biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow blue

Being Blue is Beautiful but Difficult

Feeling blue is not so nice but easier

Blue is undoubtedly the most pervasive colour on our “Blue Planet”: the sky is blue (well, most of the time during the day), the sea is blue (unless polluted or full of green plankton), mountains and forests are (at least in the paintings of Higashiyama Kaii) and even horses can be blue (witness Franz Marc’s beautiful creations). However, when it comes to blue coloration in animals we have to admit that blue is quite a rare colour. As a child I often visiting the local zoo with my grandfather. I must have been really lucky, because I always stopped at the cage with a huge male mandrill Mandrillus sphinx, a monkey with a frighteningly bright red and blue nose as well as behind. The males of this African species belong to one of the few mammalian species to display bright red and blue coloration. And he does all that with a total lack of red and blue pigments, because blue pigments (with perhaps some very few exceptions like those described from so-called cyanophore cells in the skins of callionymid fishes) are unknown from vertebrates. By the way, do not believe when you find in the internet statements like, for example, the green colour in many frogs is created by yellow and blue pigments. There are no blue pigments. But if no blue pigments are there, but some vertebrates do display blue coloration, how come they are blue? And for what reason would any animal want to be blue in the first place? (That’s something for another blog). —>—>

biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow appendicularians (1)

Appendicularians

Certainly more than just an appendix to vertebrate evolution

The subject of this week’s science blog takes me back several decades when I was a fisheries and marine sciences student spending time on a research vessel with two female student colleagues. My professor had given me the task to measure sperm motility in a number of commercially important fish species. However, that man seemed to have had no idea whatsoever of life and research on a ship and that the ship’s engines produce a constant vibration that makes it impossible to distinguish under the microscope actively moving or passively jittering sperm. That ship-based project was nonsense and I did something very different from what I was meant to do: I ditched that incompetent academic supervisor and followed my own interest. (caught trigger fish and lit a cigarette with a jellyfish) —>—>

biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow Not Only Seeds Get Dispersed By Wind

Not Only Seeds Get Dispersed By Wind

Animals get blown off course as well

Everybody knows at least one plant whose seeds are dispersed by the wind: the dandelion. Its seeds and those of thistles as well look like little umbrellas with a tuft of fine and flimsy hairs at the top that catch the wind. Willow trees also produce seeds that are transported by the wind and the wing- or propeller-like seeds of the sycamore (also known as the planetree Platanus occidentalis) are familiar to most people. However, the wind disperses not just seeds (and pollen, of course), but also animals. —>—>