zoology biology benno meyer rochow science blog pregnancy human dog

False Alarm for Female Physiology

Have you ever heard of “pseudocyesis”?

Teachers can have an enormous impact on whether a child likes a subject or not. I, for instance, hated math at middle school, but with a new teacher at high school I began to love math to an extent that I wanted to study it at university. History was another subject, whose teacher killed my early interest in it, because he demanded that we kids byhearted hundreds of historic dates. Had he told us of the pseudo-pregnancies (also known as false or phantom pregnancy and pseudocyesis) of Queen Mary in 1555, Queen Draga of Serbia in 1900 and the Zar’s wife Alexandra in 1903, history classes could have been so much more interesting! —>

Round and Round

A Look at Rotations in the Animal World

I spent countless hours watching one of my sons swimming his rounds in a pool and preparing for backstroke competitions (and winning quite a few of them). At that time I began to wonder about the mechanics of the “wheeling” motions of the arms of the back-stroking swimmers. Seeing how they thrashed the water reminded me of propeller propulsion. Yet, surprisingly, true rotation, in other words turning in circles relative to some other part of the body of a machine, is virtually absent from the living world. —>

zoology biology benno meyer rochow science blog forensic entomology

The Insect Crown Witness

Crucial testimony without words

Many years ago I spent several highly enjoyable and educational months on the Trobriand Islands (nowadays also referred to as Kiriwina Islands) off the coast of the south-eastern end of Papua New Guinea. The islands became famous, because of Bronislaw Malinowski’s 1929 ethnographic book “The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia”. Local residents over there display a considerable knowledge concerning insects and their lives and on several, occasions I was warned not to drink from this or that stream because a particular insect had been sighted on or near the water, indicating a poor status of the water’s drinkability. I was also warned not to proceed any further into the jungle, when a particular species of fly was spotted that occurred when an animal corpse was somewhere nearby. —>