Stinky Communication Sounds Fishy

Herring send messages through farts and bubbles
We all know that passing gas in public sends a message. Usually that message is unwelcome. Among herring, however, communicating through flatulence may not be as fishy as it sounds.  Continue reading

Seed Sizes, Big and Small

epiphytic orchids Coco de Mer palm tree
(Left) A seed and mature specimen of the Coco de Mer tree. (Right) A seed pod containing thousands of seeds of an epiphytic orchid. Also pictured is a mature orchid plant.

When it comes to seeds, there is no standard size. Seeds are widely varied in shape and size. Consider the contenders for the extremes of seed size.

The world’s smallest seeds are produced by certain ephiphytic orchids. Seeds can be as small as 1/300th of an inch (85 micrometers). The weight of one of them is about 1/35,000th of an ounce (0.81 micrograms). By way of comparison, a typical grain of salt is about 300 micrometers in length. This tiny specimen can grow into a beautiful orchid that is known as an “air plant.” It does not grow on the ground in the dirt, but rather attaches itself to other plants, such as tree bark, and gathers moisture and nutrients from the air.

On the other end of the see spectrum is the massive seed of the Coco de Mer palm tree. The mature fruit can weigh up 66 pounds (30 kg) and can be up to 19.7 inches (50 cm) in diameter. The fruit, which requires 6–7 years to mature and a further two years to germinate, is sometimes also referred to as the Sea Coconut, Bum Seed, double coconut, coco fesse, or Seychelles Nut. The tree that springs from that massive seed can grow to be 112 feet (34 m) tall.

Man Flu Really is More Severe

Man Flu is real

Women have long disparaged men for acting as if their flu symptoms are more severe than those experienced by women. As it turns out, the men have been right all along.

According to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, women possess a natural protection against the flu: estrogen. The female sex hormone has been shown to hamper the replication of many types of viruses, including influenza, HIV, Ebola, and hepatitis.

The difference in disease intensity between men and women is dramatic, with women showing a nearly 1,000-fold reduction in viral replications than their male counterparts.

The next time you see a man seeking sympathy because of the severity of his flu symptoms, consider offering kindness; he may actually have a legitimate complaint.

No One is Worthless. Everyone is Worth at Least $160

The monetary value of the chemicals in the human body is $160

If you have ever heard someone described as “worthless,” you would do well to remember that no one truly qualifies as such. Setting aside the value of life and what a person chooses to do with his or her life, everyone has some value — $160, in fact. Continue reading

The Eyes Have It

tuatara has three eyes

The tuatara, a New Zealand reptile, stands out in several different ways:

  • They have a third eye on the top center of their heads.
  • They have two rows of teeth on the top of their mouths that overlap the single row of teeth on the bottom.
  • They are able to hear, even though they have no external ear.
  • They have between 5 and 6 billion base pairs of genes in their DNA, compared to the 3 billion in human DNA.


One Polar Bear, Please — Hold the Liver

 polar bear livers highly toxic vitamin a 
If you are stranded in the Arctic and happen to have access to a polar bear for your lunch, think twice about eating the liver. Polar bear livers are extremely high in Vitamin A, cadmium, arsenic, and a host of other toxic substances. Your little polar bear liver snack will likely result in hair loss, extreme flakey skin, headaches,  abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, etc. If you are already in a weakened condition, that polar bear liver may well be your last meal. 
Oh… and it’s not all that healthy for the bear, either.