Spend a quiet two minutes watching a woodlouse (aka pill bug, roly poly, cheeselog, armadillo bug, boat builder, slater, sow bug, roll up bug…) flip over from its back. Known for curling up into a protective ball, this “bug” has a lot of regional nicknames, but is it actually a bug? From a-z-animals:
The woodlouse is not an insect but a crustacean that has 14 parts to its body, which gives the woodlouse the flexibility to be able to curl into a ball to protect itself from danger. This means that only the hard outer shell of the woodlouse is exposed.
The woodlouse is found in dark, damp places in forests and jungles throughout the world. The woodlouse feeds on decaying leaf and plant matter on the forest floor, meaning that the woodlouse plays a vital role in the natural carbon dioxide cycle.
The woodlouse is generally about 1 cm long but many species in the tropics are triple that size, some are even bigger. The woodlouse has an average lifespan of around 2 years but some are known to get up to 4 years old.
Related watching: crabs!
This amphibious fish is called a mudskipper and it uses its pectoral fins to walk on land, specifically mud. It also rolls, jumps, digs, excavates, socializes, fights for territory, and breathes air while not being in the water. Watch this amazing clip from the David Attenborough-narrated BBC Life series, episode 04: Fish.
Related watching from the same episode, two weedy seadragons dance into the night, and from Sci-news, a walking bamboo shark.
This incredible animation by Flora Lichtman and Sharon Shattuck chronicles the story of British naturalist, anthropologist, biologist, geographer, and intrepid adventurer Alfred Russel Wallace, who was also Charles Darwin's lesser-known partner on the joint presentation On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection. From Smithsonian Mag:
It was during fits of malaria that Wallace started to come up with the idea of natural selection. He sent his manuscript to Darwin, who puts together a set of notes to be presented alongside Wallace’s. When the Linnean Society of London hears the case for natural selection in 1858, Wallace and Darwin share the credit.
So what happened? Why do we remember Darwin and not Wallace? Well, for one, when Darwin published On the Origin of Species, he barely mentions Wallace at all. And Wallace doesn’t complain. In fact, he loves the book. And with that, he fades away.
Though we doubt the story was quite that simple. Read more about the differences of their ideas, see more of Wallace’s Collection (like these) at London’s Natural History Museum, and check out another of his contributions: the Wallace Line.
Related watching: TED Ed’s Five Fingers of Evolution and How Mendel’s pea plants helped us understand genetics, and previously from Lichtman and Shattuck, a favorite: Whale Fall (After Life of a Whale).
via sagan sense.