Scientia eruditus veritatem indagas (seek truth through science)
Victorian Microscope Slides has an amazing collection of microscope slides and samples from 1830-1900. That’s when commercial manufacture began, thanks to a few entrepreneurial souls. The paper covers were originally a practical concern, a way to fasten the mica over the sample to the slide. But even after other methods of mounting became available, the paper covers remained as a means of self-expression.
I’m not sure how many followers are here for my opinion or because I reblog pretty pictures, but I’d like to try and make this blog feel slightly more personal.
Through an amazing stroke of luck, I am now volunteering time in the Dino Lab at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. I’ve only been in there for two weeks, but I’ve been volunteering in the museum on the floor (presentations) for about 7 months.
With this in mind, I’d like to start writing about my experiences at the museum: the people I meet, the specimens I work on, the events at the museum, etc. I’ll still reblog scientific whatnot, so no worries party people.
So, what do you think? Should I keep reblogging or do you wanna hear about the coolest place ever?
We will meet. We will laugh. We will gaze. We will recoil. We will grow brave. We will play. We will be passionate. We will doubt. We will fight. We will reminisce. We will grow stronger. We will love.
The chicks of the hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) are notable for possessing a pair of claws on each hand which enable them to employ a unique method of escaping predators; they drop into the water, swim to safety, and use the claws to clamber back up onto dry land. As you can see from the video, this also means that accidentally plopping into the water is no big deal (provided the chick climbs out before an aquatic predator snacks on it, natch). The claws disappear as the young birds approach adulthood.
[Image: The prominently-clawed hand of a hoatzin embryo (top) compared with the hand of an adult. Source.]
So why do hoatzins start out with wing claws even though most other modern birds lack them? Presumably, the instructions for making wing claws still lie dormant within any given clawless bird’s genome, a holdover from their non-avian dinosaur ancestors. At some point in the hoatzin’s evolutionary history, a mutation may have caused these genes to be expressed once more. Evolutionary throwbacks like this one are referred to as atavisms and have been observed in a variety of organisms, including humans. (Another avian example: chicken teeth!)