Category Archives: Biology

D Is for DNA

This post is coming a day late. I hope that’s not a problem with the rules of the A to Z Challenge! You see, I have some foreign DNA in my body. The common cold. I was too tired to get the video and post up last night. But here it is now! For the letter D, I’m talking about DNA. How many of these facts did you know?

And here are the facts:

  1. DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid.
  2. A DNA molecule is made up of two bipolymer strands wrapped around each other to form a double helix.
  3. There are four nucleobases represented by the letters C, G, A, and T. They are cytosine, guanine, adenine, and thymine.
  4. Nucleobases pair up, A with T and C with G to connect the two DNA strands to form the double helix.
  5. Only 2% of human DNA codes protein sequences. The remaining 98% have other various functions, which would require another full video to talk about.
  6. The species with the largest number of chromosomes is the ciliated protozoa with 29,640,000.
  7. The species with the fewest number of chromosomes is the jack jumper ant with only 2. But that’s for the females. Males are haploid and have only 1, the smallest number possible.
  8. Humans have 46 chromosomes, but other great apes, including chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, have 48.
  9. More than 8% of the human genome is made up of retrovirus sequences.
  10. There is a 4% difference in the genomes of humans and our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos.

Let me know in the comments section below what you knew.

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C Is for Canada Goose

What other bird says “Canada” to you? Maybe the loon? Well, how about the Canada goose? For the letter C, I am talking about the Canada goose! Check out the video, which includes some bonus video of a v-formation I managed to catch.

And here are the facts. How many did you know?

  1. This large goose is native to the arctic and temperature regions of North America.
  2. It’s been introduced to other parts of the world, including the UK, New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile.
  3. They are extremely successful at adapting to human habitation, so they are a very common bird around cities and towns, now having a population of between 4 and 5 million.
  4. There are 7 subspecies of Canada goose.
  5. They range from 75 to 120 cm in length and have a wingspan of between 127 and 185 cm.
  6. In most bird species, sexual dimorphism is apparent in the differences between male and female bird appearance, but the male and female Canada goose are virtually identical, except for a small difference in weight. Females are smaller.
  7. They spend their summers throughout Canada and the northern United States, but breed in the southern US and northern Mexico.
  8. Canada geese eat mainly plants, but have been known to eat insects and fish. And sometimes they scavenge from garbage cans.
  9. They fly in a v-formation at around 1 km in altitude, but have been known to fly as high as 9 km.
  10. Canada geese are monogamous, mating for life. If one dies, then they can find another mate. They’re very faithful birds.

Let me know in the comments below which facts you didn’t know about or were the most surprised about.

B Is for Bees

The A to Z Challenge continues with the letter B! This time, I talk about bees. It’s springtime, so insects are now coming out. Bees are a very important part of our environment, since they pollinate flowers, and help us grow our plant crops. So, let’s take a look at the video.

Here are the facts, which I mentioned in the video.

  1. There are around 20,000 known species of bee.
  2. The smallest bees are stingless bees that are only 2 mm in length.
  3. The largest bees are the Wallace’s giant bee, a kind of leafcutter bee that grows to 39 mm in length.
  4. Although collection of honey by humans dates back 15,000 years, beekeeping didn’t begin until 4,500 years ago in ancient Egypt.
  5. A bee’s mouthparts are adapted to both chew and suck, having both mandibles and a proboscis.
  6. The explosion of flowering plants 120 million years ago did not coincide with the appearance of bees, which have been around for 100 million years ago, evolving from a type of wasp.
  7. A third of our food supply depends on pollinators, most of which are bees.
  8. Honey isn’t the only thing humans eat. In some countries, the larvae are also eaten.
  9. The decline in bees has been a major worry in recent years, and has been linked to various problems such as pesticides, loss of habitat, and climate change.
  10. It was once said that a bumblebee’s flight was impossible. We now know that the short wing strokes, rotation of the wings, and rapid wing-beats result in sufficient lift. They’re not impossible fliers anymore.

Coming up tomorrow is the letter C. It’s going to be another biological topic. Check back tomorrow!

Don’t Get Too Close to a Goose

You know all those videos of people who get too close to a goose or swan, and then get chased? Well, I got pretty close to a goose. Watch.

Thankfully, the goose was fairly comfortable with people around, since this is a public park. I don’t recommend doing this, especially if you have poor reflexes or bad judgment. I approached it very slowly and never intended on touching it. I’m not that crazy!

With the recent news about the people in Yellowstone who approached a bison calf that had to be euthanised, it’s very important to tell people not to touch or approach wild animals. The goose I approached is around people all the time, and it was very unlikely I was in any danger. And I would never try to touch a wild bird.

Do you have any funny stories involving wild animals? Let me know in the comments below.

Got an Itch for Birdwatching

Ever since coming back to Canada, I’ve been watching the birds whenever we’ve gone out. My wife has been taking pictures, I’ve been listening to the birds. I’d like to find my field guide to birds of western North America and start birdwatching.

This is going to be a bit bigger than just finding the birds. I plan on taking pictures and posting them, but not on here. I’m going to start a separate blog for birds of Alberta (and more). I’ll just keep taking pictures and posting them, even if they’re birds I’ve taken pictures of before. I may take a very good picture that has to be shared. On that blog, I’m going to keep a checklist of the birds I’ve seen, and update whenever I find a new bird.

So, in addition to this blog, I’ll have the bird blog and an Edmonton Asian and burger restaurant blog.

What do you think?