What do you think of when someone talks about fungi? Often,
mushrooms are the first image to come to mind, or maybe even a corny joke about
being a fun-guy.
While mushrooms are commonly recognized as fungi, the
classification is much larger than you may think! Fungi are distinct due to
their wide variations of size, shape, color, ability to thrive in a range of
environmental conditions, and their many uses in modern day society. Fungi are
the source for many of the medications we use, like penicillin, and even found
in the foods that we eat. The yeast we use for baking bread is a single-celled
fungus, and the mushrooms we encounter on a walk outside are multi-celled
It wasn’t until the
late sixties that fungi gained their own scientific category, separate of
plants. One of the main factors in the new classification was due to the
bacteria’s methods of “feeding”. Rather than basking in the sun to create
chlorophyll, by way of the photosynthetic process, fungi require the nutrition
found in organic matter. This makes their eating habits similar to those of
The Florida Everglades are practically overrun with Burmese pythons. The snake, native to Southeast Asia, isn’t supposed to be in Florida, but thanks to consumers releasing exotic reptiles into the wild, Florida is the world capital for invasive reptiles. The python has been a Florida resident for 30 years now, and it’s perhaps more comfortable there as it is in its native Burma. Florida wildlife officials have discovered a 17-foot-7-inch-long python in the Everglades. The 165-pound snake is the largest ever captured.
“This thing is monstrous, it’s about a foot wide,” said Kenneth Krysko, of the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. ”It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild, there’s nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble. They were here 25 years ago, but in very low numbers and it was difficult to find one because of their cryptic behavior; now, you can go out to the Everglades nearly any day of the week and find a Burmese python. We’ve found 14 in a single day.”
In addition to being amazingly large, the snake was also very, very fertile. Scientists found a staggering 87 eggs inside the snake’s oviducts, meaning that it is both the largest snake ever discovered in the Everglades AND it was carrying the most amount of eggs of any snake ever caught in Florida’s swamps. For those of you that find snakes like this one fascinating, you can discover all about the slithering serpents in our Sssnake Science program! Click here to find a HTHT location in your neighborhood!
The 2012 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) takes place from Friday, February 17 through Monday, February 22. Each year, volunteers across the country tally the birds they see in backyards, parks and natural areas. Last year, GBBC participants racked up more than 11 million observations and identified 596 species! Counting birds during GBBC helps scientists gain a snapshot of how winter bird populations are changing across North America over the years by documenting things like:
Rare sightings: In 2011, a Brown Shrike was spotted in California, far from its home in Asia. A Swainson’s Thrush, which usually winters in Central and South America, was reported in North Carolina.
Population Changes: American Crow numbers fell after being hard hit by West Nile virus in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but recent GBBC data shows that the population may be rebounding. Future data will help scientists determine if the crow population is really recovering.
Spread of Invasive Species: The Eurasian Collared-Dove is an invasive species that was introduced in Florida in the 1980s and has expanded its range ever since. In 1999, the dove’s range covered eight states. In 2011, it had expanded to 40 states, including Alaska – its most northerly reach yet.
Viewer Tip: Collecting all this data would be impossible without the help of thousands of volunteers. Anyone can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count by tallying birds for at least 15 minutes on any day of the count. Simple instructions for counting and reporting birds are available at www.birdsource.org/gbbc/howto.html. You can also find regional bird checklists, photo galleries, resources for kids and more!
The Northern Cardinal and Mourning Dove were the two most frequently reported birds during last year’s count.Click here for high resolution photos for media use in conjunction with reports about the Great Backyard Bird Count.
During a recent Super Science birthday party provided by Biology Brad from High Touch High Tech of the San Francisco Bay Area, birthday boy Joe erupted a volcano that went sky high! The birthday party took place in Concord, CA and the volcano erupted 6 feet high – twice the height of the birthday boy!
“It was great to see the children having such a great time without having to run around like maniacs!! Everyone was raving about you after you left………I think it was nice for the parents to see their kids actually doing something constructive at a party, I am so glad I found your website and booked you up!!! Joe got lots of really good presents today but the only one that has kept his interest all day is the one you gave him, he is fascinated by it and has shown everybody who has come to the house today.” Mrs. Nicola Bell (parent of birthday child).
High Touch High Tech birthday parties provide 75-minutes of non-stop hands-on science fun for the birthday child and friends. All parties consist of hands-on experiments for all children, a science certificate for each child and a fun science gift for the birthday child.