies like a banana (but only if it’s starting to go bad – it’s the sweet odor of fermentation in ripe fruit that they really love).


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Unit 5 Exam – December 7th-10th

The exam for Unit 5 will take place in two parts. The Free Response section of the exam will consist of 5 free response questions and will be given in class on December 7th. The rest of the exam (23 multiple choice & 2 grid-ins) will be administered through Canvas and due by 7:45 am on Monday, December 10th.

The Unit 5 Guided Reading Questions, Unit 5 Review Videos, Class Notes, and Genetics Problem Set are recommended study materials, along with the materials available on the Campbell Biology textbook website. You may also want to look over the questions from the Unit 5 Exam Review Game.

The 23 multiple choice and 2 grid-in questions on the exam will be available on Canvas starting at 7:45 am on Friday, December 7th. Four of the five questions on the Free Response section of the exam will be similar to those on the Genetics Problem Set.

If you have any questions about the exam, please use the comment form below.


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I’ve Lost My Contacts…Literally

One of the distinguishing characteristics between our Generation Z and the previous generations is the use of technology in our daily lives. It seems to be increasingly likely that teenagers are increasingly reliant on our cellular devices, to the point that it could be detrimental to our health. Multiple studies have shown that reliance on cellular devices can cause damage, but do we know exactly how harmful our iPhones and Androids, or iPads might be at night?

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How Cool Is Cryotherapy?

There are many different forms of therapy that help people recover from injuries and reduce inflammation in certain areas. Athletes are even trying to use different forms of therapy in order to help recover and prepare for the next game in as quick and as comfortable a manner as possible.  They may do yoga or stretching exercises in order to increase flexibility and range of motion. Some athletes even use acupuncture to relieve pain and increase muscle strength and stamina. There is even a new form of therapy that many people are now using, which is called cryotherapy.

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Mammal Monday – Cloudy With a Chance

The clouded leopard is found in the Himalayan foothills of mainland Southeast Asia. Since 2008, it has been classified on the IUCN Red List as “Vulnerable.” The total population size of clouded leopards is suspected to be fewer than 10,000 mature adults.


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Are Mental Health Issues Increasing?


Image from Flickr

In the past few years, teen suicides, gun shootings, and reports of anxiety have increased. It seems that more and more people are seeing psychologists and getting medication for their mental health. Many people have opened up about having ADD/ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, and OCD. But what could be causing this influx in mental disorders? Is something wrong in the healthcare system, environment, or genetic health we live in?

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Frog Friday – Toad-ally!

Did you know?

The cane toad is considered a pest in many of its introduced regions, particularly Australasia. Of particular concern with this invasive species is that its skin is toxic. Many native predators are killed after ingesting cane toads.


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