Hoot’s Adventures with Emu Poop

Speaking of poop, while wandering the Australian Kwongan sandplains, Hoot and his companion noticed not all emu poop was created equal1. It turns out that emus are pretty good at helping seeds spread around by scarfing down fruits and plant material and plopping out fertilized seed cakes all over the land2. Check out Hoot’s emu poop glamour shots and marvel at those long-legged seed dispersing machines, emus.



Check our facts!

1) Mccoy, N. (2009) The Geographical Mosaic of Myrmecochory in a Global Biodiversity Hotspot and the Fate of Myrmecochorous Seeds Dispersed by a Keystone Seed Disperser. (Master’s Thesis) Department of Biology, North Carolina State University.

2) Calviño-Cancela, M., R. Dunn, R., Van Etten, E. J. B. and B. Lamont, B. (2006), Emus as non-standard seed dispersers and their potential for long-distance dispersal. Ecography, 29: 632–640. doi: 10.1111/j.0906-7590.2006.04677.x

By |April 30th, 2014|Uncategorized|3 Comments

Poop Transplants

For the estimated 3 percent of people who have Clostridium difficile bacteria living in their guts, it’s usually no big deal. C. diff. just sort of hang out, kept in check by all their other bacteria gut-mates.


But sometimes the balance of power gets messed up. Whether it’s because of old age, illness, or antibiotics, those “good” bacteria get killed off, and C. diff begins taking over—leading to diarrhea, fever, and even death.


Traditional antibiotics often don’t work against C. diff. But know what does work? Poop transplants.03_Atteberry

Putting someone else’s poop in one’s body brings in reinforcements for the good bacteria, which whip C. diff back under control. (And the transplant is administered through a tube in your nose. Really!)


How well do these transfers work? In one study, 15 out of 16 patients who got a poop transplant recovered from their C. diff symptoms—while only four out of 13 patients on antibiotics got over their C. diff symptoms.


Want to avoid getting C. diff? Wash your hands. It makes it less likely that C. diff spores will hitch a ride into your mouth (and later—to your gut).




Check our facts!

Gould C.V., McDonald L.C. Bench-to-bedside review: Clostridium difficile colitis. Crit. Care. 2008; 12(1), 203. (DOI: 10.1186/cc6207)

Els van Nood, M.D., Anne Vrieze, M.D., Max Nieuwdorp, M.D., Ph.D., Susana Fuentes, Ph.D., Erwin G. Zoetendal, Ph.D., Willem M. de Vos, Ph.D., Caroline E. Visser, […]

By |April 23rd, 2014|Backbones, No Backbones|2 Comments

Animals in Spaaaaaaace


Editor’s note:

While we commend these brave creatures on their orbital journeys and appreciate the valuable job they do for us humans, we’d like to point out that many other animals went into space before and after them. Animals like monkeys, apes, dogs, mice, cats, goldfish, and chimpanzees. Some returned fine, and others suffered extreme conditions. Outer space is littered with the corpses of more than half a century of our investigations. Here’s a brief summary of some of our unfortunate animals: http://science.howstuffworks.com/dead-animals-in-space.htm, and you can read more about them online.

View/download Animals in Spaaaaaaace in poster form (PDF) 

Drawn by Hoot, written by Roar.

Check our facts!

1 http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/xmlui/handle/123456789/9288

2 http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/fruit_fly/#.UyMX1oVPJS4

3 http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/ast.2005.5.690

4 http://jeb.biologists.org/content/209/16/3209.short

5 http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/9-12/features/F_Animals_in_Space_9-12.html

6 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12528722?dopt=Abstract

7 http://www.nsbri.org/EDUCATION-and-TRAINING/Teaching-Resources/Middle-School/Butterflies-in-Space/

8 http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition22/butterflies.html

9 http://jeb.biologists.org/content/212/24/4033.full

10 http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0064793

11 http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/786.html

12 http://newsdesk.si.edu/releases/world-s-first-spidernaut-lands-smithsonian

13 http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/space_spiders_live.html


By |April 16th, 2014|Backbones, Bugs|4 Comments

For Love or Supper: Why Critters Light Up

Breaking news: Hundreds of underwater species radiate neon greens, reds and oranges as they shimmy through the ocean’s depths.1 But sea creatures aren’t the only animals at ease in the limelight. Buzz Hoot Roar guest-author Matt Shipman offers a few good reasons why sea and land animals put on the ultimate light show.






Check our facts!

1 http://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blogs/research-posts/researchers-reveal-covert-world-of-fish-biofluorescence?utm_source=social-media&utm_medium=facebook&utm_term=2014-01-08-wed&utm_campaign=biofluorescence

2 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00227-005-0085-3

3 http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.ento.53.103106.093346

4 http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/baldwin/webbugs/3005_5006/Docs/firefly%20paper.pdf

Harvey , E.N. and K.P. Stevens. 1928. The brightness of the light of the West Indian elaterid beetle, pyrophorus. J. Gen. Physiol. 12: 269-272.

Nicol, J.A.C. 1978. Bioluminescence and vision, pp. 367-398. In P.J. Herring , Bioluminescence in action. Academic, London.

*Measured at around 143 cd/m2, their luminescence is comparable to the average computer screen, which can range anywhere from 50-300 cd/m2.

Written by Matt Shipman

Matt Shipman (@shiplives) is a public information officer at North Carolina State University and a freelance science writer. He also writes the Communication Breakdown blog, which focuses on science communication. He lives near Raleigh, in a house full of humans.

Illustrated by James Hutson

James Hutson (@jameshutson) is a writer, illustrator and animator.  He is co-director at Bridge8 (www.bridge8.com.au), a foresight and futures agency fostering critical, creative and compassionate thinking through workshops, animations and artefacts.


By |April 9th, 2014|Bugs, No Backbones|3 Comments

Gluteal Crease: Where the Butt Crack Begins

Gluteal crease! The top part of your butt crack!


A great place to live, if you’re bacteria. Thanks to your g.c.’s warm, “moist” environment, a bouquet of biota feels right at home. Humidity-loving microbes like Staphylococcus and Corynebacteria  delight in hanging out in there (and other warm, moist areas like inside your belly button and in your toe cracks).



There, they scarf down your sweat, and in the process generate what scientists call “butt funk.”1,2


As an aside, plastic surgeons want you to know the “most attractive” gluteal crease is a v-shaped one.3 In case you were looking for something else to dress up.



Check Our Facts!

  1. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/324/5931/1190.short
  2. http://www.nature.com/nrmicro/journal/v9/n4/abs/nrmicro2537.html
  3. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00266-004-3114-6

Written by Roar, art by Hoot and Roar.

Special thanks to Dr. Holly Menninger, who always keeps her eyes peeled for good gluteal crease information. You can follow her on Twitter @drholly.

By |April 2nd, 2014|Backbones, Vocabulary Friday|3 Comments