zoology biology benno meyer rochow science blog life sand Florian Nock

Microscopic organisms : Life’s Secretive Pioneers

Life’s Secretive Pioneers in the Sandy Pits

Many animals love to explore or spend most of their lives in the gaps and spaces created by piles of stones or wood: some cats like confined spaces, mice certainly do, and ants just love them. But ants can, of course, make use of much, much smaller crevices than bigger animals can. However, what about the sand on the beach? It is fine and seems compact, but there is always a small volume of interstitial space between the sand grains: could anything possibly be living in there? I bet no beach-frolicking folk ever think about that, but sure, further down the beach towards the sub-littoral you can step on shells buried in the sand and may get bitten on the toe by a crab that has sheltered in the substrate while further up, along the zone of decaying algal debris, you may encounter beach-hoppers and sand flies. But in between these two horizontal layers, would there be any life at all in the sand? —>

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zoology biology benno meyer rochow science blog smell taste dogs odours Florian Nock

Smell : Potential Burglars Beware of dogs !

Dogs are after you !

Although most humans have a relatively big nose right in the centre of their face, that organ’s main function seem to be there to support the spectacles and to pre-warm the air that enters the nostrils. Our sense of smell isn’t exactly great when it comes to a showdown with other nose-possessing organisms, but when I use the plural “we”, I am not exactly accurate, for female noses consistently outperform those of males and there are even odours that men and children cannot but mature women can smell. There is also the aspect that in women odour thresholds vary over the menstrual cycle. Generally speaking, however, we humans aren’t smell champions and find it hard to understand how a police dog can follow the track of a wrongdoer or a lost person, how salmons sniff out their home rivers on their migrations to their birth stream, how ants smell odour trails laid down by worker ants and how male moths can possibly detect the scent of a female 10 km away.
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zoology biology benno meyer rochow science blog sound music Florian Nock

Our Humans’ Musical Past

Where does our musicality come from?

There are some human beings, myself included, who would argue that they could not live without music. It doesn’t matter whether you enjoy singing in a choir (like I did for many years), whistle or hum a tune to yourself or just listen to some good music: music is part of our lives. And it is important to highlight and make major events like inaugurations, celebrations, preparation for battle, funeral ceremonies, birthday parties, etc. more memorable. But what exactly is music and, in addition to humans, aren’t there musical animals as well, howling, warbling, singing, chirping, crooning their melodies into the world? —>