Eastern Coral Snake, Micrurus fulvius.
Humans have been called “the naked ape”. But how did we get that way? When did early humans lose their fur, and why?
Homo erectus reconstruction (photo from Wiki Commons)
Green Moray Eel
In the times before the Europeans reached North America, the entire eastern half of what is now the United States was covered with unbroken forest. It was said that a squirrel could run from Maine to Texas without ever touching the ground. And one of the myriad of species that lived in this forest was the Passenger Pigeon. One hundred years ago, the last Passenger Pigeon died in a cage.
Passenger Pigeon. Illustration from Wiki Commons
Little Blue Heron
Most people consider it horribly ugly. Some people think it will pinch or sting you. Even its name is wrong–it’s not a crab at all. But the Horseshoe Crab deserves a bit more respect than it gets–it is one of the oldest existing lineages of life on Earth.
The Ant Lion is a common insect in Florida, and indeed it is found in most of the United States. But despite its wide range and common distribution, most people have never seen the actual insect. Instead, we know it by the conspicuous cone-shaped traps that it makes, often in large groups, in suitable flat sandy areas.
Ant Lion. Actual size about 3/8 inch.
OK, most people don’t like spiders. Especially the big ones. But spiders play an important role in our ecosystem. Many of them have fascinating lifestyles and habits. And despite their large size, gigantic webs and fearsome appearance, Florida’s orb-weaving spiders are harmless to humans
In evolutionary terms, the humble domestic chicken is one of the most successful species on Earth. There are an estimated 20 billion chickens alive right now–almost three times as many as there are humans. Apparently, “tasting good to people so they’ll protect you” is a pretty effective evolutionary strategy–well, aside from that whole “they eat you” thingie. Statistically, every human on the planet eats the equivalent of 27 individual chickens every year. The only other terrestrial vertebrate that may rival the chicken in sheer numbers is the Norway Rat.
And even the lowly chicken has important things to teach us. It was through the careful observation of a backyard chicken flock that one of the most important principles of social biology was uncovered–one that applies equally well to humans.
Not such a dumb cluck after all….
One of the least-noticed and little-discussed environmental disasters has been taking place around the world over the past two decades, as turtle species have dwindled at an alarming rate. The problem all traces back to just one nation–and this time, it isn’t the US. . . .
Florida Softshell Turtle