Sir! The Earth is being invaded by Alie… I meant Amphibians

I have a strong hate towards amphibians, especially frogs. I don’t like their big, popping out eyes, I don’t like that I cannot predict their movement, and most of all, I don’t like their skin texture. My sister, on the other hand, have an affection for frogs and reptiles and once had a pet named, of course, “Froggy”. Yet she is scared of bugs (by bugs I mean ladybugs, beetles, and dragonflies).
Anyhow, if I can see anything other than aliens come and invade the Earth, I can see amphibians and reptiles teaming up and doing so.

They look evil after all… And look what I found:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/science/08obfrog.html?_r=1&ref=science

The NY Times article talks about species of Invasive (ah, I was right) frogs are proving Darwinian scientists’ theory wrong.  Darwin thought that if an invasive species entered a region where there already is a species that is closely related, the invasive species would not do very well in competition for resources.

However, for amphibians it’s a different story – they actually do better! The researchers said the one possible reason for this is because the environment that alien amphibians are introduced are naturally suited for them. And this study will allow the scientists to understand the risk level of introducing an alien species to an environment.

Why do only amphibians can survive better, and not plants or other animals? Especially with animals, if one species that is very closely related to the alien species already lives there, that should mean that the environment should be some what suited for the alien species as well, correct? Still, since they will be competing for similar resource, resource should be little scare, and therefore it should be hard for an alien species to survive in the new environment… This does not make sense to me… Does it to you?

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Girls’ “poof” = Sexual appeal or Intimidation

I barely watch TV. That being said, that doesn’t mean I don’t know what goes on the TV world. Several of my friends are into the MTV show “Jersey Shore”, and they have been telling me all about it. I gave the show a chance, because I would like to be open to new ideas, even if it meant spent 45 minutes of my night watching trashy TV (and potentially killing my brain cells). As I watched the show, one of the character, Snooki got me thinking… (Surprise!) Well, not herself, actually (although her behaviors and language is interesting)… her hair “poof”. She is, in a way, trying to make herself bigger by expanding her parts of the body.
In the nature, we see similar characteristic, but in two different occasions; trying to appeal to a potential mating partner, and intimidating a potential threat.

A great example of animal that expands its body size to appeal to increase their chance of leaving an offspring is peacock.

Male peacocks feather, although beautiful, does not increase their likelihood of surviving – rather, because of their feather, they are hunted, both by human and other predators. So why do they have them? To show off to the female peacock, and to potentially increase their likelihood of having offspring… That’s it. Is it worth risking your life? (Kind of different question from the post).  Bigger and prettier the feathers are, more likely that females are attracted to the males.
So, Snooki may be making her poof bigger to appeal to males… Perhaps bigger the poof, more males would be attracted to her (in her theory, I am assuming).

Another possibility for making their body bigger is to scare predators away. An example of that would be Frilled Neck Lizard in Australia

By making themselves look bigger, Frilled Lizards are trying to survive (by not getting eaten by their predators). Bigger frill a lizard have, bigger they can appear when frill is expanded, and more chance of scaring a predator away.
If this is Snooki’s (and others who does the poof) theory, then by making her poof bigger, she is trying to scare predators away. But what would be her predators? Males?

It was very amusing to think about this as I sat there for 45 minutes of the show and concluded that Jersey Shore wasn’t exactly for my taste.

Posted in Animals, JITTs, Thoughts | 4 Comments

Meaning behind an interaction between Spider and Woolly Monkeys

This New York Times article, written by Anthony Di Fiore, a primate biologist at NYU, talks about the day he encountered an interaction between Woolly and Spider monkeys

http://scientistatwork.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/14/a-rare-interspecies-frolic-among-spider-and-woolly-monkeys/?partner=rss&emc=rss

(First picture below on the left: Woolly Monkey. On the left: Spider Monkey)

Although the time of the interaction was small (~15mins), Professor De Fiore may be getting to something big. Most species don’t interact outside of their own, even if they share a common ancestor. Even within own species, it is rare that they interact outside of the herd (For example, chimpanzees live with their herd but if chimpanzees outside of the herd they are not welcomed) . So how could two different species interact, even co-exist in the same place,without any conflict?

One possible theory I have come up is that the interaction  was possible because it happened during meal time. In human, intake of food makes people happy. Food may have similar effect on these monkeys as well, and since the interaction happened right after food intake, they were happy enough to tolerate presence of other specie. This would also explain the short interaction time – the feeling of “happiness” disappeared and they quickly became aware of possible threats to each other.
Another possibility is that they have some benefit by being together for a short period of time. Many individual means more eyes for predators. This is crucially important during meal time. Therefore, each specie are benefiting by each other’s presence.

Neither of them may not be the case, but this may be an interesting case to be doing an observation for.

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Thoughts from Class 1/21/2011

I have been thinking about the question that professor asked whether natural selection is still seen in the world today, within the United States. Although as the class we came to a conclusion that there is no natural selection, I have been pondering upon a question of whether “beauty” is something that humans are naturally selecting for. The definition of natural selection, from class, is that it “causes adaptation to a specific enviroment, and its main purpose is increasing reproduction”. The requirements for natural selection are : 1) there is phenotypic variation 2) it is heritable 3) different phenotypes exhibit different leves in reproduction success

Here are my reasons why I think beauty could be something that humans are naturally selected for.
1) Beauty is a phenotypic character, and the looks vary
2) Beauty is considered to be heritable (if you have “beautiful” parents, there is a high chance that you are also considered attractive)
3) The definition of beauty changes over time, and therefore it is a specific condition
4) More that an individual fit into that definition of beauty, more chances of mating occurs.

However, professor Perlman pointed out that difference in beauty may not lead to difference in reproductive success; that is, there is no relationship between how many offspring an individual have versus how attractive that individual is. I do not think that an individual may benefit reproductively. However,  I think that in long run, since attractive individual would have more chance of getting married and therefore more likely to have offspring, the population’s “attractiveness” would increase, leading to group selection.

Also, he asked a question whether the attractiveness in female or male could lead to reproductive sucess. I have read in an article couple years ago that although females have became more attractive, the males’ features have reamained the same since homo sapien sapiens have emerged. Would this indicate that only in females do physical appearence matter. But would this also be the case in the other parts of the world? Other species’ female select her mate depending on male’s dance skills, nest making skills, the location etc, not necessary how attractive the male is. Similarly, some of human female also choose her mate on income, characteristics, etc, especially when she is deciding whether she wants to get married (I am not saying everyone, but saying some people do).

What is your thought on this? I am very much interested.

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