Summer Reruns: Vocabulary Quiz

Buzz, Hoot, and Roar are taking a little summer break for the next couple of weeks. When we come back, we’ll have lots of cool things and more top-of-the-line art from our world’s best science artists to share with you. We wish we were back already so we could show you all the things we have to show you. Until then, it’s summer reruns! This week, brush up on your vocabulary to impress your friends. Quiz yourself! Then be a know-it-all!

Petrichor. Is it:

  1. the official scientific descriptive for the Elephant Man’s bones?

  2. a Petri dish that’s become a little “off color”?

  3. the word for the way it smells after it rains?

Get the answer here!


Polyphyodont. Is it:

  1. an animal that continuously replaces its teeth?

  2. a space-age binding compound used for waterproofing decks?

  3. a multi-colored avian species?

Get the answer here!


Actinopterygii. Is it:

  1. a not-so-great consolation prize on “The Price is Right”?

  2. the class of animals known as bony fish?

  3. neither of these things. Buzz Hoot Roar made that word up to sound smart.

Get the answer here!


Omphaloskepsis. Is it:

  1. the act of contemplating one’s belly button?

  2. a school of thought in which people are skeptical about the relevance of elephants?

  3. a group of individuals who, through a series of research-oriented expeditions, have scientifically proven the existence of Oompa Loompas?

Get the answer here!


By |May 27th, 2014|Vocabulary Friday|0 Comments

Petrichor: Your new favorite word

Petrichor is Roar’s favorite word.


It comes from the Greek “petros,” which means stone, and “ichor,” which is the blood that flows through the veins of gods.


It’s the word for the smell that comes after a rain. You know that smell? The one that’s like the time you fell in love during the spring?


Or the way it feels to be quiet?


The smell of the earth, with plants and animals and dirt and rocks and clouds and everything? When it’s the thickest and lushest and fullest?


That’s petrichor.

Here’s what makes it:

  1. When it’s dry for a little while, plants release oils into the ground1,2.6a

  2. Scientists think these oils stop seeds from growing in tough, dry times36b

  3. Meanwhile, Actinobacteria kick the bucket when it’s dry, releasing something called geosmin46c

  4. When it rains, petrichor and geosmin are released from rocks and dirt, and we can smell it.6d

So it’s all that. Plus stones. Plus the blood that flows through the veins of gods.

By Roar

Check our facts!






By |May 16th, 2014|Other Science, Vocabulary Friday|8 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|1 Comment

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

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