Bearded Wonders

Hipsters of the animal world, these creatures’ beards boast form and function.

Harvester ants, the original bearded ladies, have long goatees (called psammophores) they use for scooping up otherwise slippery sand and seeds. Their lovely chin locks can increase their carrying capacity up to 200 percent.


Male goats, purveyors of the first goatees, urinate on their beards to appear sexier to hot-to-trot females.

male_goatWalruses. No, they don’t want to sell you any Quaker Oats or diabetes supplies. Walruses just want to use their mustaches (made of hairs called vibrissae) to snarfle around the ocean floor, looking for mussels and clams to eat.


Although they don’t look bearded, Geoffroyi’s marmosets use their Chairman Mao-like hairdos to let the ladies know they are the sexiest game in town. It works for the marmoset, but did it work for Mao?


Bearded dragons not only use their beards to signal sexiness but also for psychological warfare. Flashing the extra face shows that they could fight if they wanted to.




By Roar and David Eichenberger.

David Eichenberger is an illustrator/muralist from Raleigh, North Carolina.  He currently works at the Autism Society of North Carolina as an art specialist. You can see his most current projects on his Instagram feed, @troubleberger or follow him on twitter at @dmeichenberger. His website is davideichenberger.carbonmade.com


By |January 28th, 2015|Backbones|0 Comments

Keepin’ It Glassy: How Some Animals Turn to Glass to Survive

Thirsty? Why not turn yourself to glass until you can get a drink? That’s what a tiny fly called the sleeping chironomid does.

As babies passing their days in the super-dry areas of Africa, sleeping chironomids live in little huts they make for themselves out of dirt and slobber.

The problem with living in a puddle in a super-dry place is that puddles don’t last too long. Everybody dries up.

If we dried up, our cells would collapse and would be irrevocably damaged. Nobody could bring us back to life. If we lose just 14 percent of our bodies’ water, we croak. Remember all those leathery people they find in the desert sometimes? That’s people for you.

To keep their cells from the fate of humans, sleeping chironomids first make a whole bunch of sugar called trehalose, which takes the place of water in their cells.





Other animals, like sea monkeys and the ever-indestructible tardigrades, do it, too!


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By Roar and Chris Hedstrom.

Chris Hedstrom is a entomologist in Corvallis, OR studying biological control for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. He’s also an illustrator and photographer. Check out new drawings, photos and writing as they appear at chedstrom.tumblr.com or oregonbeatsheet.wordpress.com.

By |January 14th, 2015|Uncategorized|2 Comments