biology zoology blog benno meyer leg balance

Standing on One Leg is Comfortable

For some (I’m not pulling your Leg)

My children’s favourite character of Richard Scarry’s books was the one-legged “Lowly Worm”. When I was a kid there was no “Lowly Worm”, but I knew Maasai men often stood on one leg when resting from work or activity and I wondered if that wasn’t uncomfortable. Upon seeing photos of this unusual form of ‘relaxation’ and wanting to be a little different from others, I myself started standing on one leg when waiting for the bus or tram. Needless to say, I earned some peculiar looks from bystanders, who must have thought that I had hurt one of my legs. To be honest, it wasn’t a very comfortable resting position, but for some people (and not just the Maasai) and especially for birds it seemingly is. —>—>

biology zoology blog benno meyer color dye animal

Famous Because of their Colour

Some animals really are

I had once bought quite a nice shirt in Funchal Madeira (incidentally the place star footballer Cristiano Ronaldo was born) and I wore this shirt on the day I handled some fresh squid. Squid, as most people know, have the ability to secrete a dark liquid, often referred to as “ink”. It’s their form of defence against an attacker and a way to disappear behind a black cloud when the squid’s ink is released in the water. Little did I know that this ink is almost indelible: my squid-ink-stained shirt was probably washed a dozen times, but the stains remained as “brownish reminders” of the time I once handled the squid. —>—>

biology zoology blog benno meyer Useless organs

Useless Organs

But are they there for a reason?

One of my earlier blogs dealt with organs that were absent in some organisms even though we would have expected them to be present: take the absence of red blood in some fish or the lack of lungs in some salamanders. This blog is about organs termed ‘useless’ and I was thinking of them in my dentist’s chair, while he was giving one of my wisdom teeth a root canal treatment. Wisdom teeth in humans are sometimes called useless, because the relatively small jaw of humans no longer has the space for the wisdom teeth (is one opinion). But in my case, all 4 wisdom teeth are in good shape and I use them. Another human organ often referred to as useless is the appendix and we can certainly survive without it very well. Some people would include the foreskin of us males. But useless? The appendix is thought to have a function as a reservoir for good gut bacteria and the foreskin is a protective cover. Therefore, both cannot be deemed to be totally useless. However, I’d say the nipples on the chest of boys and men are indeed “useless”, not possessing any particular function that I can imagine. —>—>