Top - Malayan Forest Gecko (Cyrtodactylus pulchellus) 

Center/Bottom - Crested Gecko (Correlophus ciliatus)

Why do geckos (and some other terrestrial lizards) lick their eyeballs?

Wouldn’t you, if you could? I sure would. Other than the fact that they have cool long tongues, geckos (and many of their terrestrial brethren) have non-functional eyelids, but rely strongly on their eyesight. In order to maintain their vision, they lick their eyes!

Several mammals, such as okapi and giraffe, also lick their eyes, though they still have functional eyelids.

Unrelated cool fact! "Eyelash geckos", otherwise known as crested geckos, were once thought to be extinct! In 1994, however, they were re-discovered in a southern province of New Caledonia. They bred easily in captivity, and are now one of the most popular pet reptiles.

Malayan Forest Gecko via Wikimedia Commons

"Lizard Lick" via It’s Erin! on Flickr

Atlas Moth (Attacus atlas)

The Atlas moth is the largest moth in the world (measuring over 10 inches across), but that doesn’t mean it’s long-lived; once it emerges from its cocoon, its sole purpose is to breed - like many butterflies and moths, it doesn’t even have a mouth! After about a week outside the cocoon, they die.

De uitlandsche kapellen: voorkomende in de drie waereld-deelen Asia, Africa en America. Pieter Cramer and Caspar Stroll, 1779.

Atlas Moth on Wikimedia Commons

Blue-rumped Parrot (Psittinus cyanurus)
The Miscellany of Natural History. 1833.

Blue-rumped Parrot (Psittinus cyanurus)

The Miscellany of Natural History. 1833.

Atlantic Puffin - Fratercula arctica
Despite popular misconception, polar bears and penguins would never naturally interact. However, the Arctic does have puffins! These black-and-white seabirds have often been mistaken for penguins, but are a result of convergent evolution, not relation.
In adults, the brightly-colored beaks and “horns” on the eyes are part of their breeding plumage, and similarly to the antlers of moose and deer, are shed every year.
Puffins, like penguins, tend towards monogamy - but unlike penguins, their monogamy is largely due to fidelity towards their nesting site, not their mate. Generations of puffin families will nest in the same area, and if one gets “kicked out” or dies and another female chooses the area as a nest site, they will often find a different mate.
Brehms Tierleben, Allgemeine Kunde des Tierreichs. Prof. Otto zur Strassen, 1910.

Atlantic Puffin - Fratercula arctica

Despite popular misconception, polar bears and penguins would never naturally interact. However, the Arctic does have puffins! These black-and-white seabirds have often been mistaken for penguins, but are a result of convergent evolution, not relation.

In adults, the brightly-colored beaks and “horns” on the eyes are part of their breeding plumage, and similarly to the antlers of moose and deer, are shed every year.

Puffins, like penguins, tend towards monogamy - but unlike penguins, their monogamy is largely due to fidelity towards their nesting site, not their mate. Generations of puffin families will nest in the same area, and if one gets “kicked out” or dies and another female chooses the area as a nest site, they will often find a different mate.

Brehms Tierleben, Allgemeine Kunde des Tierreichs. Prof. Otto zur Strassen, 1910.

Death by “Marsh Fever” (Malaria)

More people die of malaria every single day than have died of Ebola in the past decade.

During an average year, more people die of influenza every month than have ever even been infected with Ebola.

This is because mosquito and airborne transmission are far more effective than direct bodily-fluid contact. It’s fairly simple to eliminate bodily fluid transmission in countries with ready access to chlorine and water. Mosquito bites and airborne droplets are almost impossible to eliminate - all we can hope to do is control them.

There are much scarier things out there than Ebola.

Malaria" by Giulio Aristide Sartorio, 1905 (top), 1883 (bottom).

biomedicalephemera:

Have some time on your hands? Know how to read? Want to help science?

Join me at the Smithsonian Digital Volunteers Transcription Center!

There are thousands of collection items, field journals, and cataloged diaries and specimens at the Smithsonian, and because the pages and data are hand-written or irregular, digital transcription is unable to decode them.

This is where the Digital Volunteers come in! By transcribing and double-checking the transcription efforts of others prior to final review by Smithsonian staffers, we save the Smithsonian thousands of hours of initial squinting and trying to make sense of semi-illegible words.

Cursive is largely not taught in schools anymore, but the scientific value of these documents and specimens will still be true long after we’re gone. By transcribing things now and getting them into a digital database that can be searched and organized, scientists and historians of both tomorrow and decades in the future will benefit.

There are more difficult transcription pieces (such as the top page posted here), as well as very simple and easy-to-read pieces, such as The Bumblebee Project (SO MANY BEES).

This is where I procrastinate, these days. It’s strangely addicting.

scientificillustration:

Summer dance of the May-flies: Gilbert White, 1771.
I just wanted to thank you for posting the transcription project for the Smithsonian! It's super cool. Have a great day! — Asked by keepinitkocher

Is it weird that I’m all about this Bumblebee Collection? Cause I totally am.

I am the best at mindless tasks that I can do while listening to biology/virology/skepticism podcasts. They make me happy!

Not to say I haven’t gotten into the Biodiversity collection field notes enough that I forgot to pick up my husband from work today. Cause that happened. Oops.

As PSA as True as Ever

I’m Raymond Massey, and I have a special message for senior citizens.

Today’s doctors, drugs, and medical devices truly work “medical miracles” for young and old alike.

But there are some as phoney as a three-dollar bill!

….

Investigate before you invest in health services or products. Help stamp out quackery!

Video thanks to A/V Geeks Film Archive and Internet Archive

wapiti3:

Johann Eusebius Voets descriptions and illustrations hartschaaligter insects, Coleoptera on Flickr.

Publication info Erlangen, JJ Palm ,1793-1802.
Contributing Library:
Cornell University Library
BioDiv. Library

Could you post some stuff about migraine auras? I used to get an aura before a migraine (this sort of sparkly streak in the vision of my left eye). For the last few years though I only get the aura, and maybe a very mild migrane (or no migrane at all). What's up with that? (And I am just realising the aura is always on the left, so that's got to mean something too, right?) Thanks! — Asked by thecranewife

That’s a scintillating scotoma! I posted something on it in the past, but I can try to find more!

And the way that migraines work, it’s common to both “grow out of them” (if they started before 30, and especially before 25) and for aura-only migraines to be common before that point.

While it’s clearly a relief for most people to not have the debilitating headache, it’s still important to pay attention to the aura, because in addition to (possibly) signalling an oncoming headache, it also distorts the senses, and you don’t want to keep driving or operating heavy machinery as if nothing’s happening while you deal with it.

As for it occurring on the left side…maybe? But probably not something significant. If it gets worse or more frequent, you obviously want to see a doctor, because some migraine symptoms are also shared with more serious conditions, and people who have migraines are at the same risk as others of having other serious brain conditions, such as aneurysm and tumors. Not that it’s likely, but you always want to make sure to rule things like that out.

More on Migraines from the NIH

Migraines at Mayo Clinic

biomedicalephemera:

A short film reel describing how to avoid disease from 1940. From what I gather, don’t play with rats or flies and wash your hands. Probably 80% of the people in this film seem completely confused as to what’s going on. It’s fascinatingly weird.

Totally! Like, humans with actual medical credentials! And the tumblrite docs (I don’t know if there’s a specific tag they conglomerate under, other than #medicine/#medical) are cool, too! 
But really, platypodes don’t want to deal with your nonsense. Don’t anger them. Also SERIOUSLY don’t try to live off of Pizza Hut delivery food. YOU WILL DIE.

Totally! Like, humans with actual medical credentials! And the tumblrite docs (I don’t know if there’s a specific tag they conglomerate under, other than #medicine/#medical) are cool, too!

But really, platypodes don’t want to deal with your nonsense. Don’t anger them. Also SERIOUSLY don’t try to live off of Pizza Hut delivery food. YOU WILL DIE.