Mammals, fish, reptiles, invertebrates, bacteria. Some can live in outer space, others can live only inside you. Animal navigators; animals with empathy, language and culture; cute and adorable animals; microscopic animals; monsters from the deep, monsters from the past.


The Great Egg Strategy

Animals, 14 March 2020
Stink bug eggs

William Harvey (1578-1657) said "Every living animal comes from an egg".

Harvey didn't know about micro-organisms, because bacteria were not discovered until 1676 and protozoa even later than that. He was basically correct, though. Anything much larger than a bacterium starts life as an egg.

If you're a bacterium, reproduction is easy. You get a bit bigger, and then you divide in two (fission). Fission takes almost no energy, you can do it on your own, and it produces an adult.



Rescuing stranded dolphins

Animals, 20 February 2020
Stranded dolphin

stranded (adj.): unable to go home.

Whales, dolphins and porpoises sometimes get stranded while they're still alive. You can't really help a 30-tonne whale, but it's often possible to help a healthy dolphin (150-300kg) or a porpoise (80kg) get back to sea.

Cetaceans have always stranded on beaches. There are records of this from Aristotle in 340 BC. They strand individually and in groups ("mass strandings"). There are many reasons for stranding, from a healthy dolphin chasing fish ...



Day of the Dormouse

Animals, 11 April 2019
Hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius)


Dormice are nature's professional sleepers. A sleeping dormouse doesn't wake up for anything, not even if someone picks it up.

The name comes from the Latin word "dormire", to sleep. But on warm nights, they're the acrobats of the trees. They're good climbers that can go straight up a tree trunk or a stone wall.