biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow sunglasses birds

Internal Sunglasses

Some birds appear to have sunglasses

Although I myself did not have to wear glasses (except perhaps sunglasses) until I turned 55, millions of people on Earth may view this simple ‘tool’ to improve the resolving power of their eyes as one of the greatest inventions ever made. Photographers, microscopists, and opticians can tell you that the aperture of an optical system not only controls the amount of light admitted (and thus the brightness of the image you see) but also the resolving power of the system. —>—>

biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow fish desert water


That sounds suspiciously fishy, doesn’t it

Several early explorers of the Australian interior (and sadly in recent years some tourists as well) have lost their lives there, because they were unable to satisfy their need of fluid intake and died of thirst and dehydration. The Australian desert is dry, hot, and treeless and yet reports from as far ago as 1845 by Eyre and 1861 by Burke and Willis state that Central Australian Aborigines caught fishes and had names for them – in the desert! So, what kinds of fish could possibly survive in the desert? Well, along tropical seashores one can meet the so-called mud skippers, a group of fishes that hop along tidal flats, the sandy beach or may even climb onto the lower branches of mangrove trees in search of food, like insects, spiders, and worms perhaps that they consume on land. Eels, too, are known to be able to survive out on land especially when in wet grass for some days. Even some catfish have been reported to survive for a while out of water. However, none of that applies to the Australian desert species. —>—>

Urine, Butterflies and Moths

How to catch a purple emperor

What can urine be good for? Ask people and the answer would probably be “it’s the body’s waste; it’s no good for anything” (well, had you asked Morarji Desai he would have given you a surprisingly different answer!). Anyway, as a high school student, I used urine and formalin in an experiment that was designed to show how the urea in human piddle can be a basic component of plastics. I enjoyed that experiment and believe children today would also enjoy this bit of chemistry. Anyway I was reminded of that high school experiment in Trinidad, when I met a ”Lepidopterologist” (someone who loves collecting butterflies and moths), who explained to me that the best way to attract certain species was to soak a piece of cloth in human urine and hang it into a tree and wait for some winged “jewels” to arrive. —>—>