Category Archives: Animals

June 03

Axolotls: First Ones to the Fountain of Youth

Introduction If you look at today’s $50 Mexican peso (left), you won’t see the image of a past president or monument. Instead, you’ll see a lone salamander with outstretched arms and gills in the middle of a lake. For centuries, this small creature, known as the axolotl (ax-oh-lot-al), was well known to the people that […]

January 27

Genetics of Sasquatch: making cryptozoology scientific?

Growing up in Oregon meant I spent lots of time hearing about Sasquatch. Now working in a lab studying monkeys, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how different primates are related. While it is undeniable that little evidence has been found to prove Bigfoot roams the wild forests of the Pacific Northwest, perhaps […]

May 20

Magnetoreception – a Quantum Sixth Sense

Imagine you are dropped off hundreds of miles away from your home, deep in some unknown  forest. Would you be able to find your way home using only your five basic senses – sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch? If you’re anything like me, you may struggle to navigate around your own city without help […]

March 25

Singing in the Brain: Bird Neuroscience

Many of us have adopted new hobbies or interests in this strange quarantine world. For me, I’ve started to really appreciate birds. Birds and birdsong are almost omnipresent and for those of us living in more developed areas, they are oftentimes one of our only real reminders of and connections to the natural world. So, […]

March 18

Join Dennis Eckmeier on an expedition from neuroscience to science communication

Today I invite you to join me on an expedition with Dr. Dennis Eckmeier through the academic jungle to the realms of science communication. You will learn about the courtship calls of Chinese fire-bellied toads, a blowfly flight simulator, the vision of zebra finches (yes, finches, not fish!), and how the memory of smell might […]

January 14

Do pets understand our language?

Humans are unique in our use of sophisticated spoken language to communicate. While other animals use communicative calls and sounds, human language features complex grammar and structure that allows us to convey a nearly infinite number of ideas. Homo sapiens, the species name for modern humans, appears to have been far superior to other hominid […]

December 17

The Big Sleep: How We Hibernate

As December deepens, we rapidly find ourselves coming up on the first day of winter. Though winter officially begins on the 21st, many animals began their preparations for the season far earlier this year. Any birdwatcher could easily tell you that most birds migrated south a long while ago, and any hiker could tell you […]

June 18

Left over right: Communicative auditory processing from mice to men

The terms “left” and “right”, if not used to give directions, are often evoked to describe a preference. You might prefer to kick with your right leg, or throw with your right arm, or lead with your right foot on your skateboard or surfboard. Political convictions often lean left or right. And then there’s handedness, […]

May 07

Like reality TV? You might be a neuroscientist

Imagine … a lush, tropical island with carefully controlled temperature and humidity, where the lights come on and off at regular intervals, where its inhabitants consume dinner in unison from predetermined food sources….   Believe it or not, this paradise exists!  It’s called Love Island.  And for the many millions of viewers that tune into Love […]

April 23

I Can See it in Your Face: Facial Expressions in Mice

How do you know what an animal is feeling? Unfortunately, you can’t ask a dog, mouse, or fly how they are feeling or what they are thinking. This is one of the chief problems in animal research – we just don’t have ready access to their internal thoughts and feelings. This inability to access the […]