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Three forms of terrestrial mammal locomotion:

PLANTIGRADE: “sole walking”—animals walk by “planting” the full soles of their feet on the ground

DIGITIGRADE: “finger/toe walking”—animals walk with all or most of the length of their toes (“digits”), but not the full soles of their feet

UNGULIGRADE: “hoof walking”—animals walk on only their nails, usually hooves (as in “ungulates”)



The Gouldian finch are small, brightly colored birds with green backs, yellow bellies, and purple breasts  with a light blue uppertail and a cream undertail. Sometimes called lady gouldians, their facial color can vary, but black is the most common. Gouldian finch chicks are equipped with blue phosphorescent beads along their mouths, making it easy for the parents to feed them in the darkness of the nest cavity.
Photo credit: Greg Grall/National Aquarium
I was curious, I often think of sharks as instinct-driven. Is there any evidence of learning or distinct individual behavior?



Wow, I have no idea how I didn’t see this until now! Sorry about that!

This is actually a really, really interesting question. Scientists had, for a really, really long time, basically assumed that sharks were mindless, instinctual killing machines.

However, in the 1950s, Eugenie Clark, my favorite scientist ever, did some experiments where she actually trained lemon sharks to respond to a stimulus. Basically, the sharks learned to press a target and ring a bell in order to get food.


This awesome lady also trained nurse sharks to distinguish between different colored targets to get food.

There have also been studies that have shown scalloped hammerheads, which travel in large schools, actually have pretty complex social structures! There are established hierarchies based on size and gender.

There was even a recent study that suggested that sharks have “friends”- that is, other sharks that they prefer to spend time with! AND that sharks are actually able to learn behaviors from the sharks they spend a lot of time with! (This study is actually really, really cool, and you can read an article about it here!)

So, yeah. Sharks don’t really have “thoughts” or “feelings” like humans do, but they’re definitely way smarter than most people think! They sort of do have different personalities (some tend to be more aggressive, some individuals more mellow, some more adventurous, more social, etc).

Of course, they are really driven by their instincts, but then, so is everything. But that definitely doesn’t mean they aren’t smart, or capable of some really amazing behaviors!!

And yet here’s another reason I love sharks. I believe that any animal is able to make choices through their instincts, this doesn’t mean they actually think, but maybe there is something out there we don’t know. And sharks are no exeption. There is yet too much to learn about them and this type of behavior always surprises me.


Baby bats are very tiny and helpless. The mother bat is able to locate their offspring by the smell: they know exactly what their babies smell like, so they never get lost in the cave full of hundreds of other bats. Mom and baby also have unique sounds: when she returns from a night looking for food, she follows the noise that her offspring does, which she recognizes right away, and goes after him, also searching for his familiar scent.

The Black Heron (Egretta ardesiaca) employs a unique hunting method called canopy feeding. The Black Heron fans its wings in an umbrella over the surface of the water, and the shade this creates attracts fish.
Photo: Ben Cranke/Getty images

More sketchbook drawings today! Here are two of the most well known ocean predators around the world, and though both are sharks they are built and behave quite differently from each other. Top left we have the tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) Which spends much of its time in shallower waters feeding on fish, seabirds, and other animals closer to shore. They have a flatter belly and the lower keel of their tail fin is much shorter with the top which is elongated. Similar to nurse, and leopard sharks. This allows it to cruise nearer to the bottom but still have a lot of power in that fin. The bottom left on the other hand is the great white (Carcharodon carcharias) which is a pelagic shark living in open water and thus has a very mackerel-like build to it. The top and bottom of the tail fin are congruent and its body more rounded in shape. This shark is built more for quick extreme bursts of power than the tiger, and hunts by rushing it’s prey from below often jettisoning it into the air. The great white shares this behavior with the mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) and a body plan with mako and the salmon shark (Lamna ditropis) the great white hunts a variety of often larger prey like seals, sea lions, etc.., and is known as the largest predatory shark.



I have been a cat owner my whole life and I literally never knew that tiger lilies and stargazers were also highly toxic to cats.  Even drinking the water from the vase that lilies are in can kill the cat!  I brought in a tiger lily from our yard today and just thought to look it up and found out (and of course removed the lily from our house as soon as I saw).  How scary!

Other toxic flowers for cats:
Amaryllis (Amaryllis sp.)
Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale)
Azaleas and Rhododendrons (Rhododendron sp.)
Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)
Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum sp.)
Cyclamen (Cyclamen sp.)
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe sp.)
Lilies (Lilium sp.)
Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)
Oleander (Nerium oleander)
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.)
Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)
Spanish thyme (Coleus ampoinicus)
Tulip and Narcissus bulbs (Tulipa and Narcissus sp.)
Yew (Taxus sp.)

Important info for cat friends!!!



Norwegian forest cats are the best.
They look like little snow lions.

The colloquial term for them is “skogkatten”.
They’re also called “fairy cats” in Norway, because they’re so pretty.
They run down trees headfirst.
They’re fricking gigantic and they purr really loud.
They literally walk over snow like motherloving Legolas.
In Norse mythology, skogkatts pull the goddess Freya’s carriage.
Who doesn’t want a carriage pulled by cats?
Viking cats. End of story.

Oh what a terrible thing it appears that I haven’t reblogged these glorious beasts this year yet