Blog Archives

Three Kinds of Mammal Love

There’s nothing like a little David Attenborough to remind you of just how awesome this planet – and your Linnaean class – really is. (I’m watching Life of Mammals and made it through only the first episode before turning it off to write this.)

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Mammals made a quiet entrance into the world of dinosaurs as tiny, mouse-sized creatures more than 200 million years ago. Since then, mammals have branched off into hoofed animals, primates like us, felines, canines, and more.

All mammals share a few common traits:
1. Skin glands. These can include sweat, sebaceous, scent, musk, and most well-known, the mammary glands that produce milk.
2. Pelage (pronounced, “PEL-edge”), also known as hair or fur. Even mammals like whales, dolphins, and the pangolin can have some sparse hair.
3. Our red blood cells don’t have nuclei, and we are warm-blooded (meaning we produce our own energy from our food, rather than soaking up the sun for energy.)
4. Three middle ear bones, which help us to hear better.
5. Backbones.
6. A four-chambered heart.
7. A lower jaw comprised of only one bone, rather than several.

Other traits, however, like live birth or placentas, depend on the sub-class. Cross the jump to get a quick introduction to the three sub-classes of mammals and their awesome unique traits!

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[Bird Video Series] #5: Bower Birds Love Blue

Bower Birds Love Blue concludes our week of bird videos! As a visual person, I find it nice sometimes to take a break from reading and processing, and just watch the behaviors in their natural settings. I hope you’ve enjoyed these clips too.

Bower Birds are known for several things: 1) amassing a lot of stuff with which to impress their potential mates, 2) erecting impressive structures out of sticks (complete with support beams) and 3) stealing blue things from humans.

This is a group of species that go to an enormous amount of trouble to attract and please a mate: with Bower Birds, it’s not just about having good-looking feathers. Some species build piles of beetle wings that iridesce¬†in the light, while others thatch entry ways in which they hope to mate. Today you get two videos, and I won’t apologize for featuring David again. I just won’t.

[Bird Video Series] #3: Birds of Paradise

If you still haven’t seen the Planet Earth series, let me give you a sneak peek here. David Attenborough narrates this incredible clip of several different Birds of Paradise. Each has its own elaborate, colorful, sometimes mesmerizing mating display. These birds are no larger than your average chicken but their displays truly rival that of the Peacock. I remember the first time I saw this, I was so blown away I had to rewind it and watch it again, just to be sure I wasn’t hallucinating. Enjoy!

[Bird Video Series] #2: The Amazing Lyre Bird Mimic

I love David Attenborough. I will watch anything he makes, anytime, anywhere. If there is a Heaven, his documentaries play on repeat all day long. And I’m not picky – I’ll settle for things he only narrates too.

Now that that’s out of the way and you all know my secret love obsession with Sir Attenborough, on to the video. This clip is from Life of Birds, which, if you are unaware, is an amazing documentary on – you guessed it! – birds. There’s also Life of Mammals (obviously about mammals), Life in the Undergrowth (about invertebrates), and Life in Cold Blood (reptiles and amphibians). These documentaries are essentially the Planet Earths of the animal kingdom and they’re without a doubt some of the best nature documentaries ever made. Check them out, you’ll be happy you did!

This clip features a tropical bird called the Lyre Bird, which is a bird that mimics to impress mates. You won’t believe your ears when you hear what this bird can imitate…

And, now that you’ve enjoyed something educational, I’m leaving you with this one as well. At first I was highly offended by the hacking of an Attenborough clip, but, well, then I was laughing so hard I almost choked on my Poptart.