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So far Roar has created 32 blog entries.

Vocabulary Friday: Gibbous

No, not the fuzzy ape. That’s gibbon.


Gibbous is when the moon is fuller than half-full.


So we know the moon’s phases result from the relationship between the position of the moon, the earth, and the sun, which always shines on half of the moon, just like it always shines on half the earth.


Think of it this way:


Christina Wang is an aspiring law-student who has no “objection” to making bad puns. She’s a student by day, artist by night, and nerd all the time. She lives in Southern California with her turtle and fish. Follow her on tumblr at planetbob.tumblr.com

By |November 15th, 2013|Other Science|2 Comments

How Boxer Crabs Anemone an Enemy

boxer_crabs_illustration_CMT-smCheck our facts!



Chris Trlica is a writer, researcher, and gardener with a home in North Carolina. By day he sleeps, by night he wanders the city, occasionally prodding droplets of liquid metal with electrodes, and by eternal twilight he dreams of asteroid mining, pizzas and/or curries, and a vast gardened campus of sinister tilapia, mist-veiled queen anne outposts, and unfathomably cliquish precocious teenage mentats consumed with games that make baseball and hide-and-seek look like breathe-the-breath.

By |November 13th, 2013|No Backbones|1 Comment

Vocabulary Friday: Omphaloskepsis

Omphaloskepsis is the act of contemplating one’s own navel.


We should all do it!



Because our belly buttons are packed with life! With an average of 67 different types of bacteria living in each one of our belly buttons, each one of us has a unique microbial fingerprint.



That’s omphaloskepsis for you. Time to look on down and start omphaloskepsisizing (not a real word) about the personal jungle you carry with you.




Check our facts!

1. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/324/5931/1190.short




Julia Rice is an educator, designer and artist based in Raleigh, North Carolina. She develops and directs design education programs for young people at the Design Lab at the College of Design at NC State University, has a master’s in art therapy and counseling, and likes to tell funny stories. Whether she’s making things or making things happen, you can see what she’s up to at http://thedotank.tumblr.com/. Follow her on Twitter @IamTheDoTank

By |November 8th, 2013|Backbones, Other Science|5 Comments

We’re Going to Squeeze It

According to Neal Singer’s awesome book “The Wonders of Nuclear Fusion,”


That’s what we thought was happening inside us when we saw baby otters…


…or animal best friends…


. . . or anything to do with red pandas or sloths.


Then we found out that, whether from a need to protect or happy overload, cuteness arouses aggressive responses in people.


Check our facts!





Jaime Van Wart is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Raleigh, North Carolina. She works full-time as a User Experience Designer with IBM and freelances part-time under the studio name Ketchup and Mustard. See her work here and follow her on Twitter @saucebomb.

By |November 6th, 2013|Backbones|2 Comments

Saving Face: Putting a Dead Head Back Together




BuzzHootRoar_SavingFace_FNL4_05Check our facts:

1. Restorative Arts and Sciences 

2. Daniel at Shumate–Faulk Funeral Home

3. http://archfaci.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=480245

4. http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/com/108/3/233/


Meg O’Brien is designer—graphic and otherwise—living in the Pacific Northwest. She received a BFA in Graphic Design from the North Carolina State University College of Design. She is always seeking new ways and new skills to make herself a better designer and global citizen, and is particularly interested in pattern, distilling information visually, and the preservation of craft. Follow her @MegofBrien.

By |October 30th, 2013|Backbones|2 Comments

Jumping Spiders: an Evolutionary Love Story

Jumping spiders. Salticids. Who doesn’t love them? With their big eyes and furry mustaches, they’re the George Clooneys of the spider world, handsome and charismatic.


Well, maybe the Justin Timberlakes. When jumping spiders mate, males in the mood of the Habronattus genus dance up to their Britneys and Jessicas, waving their forelegs and grinding their abdomens.


Each species even sings its own song as it approaches its respective paramour.


In Arizona, jumping spiders of the same species often become isolated on mountaintops. Too far to travel, they only speak to spiders on their own “sky islands.”


Over time, these males modify their songs to please their girlfriends. Today, males on different mountaintops sing different songs, each tune driven by the preference of their female neighbors. Eventually, this type of sexual selection can lead to the development of new species.


Maybe budding Robin Thickes ready for their Mileys?



Bonus: Check out footage of real-live adorbs salticid mating dancing here.


Originally from North Carolina, illustrator Christine Fleming is slowly working her way around the country. Her work tends to have a whimsical feel with organic lines, delicate textures, and hidden details. Check out more of her work and her blog at www.mightcouldstudios.com, and follow her on Twitter @might_could.


By |October 23rd, 2013|Bugs|8 Comments

Vocabulary Friday: Polyphyodont

Polyphyodont! Animals that continuously replace their teeth!

They shed their chompers like yesterday’s news.



You and I replace our teeth only once. We’re diphyodonts.



Polyphyodonts lose and grow teeth until they die.

Animals like frogs, lizards, fish, alligators, and sharks are making our tooth fairy go broke.


By Roar.


By |October 18th, 2013|Vocabulary Friday|3 Comments

Get Moving! How to Navigate the Great Migrate.

Ancient civilizations couldn’t figure out how animals came and went with the seasons. They came up with all kinds of stories


But the truth behind navigation turned out to be way better than anything they could have imagined. Bobolinks take an annual trip of more than 12,000 miles. Monarch butterflies bat their wings for up to 6,000 miles.


With no GPS, how are they doing it? Lots of animals get their major move on using these three tools:

1. Sun compass


2. Stars. Most migrating songbirds travel by night. They learn constellation patterns and orient to those patterns. Light pollution throws a monkey wrench in their plans.


3. Magnetic fields.



Check our facts!

K. Able, Gathering of Angels: Migrating Birds and Their Ecology. Comstock Publishing, 2003.

W. Hamilton, III, The Auk. Vol. 79, No. 2 (April 1962), pp. 208-233.

O. Taylor, Monarch Butterfly: Top Ten Facts. April 2009.

W. M. Hamner, P.P. Hamner, S.W. Strand, Sun-compass Migration by Aurelia aurita: Population Retention and Reproduction in Saanich Inlet, British Columbia. June 1994, Volume 199, Issue 3, pp. 347-356.

All About Birds. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Poot, H., B. J. Ens, H. de Vries, M. A. H. Donners, M. R. Wernand, and J. M. Marquenie. 2008. Green light for nocturnally migrating birds. Ecology and Society 13(2): 47.

W. Wiltschko, U. Munro, H. Ford, R. Wiltschko, Aviation Orientation: […]

By |October 17th, 2013|Backbones, Bugs|2 Comments

The Best Thing About Baby Ants

penick1 penick2



Check our facts:http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0041595

Clint Penick, Ph.D., is an accomplished myrmecologist and artist with an inordinate fondness for ant larvae. In addition to making important discoveries like the one he illustrated for today’s post, he served as an instructor for the ASU Design School, designed a bat-inspired umbrella, and more. Does it ever end with Clint? We hope not. Follow him on Twitter and see if it does.

By |October 15th, 2013|Bugs|1 Comment

Vocabulary Friday: Actinopterygii

Actinopterygii! The class of animals known as bony fish!


With over 20,000 species, actinopterygians make up around half of all known vertebrate species.

Plus, the word’s just fun to say.

So if you’ve got an urgin’ for sturgeon or you’re true to your trout, don’t be shy! Go ahead and request your actinopterygii!



Well, maybe don’t do that.

By Roar.

By |October 11th, 2013|Vocabulary Friday|3 Comments