Monday, February 27, 2012

The Animal That Smells Like a Movie Theater....

I've mostly written about animals that are fairly common and well known, but I think it is time to branch out into some more exotic and unknown animals.  So today kicks off a month of unusual animals posts.  First off is an animal that I first saw at the San Diego Zoo.  My dad was an analytical chemist for CREST, the science portion of the zoo.  It was his job to pick me up from school every Monday when my mom was too busy.  This gave me the luxury of going back to work with him at the zoo every Monday.  As you can imagine I got lots of behind the scenes tours and saw far more of the zoo than the average person.  One of my favorite animals that wasn't a main attraction was the Binturong. 

When you hear the name Binturong, the thought springs to mind is likely what the heck kind of animal is that?  It is a medium sized brown critter that looks like a fox, raccoon, cat, and maybe a little dog all mixed together  It is actually part of the Viverridae family which includes civets and genets, which resemble cats crossed with weasels.  The most striking feature of this animal has nothing to do with it's looks but actually it's smell.  A Binturong smells like fresh buttered popcorn!  Binturongs use their scent markings to signal when they are ready to mate.  Since they live solitarily, scent markings are needed to bring animals together for those romantic times of year.

Binturongs are one of the few animals that can use delayed implantation or embryonic diapause.  This is when a female can mate and delay the embryo from implanting until conditions are better.  They cannot delay implantation for long term, but a few weeks can mean the difference between starving and surviving to a Binturong.

Binturongs live in the trees and have hands evolved to live in a tree lifestyle.  Their paws have claws that are perfect grapsers on tree limbs.
Hope you enjoyed being introduced to a fun creature, next weeks post will be about another unusual animal.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Puppy For Valentine's Day?

As much as I would love a puppy for Valentine's Day, my living situation doesn't allow for that right now.  So I'm going to do the next best thing, discuss their relatives.  Today we will get back to regular biomimicry posts with Wolves.  Wolf packs consist of an alpha mated pair, their offspring, and some occasional stray juveniles.  In low population areas the mated pair can be monogamous for life.  making it one of the few animal species that exhibit monogamy.

Wolves have five toes on front paws and four toes on rear paws.  Their legs are built with elbows pointed in and feet pointed out.  This is for optimal running and gripping on difficult terrain, while also allowing them to leap and grasp prey.  In cold climates wolves can the flow of blood close to their skin to conserve body heat.  This keeps warm blood close to internal organs and away form outside of their body where heat is loss.  Keeping warm is one of the body's most difficult tasks and burns lots of calories.  By cutting down on heat loss the wolf doesn't need to eat massive amounts of food.  It is the same reason why people in freezing temperatures have to eat more calories per day to maintain body weight. Their foot pads are regulated independently from the rest of their body.  their temperature is kept right about tissue freezing point.

Wolves howl to assemble the pack, alert the pack of danger, or locate each other during storms.  Wolves have superior hearing being able to hear up to 26kHz which is superior to all other members of the canine family.  Their sense of smell is considerably less powerful that many domestic dogs.  Their eyesight is also less powerful than many domestic dog breeds but they have better night vision.  Wolves will set up ambushes, with a single decoy wolf running ahead while the rest of the pack attacks from behind.  Wolves will eat the internal organs first, followed by the muscles second.  Wolves prefer larger prey but will eat fowls during mating season and even snakes and lizards if made available. 

Hope everybody has a Valentines  Day is filled with love and if you don't have that special someone kiss your puppy or cat, I know I have many years and never came away disappointed.

That's it for now,

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Clean Eating

So I know typically I post about animals and biomimicry, but today I want to share another passion of mine, clean eating.  This is eating food which is as close to possible as its' natural state.  So no processed food.  Obesity has become rampant and people without weight problems have so many ailments that are a direct link to eating heavily altered and processed foods. 

Now I'm about to put forth some controversial ideas out there.  When I tell people I'm against taking antibiotics, or sleep aids, anything for an extended period of time I get a lot of funny looks.  I mean I am a biologist right?  Don't biologist come up with new cures and solve the world's problems?  We do but I believe science is trying to fix too many surface problems.  If we didn't focus so much time on the next weight loss drug, or headache pills, and all of the minor problems, more attention could be put into solving cancer, AIDS, very big not self inflicted issues.

Let me ask some of you out there if you have any of these problems, minor but daily headaches, joint pain, acid reflux, anxiety, sleep problems, overweight?  These all can be fixed or vastly improved through clean eating.  I know because I suffered from daily headaches that got to be debilitating, inability to sleep, no energy, and overweight.  These all have been fixed in less than a month.  I've lost 8lbs, not a single headache, dreaming for the first time in months, and feeling more alive than ever.

How does one eat clean?  Very easy avoid any processed food and eat as much natural food as possible.  Basically anything that comes in a package is bad news, sodas and many juices are bad, white sugar and flour are bad, if it doesn't rot in less than a week it has been altered heavily and is full of preservatives.  It is nearly impossible to eat 100% clean and I don't.  But the better you eat the more your body will restore to its' original blueprint of perfection.  You may not be stick thin but you will be a healthy weight, you may not sleep for 10 hrs but you will sleep as much as your body needs.  It works for everything.  Eating non-processed also means cooking a lot and not eating out.  I cook daily and make extra to take on my lunches.  I eat a huge variety of meat, fruit, veggies, nuts, whole grains, because I get bored with food easily.

I also like to pair the clean eating with moderate exercise.  The more you are active the better your circulation, the more energy you get, the more calories you burn.  It can be nearly any type of activity, I ride my horses and walk, so nothing extreme.  It will only enhance the clean eating.  That's all for now,