Tiger Shark, Photograph Credit: Klaus Jost

Sharks and Extinction: The Uncertain Future of an Ancient Lineage

More than 400 million years ago, the first sharks ventured through the dangerous seas of the Silurian age. Diminutive and seemingly insignificant, these fragile new species would pave the road for an astounding lineage, one that would eventually dominate the seas and supplant the fearsome predators that could not demonstrate the same great resilience in the face of nature’s greatest challenges. Continue reading

Photograph Credit: Aaron Logan, Wikimedia

Animal Experimentation: Science, Ethics, and the Controversy

Advances in medical research have been among the most significant and beneficial events throughout the course of recent history. From cures for dangerous diseases to improvements in surgical techniques, the knowledge obtained through this research has positively changed the lives of countless people. Yet this same research, which has often been praised as being revolutionary, is also the subject of heated debate. Continue reading

Photograph Credit: The ASM Mammal Image Library

Oddities in Nature: The Naked Mole Rat

The naked mole rat is a strange little creature in nearly every way. Living its entire life in total darkness, this unusual rodent makes its home in underground tunnels below the grasslands of East Africa. It is part of a very special sort of family, one comprised of several dozen siblings and a single queen. In other words, this interesting rodent is part of a colony which has more in common with the social structure of insects than with that of mammals. Continue reading

Platypus, Photograph Source: australian-wildlife.com

Oddities in Nature: The Platypus

There is no shortage of unusual observations in the world of animals, with many diverse species employing unique and unexpected traits and behaviors in order to survive in their natural habitats. However, in the world of exotic animals, few can compete with the natural aberrancy of the platypus. This charming little mammal possesses a duck-like bill, webbed feet, a tail similar to that of a beaver’s, the body and fur of an otter, lays eggs while still feeding its young with milk, and, in the case of the male of the species, also has venomous stingers on the heels of its rear feet. Continue reading

Photograph Credit: Roberts W. French Jr.

The Great Grey Owl: Phantom of the North

The birds of prey are among the most renowned of nature’s predators. Mankind has long been aware of their fantastic predatory abilities, and as such has revered these animals for thousands of years. These powerful birds, recognized for their deadly skill and strength, were integrated into the symbolism, mythology, and religions of various cultures past and present. This fascinating group consists of a variety of different birds, including eagles, falcons, secretary birds, and even vultures. However, among the most interesting members of the group are the owls. Continue reading

Sea anemone

Earth’s Alien World: Life in the Deep Ocean

For humans, the ocean has long been a realm of both intrigue and intimidation. It captivates our minds with its beauty and mystery, yet also humbles even the strongest men with its power and, sometimes, merciless nature. For long, we have relied on it for our survival, yet countless have perished in its waters. It is not difficult to understand why humans share this unusual connection with the ocean. We are, after all, physically designed for an entirely terrestrial lifestyle. In fact, even the greatest of human swimmers seem clumsy in comparison to aquatic animals (and even many terrestrial animals) when in the water. As a result, an environment such as the open ocean, though beautiful and inspiring, could easily make many of us feel vulnerable and helpless. However, the ocean’s attractive qualities often rival this fear. Continue reading

Photograph Source: Northrup.org

Might and Mystique: The Amazon’s Elusive Jaguar

Shamans desired to become like it and adopt its strength and speed, turning the humans into fierce hunters. The people of the Amazon saw in its shiny, reflective eyes proof that it was connected with supernatural forces. The ancient Mayans believed its striking, spotted coat represented the night sky. It was even seen as a formidable lord of the underworld in some traditions.[1] This widely revered creature, whose name means “he who kills in one leap,”[2] is none other than the beautiful yet deadly jaguar. Continue reading
Photograph Credit: Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan

The Vampire Bats: Creatures of Ominous Legend

Commonly associated with Halloween, misfortune, witches, horror movies, and the devil, the infamous vampire bats have been at the center of ominous folklore for centuries. Then again, with their intimidating design, purely nocturnal lifestyle, and diet consisting solely of blood, it is not difficult to see how these unique animals received their unattractive reputation. And yet, though the images and concepts vampire bats represent throughout different cultures are interesting, the science and finesse behind their design is far more extraordinary. Continue reading

leopard seal #4

The Leopard Seals of the Antarctic

In the frigid Antarctic Ocean, a group of emperor penguins is returning to dry land after a much needed hunt for food. The weather is unforgiving and the waters are dark in color, obscuring any view of its contents deep within. As the group begins to near shore, they are oblivious to the presence of another creature within their vicinity, a creature which has also been searching for food. Continue reading

Photograph Credit: Christopher Jameson

The Fauna of Madagascar: Ring-Tailed Lemurs

Madagascar possesses what is possibly one of the most amazing modern ecosystems known to science. It contains a wide variety of unique and exotic animals, many of which are found only in this large island off the southeastern coast of Africa. This isolation from the rest of the world has allowed many of its inhabitants freedom from the more intense ecological competition encountered in many other ecosystems throughout the world, resulting in a variety of unexpected adaptations which have captivated countless scientists and tourists throughout the years. Continue reading

Photograph Credit: David Blank

The Panda: Gentle Giant of the Bamboo Forests

Few animals have captured the hearts of people throughout history such as the giant panda. Clumsy and plump in its design while sporting an attractive coloration, the panda is considered one of the most loveable of all animals. It is also one of the more unique bear species, as it thrives on a primarily herbivorous diet while also possessing a very shy and docile nature. Due to its fame, this bear is also one of the most popular representatives for endangered species, with very few pandas remaining in the wild. Continue reading

Photograph Source: Northrup.org

Keeping Ecosystems Alive: The Significance of Ecology

We live in a fascinating world teeming with beauty and diverse life. There are organisms of many varieties surviving in a wide range of environments throughout this planet, each one designed to carry out its purpose and fulfill its role in the ecosystem. As the most intelligent and advanced of all creatures, man is capable of fully appreciating this grand design and studying the purpose behind it. However, this world is not perfect. Although organisms are designed to survive in their natural habitats, they are constantly in a struggle against other creatures. Continue reading

All reptiles are vertebrates