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Radula of Buccinum undatum, common whelk
Gastropods like this marine snail use their radula, a rake-like feeding organ, to scrape food from surfaces. Marine snails, however, are extremely sensitive to tributyltin (TBT), a group of compounds used to prevent marine organisms from accumulating on surfaces. Just trace amounts of TBT leached into sea water causes marine snails to suffer from imposex, a disorder where females develop male sexual characteristics. This shortens snail lifespan and results in infertility or death. Not only is TBT a threat to marine snail populations, but it also can biomagnify up the snail’s food web, causing concentrations of TBT to rise exponentially higher up the food chain.
Image by Dr. David Maitland.

Radula of Buccinum undatum, common whelk

Gastropods like this marine snail use their radula, a rake-like feeding organ, to scrape food from surfaces. Marine snails, however, are extremely sensitive to tributyltin (TBT), a group of compounds used to prevent marine organisms from accumulating on surfaces. Just trace amounts of TBT leached into sea water causes marine snails to suffer from imposex, a disorder where females develop male sexual characteristics. This shortens snail lifespan and results in infertility or death. Not only is TBT a threat to marine snail populations, but it also can biomagnify up the snail’s food web, causing concentrations of TBT to rise exponentially higher up the food chain.

Image by Dr. David Maitland.

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Crystallized tartrazine
Also known as FD&C Yellow 5 or E102, tartrazine is a yellow dye commonly used in processed goods like ice cream, soft drinks, moisturizers, pet foods, and crayons. Of all azo dyes, tartrazine frequently causes allergic and intolerant reactions, though the mechanism of sensitivity is not clear. While conflicting studies have been published regarding its role in promoting hyperactive behaviors in children, tartrazine is being voluntarily phased out in many countries in Europe. In the United States, foods or drugs containing tartrazine must declare the chemical on their ingredients list; the Food and Drug Administration frequently seizes imported products containing undeclared tartrazine.
Image by Frederic Labaune.

Crystallized tartrazine

Also known as FD&C Yellow 5 or E102, tartrazine is a yellow dye commonly used in processed goods like ice cream, soft drinks, moisturizers, pet foods, and crayons. Of all azo dyes, tartrazine frequently causes allergic and intolerant reactions, though the mechanism of sensitivity is not clear. While conflicting studies have been published regarding its role in promoting hyperactive behaviors in children, tartrazine is being voluntarily phased out in many countries in Europe. In the United States, foods or drugs containing tartrazine must declare the chemical on their ingredients list; the Food and Drug Administration frequently seizes imported products containing undeclared tartrazine.

Image by Frederic Labaune.

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Plant cells? Algae? Coral? Were you right?
Surprisingly, these are leaf cells from a genetically engineered tobacco plant made to produce fluorescent proteins. Each squiggle shape is an individual plant cell with glowing proteins localizing to the cell periphery. Tobacco was the first genetically modified plant ever to be produced back in 1982, where DNA was altered so the plant became resistant to antibiotics. This was the first stepping stone for the production of all genetically modified crops today, a topic of intense debate in biology, economics, ethics, and government.
Image by Sebastian Konrad, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany.

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Plant cells? Algae? Coral? Were you right?

Surprisingly, these are leaf cells from a genetically engineered tobacco plant made to produce fluorescent proteins. Each squiggle shape is an individual plant cell with glowing proteins localizing to the cell periphery. Tobacco was the first genetically modified plant ever to be produced back in 1982, where DNA was altered so the plant became resistant to antibiotics. This was the first stepping stone for the production of all genetically modified crops today, a topic of intense debate in biology, economics, ethics, and government.

Image by Sebastian Konrad, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany.

118 notes
This is a user submitted image!
A peacock feather at 50-times magnification
Feathers in birds and their ancient ancestors serve several purposes, including insulation, flight, and display. As feathers evolved from single barbs to the more complex patterns seen today, their functions became equally nuanced. They trap air to provide excellent heat insulation, possess intricate shapes to enhance lift and reduce drag during flight, and come in a prism of colors due to pressures of sexual selection. Some species of birds also have powder down feathers that produce fine particles that sift through and coat feathers, making them waterproof. Due to human pollution, this powder can be washed away and the waterproofing property lost, waterlogging feathers and causing birds to sink.
Image by Charles Krebs.

A peacock feather at 50-times magnification

Feathers in birds and their ancient ancestors serve several purposes, including insulation, flight, and display. As feathers evolved from single barbs to the more complex patterns seen today, their functions became equally nuanced. They trap air to provide excellent heat insulation, possess intricate shapes to enhance lift and reduce drag during flight, and come in a prism of colors due to pressures of sexual selection. Some species of birds also have powder down feathers that produce fine particles that sift through and coat feathers, making them waterproof. Due to human pollution, this powder can be washed away and the waterproofing property lost, waterlogging feathers and causing birds to sink.

Image by Charles Krebs.

787 notes
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Larva from the peanut worm, Nephasoma pellucidum
Worms from the phylum Sipuncula, commonly known as peanut worms, live in marine habitats and use small tentacles to gather organic debris from the water. First described in 1827 by a French zoologist, a related species was later identified by famed invertebrate zoologist E. Ray Lankester. Lankester dissected the new species between rounds of golf in Scotland. In celebration of his golfing holiday, he decided to name the species Golfingia vulgaris, which was later sorted into the Sipuncula phylum.
Image by Dr. Michael Boyle, Smithsonian Institution.

Larva from the peanut worm, Nephasoma pellucidum

Worms from the phylum Sipuncula, commonly known as peanut worms, live in marine habitats and use small tentacles to gather organic debris from the water. First described in 1827 by a French zoologist, a related species was later identified by famed invertebrate zoologist E. Ray Lankester. Lankester dissected the new species between rounds of golf in Scotland. In celebration of his golfing holiday, he decided to name the species Golfingia vulgaris, which was later sorted into the Sipuncula phylum.

Image by Dr. Michael Boyle, Smithsonian Institution.

236 notes
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Match It Monday!
Eggs? Fungus? Fruit? Did you guess it?
These are actually butterfly eggs from Battus philenor, the Pipevine Swallowtail. Larva hatch from eggs and feed on the leaves, stems, and seeds of its host plant Aristolochia fimbriata, commonly known as pipevine. Initially non-toxic, larva convert chemicals found within pipevine into poisonous forms, making them toxic to predators. Many other species of butterflies mimic the Pipevine Swallowtail to fool predators into thinking they, too, are poisonous.
Image by David Millard.

Match It Monday!

Eggs? Fungus? Fruit? Did you guess it?

These are actually butterfly eggs from Battus philenor, the Pipevine Swallowtail. Larva hatch from eggs and feed on the leaves, stems, and seeds of its host plant Aristolochia fimbriata, commonly known as pipevine. Initially non-toxic, larva convert chemicals found within pipevine into poisonous forms, making them toxic to predators. Many other species of butterflies mimic the Pipevine Swallowtail to fool predators into thinking they, too, are poisonous.

Image by David Millard.

126 notes