Hot answers tagged

33

There are very few things in the world that aren't beneficial to some lifeform. Even if you were to, say, spill a mixture of persistent broad-spectrum poisons on an area that killed off 99.9% of all species there, the remaining 0.1% that did survive would benefit from the lack of competition. The "great garbage patch" is hardly so extreme a phenomenon, but ...


29

I'll focus on whales and dolphins (cetaceans) as you mention them by name and they are representative for other marine mammals such as seals or manatees. The evolution of cetaceans was one of the fascinating evolutionary mysteries. Clearly, they were mammals, but which mammals were their closest relatives? Clues to solve this mystery began to appear in the ...


13

In the case of whales, I always thought that it was something to do with the fact that they rely upon buoyancy to support their weight and this seems to support that view: When whales, including small whales or dolphins become stranded on beaches they suffer from the pressure of their own weight on their organs,in the water they are weightless. They ...


13

While fish tend to move from side to side (lateral undulation) for which a vertical tail makes sense, the land ancestors of marine mammals had their limbs under them and so their spines were already adapted to up and down movement (dorsoventral undulation). When these animals moved to marine environments, they continued up and down movement in their ...


11

Cetaceans (i.e., marine mammals) evolved from certain ancient land based mammals, thus the tail is essentially convergent evolution of the tail function.


10

Short answer Large animals do get cancer. They may contract cancer with an incidence less than that estimated by absolute cell numbers, but there seems to be a lack of data on cancer rates in large animals to support this hypothesis conclusively. Background Whales contract cancer (Martineau et al, 2002). There does, however, seem to be a lack of correlation ...


9

The link you give doesn't mention limbs sticking out of the body wall, but only vestigial hind limb elements. Many whales do retain pelves and femora, as this page at the Bergen Museum shows. Given the variation in limb development across vertebrates, it would not be surprising to find more distal elements (but I would be very surprised if they extended past ...


8

Here there are spectrograms from Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Killer whales (Orcinus orca) and False killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens). Here there are spectrograms for Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) and from Sperm whales (Physeter catodon or Physeter marcocephalus) Here there are spectrograms from Blue whale, Fin whale and Minke ...


8

There is a reason for prevalent usage of log2 and log10 compared to loge in biology and other experimental sciences. Usually while doing measurements we are generally interested in fold changes and we generally talk in the sense of two-fold (or multiples of two) or ten-fold. Doubling is a common phenomenon at least in case of growth and so a two-fold change ...


7

How did they evolve from their original form to their superficially ichthyoid appearance today? This is an example of convergent evolution. Fish appear as they do (streamlined body shape, wide tail, fins, etc.) since these are adaptations to the underwater environment they're living and evolving in. These features are only "ichthyoid" or "fishy" because ...


6

Dolphins can hear above 110 kHz, and produce vocalizations in this range. Clicking has evolved in proposes and sperm whales and is predominantly above 100 kHz (to avoid being heard by killer whales). It's a bit subjective, of course: if you do a frequency decomposition of a click, it will always have some component with very high frequency. That dolphins ...


6

I think I got the answer.... The primary anatomical adaptations for pressure of a deep-diving mammal such as the sperm whale center on air-containing spaces and the prevention of tissue barotrauma. Air cavities, when present, are lined with venous plexuses, which are thought to fill at depth, obliterate the air space, and prevent "the squeeze." The lungs ...


6

Sea anemones are members of the phylum of Cnidaria. Distinguishing features of this phylum are radial symmetry and the presence of cnidocytes, or stinging cells (like the ones found in jelly fish). These cells have a mechanical trigger and if activated a subcellular harpoon is fired and paralyzing and painful toxin is injected. A cnidocyte diagram is shown ...


6

Check out the excellent Wikimedia picture of the carbon cycle: All the numbers are in billions of tons of carbon: white = stored, yellow = natural flux, red = human contribution. Notice that the deep ocean stores much more accessible carbon than any other carbon cycle source, and is only surpassed by the lithosphere* in overall quantity of carbon stored ...


6

This is the Sarcastic fringehead fish (Neoclinus blanchardi). [Source2]


5

Viruses hijack the hosts translational machinery, forcing the host to downregulate translation of other proteins in favor of viral proteins. Your cells will eventually lyse, but in the meantime they would not be producing the enzymes required to make whatever product it is you're trying to get, likely resulting in low yields that are contaminated with virus. ...


5

This is the one I've heard of - Its a sealed acrylic globe that contains algae and brine shrimp. There are quite a few references in the bibliography here to previous systems. Of course, it needs sunlight, but all the elements are recycled. Its really closed and has reasonable endurance. The basic commercial version of his closed world -- sold under ...


5

How about marine reptiles? Sea snakes have a paddle-like tail, so perhaps you would claim that as a fin, but maybe marine iguanas would qualify? And, of course, sea turtles.


5

Mollusk shells found on typical east coast (US) beaches can range from days old (the animal that made the shell died recently) to thousands of years old. Some shells in our state, North Carolina, have been dated as 40,000 years old. A high number of "seashells" found on east coast beaches are from mollusks that lived in the marsh on the back side of the ...


5

The various species of nautilus use a combination of active transport of salts and passive diffusion of water for buoyancy (Denton and Gilpin-Brown 1966, Ward 1979, Greenwald et al. 1980). The chambers are filled with seawater. Salts from the seawater in the chambers is removed by a structure called the siphuncular epithelium. This process makes the ...


5

While Ilan's answer has already covered the identification, here are a couple of other techniques which can be used to identify such animals in the future (or at least narrow down the scope of possibilities): 1: The upper left hand corner of the image depicts a fin which has multiple bony protrusions. This is an identifying feature of the Actinopterygii, ...


5

It's hard to identify from the photos provided, but I think it is Chloeia flava (a species of polycaete worm, within the phylum Annelida), also known in English as the "Golden Fireworm". The size is roughly similar to what you describe (they are typically about 7-10 cm long). The individual you observed looks like it lives in sandy bottom environments (not a ...


4

Asterosaponins are the class of compounds - they have a cholesterol like organic core. Apparently, these saponins make pore-forming complexes with Δ5-sterols of cell membranes, and so are deadly to all usual kind of life, including bacteria and fungi. Quote: Starfish and sea cucumber cell membranes are resistant to their own saponines due to the ...


4

The mechanisms of osmoregulation is different for sharks (and other elasmobranch fishes) and teleost fishes. In Elasmobranchs the body osmolarity is maintained equal to the seawater by Na⁺ Cl⁻ and urea. Toxicity because of high concentrations of urea (strong chaotrope) is counteracted by high levels of trimethylamine oxide (TMAO). So, the elasmobranchs do ...


4

I'm not sure that all phytoplankton perform the same type of photosynthesis. Originally, people thought that they all performed C4, on the basis of genome sequencing, which revealed the presence of genes important for C4 photosynthesis. However, experiments on individual species seemed to indicate that the phytoplankton were performing multiple types of ...


4

There is a number of reported cases of marine species reaching new locations through "hitchhiking" in recent times. However, it seems harder to find reports of species actually becoming established in a new location through this. The following articles describe examples of species transported with ocean debris: In an early study on the dispersal of ...


4

I concur with @souvik.bhattacharya but I wish to elaborate on it. The lung collapse indeed stops gas exchange in marine mammals by keeping the air away from the lung tissue that normally exchanges O2, CO2 and N2. Build up of N2 results in the bends after the pressure drops when re-surfacing (McDonald & Ponganis, 2012). However, a study by Hooker et al. ...


4

Many species of Eel (order Anguilliformes) have a semelparous life history (most species? all?), i.e. they only reproduce once and then die (as opposed to an iteroparous life history). Many species are now threatened by extinction (e.g. American eel and European eel), since they have been heavily exploited by fisheries and they are also vulnerable to habitat ...


3

This advice is America-centric; graduate programs in other countries may be different, especially in regards to assigned course work, etc. But this should more-or-less be solid. Also, I'm assuming you're interested in a PhD. I don't know if what you're looking for is a proper field, but that doesn't matter. Ideally, grad school is where you do research on ...


3

This article by R. Aiden Martin doesn't have citations, but is a great read with a lot of detail on observations and mechanics of animals moving in water. If you trust the numbers the author gives, the top 10 marine mammals in terms of speed are: Dall's Porpoise (Phocaenoides dalli), leaping 34.5 Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) 34.5 Shortfin ...



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