Stories tagged aquarium

Named the Kuroshio Sea, this enormous tank at the Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa, Japan is over 30 feet deep, 110 feet wide, and nearly 90 feet long. It holds more than 8000 tons of water, equal to about three Olympic-sized swimming pools. Eighty local species of fish are on display here including manta rays, and the world's largest fish, the whale shark.

You have to admit, this is some of the best reality television you've seen lately.

Have scientists finally found a Rock n' Roll gene? Not really, but researchers have made some interesting discoveries about the genetic basis of birdsongs, which are passed down from generation to generation through social interaction much in the same way that you or I learn to talk, sing, dance, cook or create. When the authors of a new study on the transmission of birdsong behaviors in zebra finches isolated and raised birds in silence, they expected them to sing off-key. While the mating songs of these 'untrained' birds were much less appealing to the opposite sex, after several generations the untrained lineage produced offspring that were able to sing just like those in the wild. You can listen to the experiment here. This news has left researchers wondering where birdsongs originally began, and to what extent cultural behaviors are hard wired. While zebra finches and humans are only very distant relatives, researchers think we may be able to learn about human culture and genetics from studies like these. After all, as the authors point out, our human cultures (including language, music and a whole host of other things) are very different, but they all share common elements across the globe. In the end, these cultural underpinnings may turn out to be part of our biology.

Jun
20
2007

Eyed up: A handler recently displayed the newly hatched Beal's four-eyed turtle at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. There are only 18 known Beal's four-eyes in captivity. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee Aquarium)
Eyed up: A handler recently displayed the newly hatched Beal's four-eyed turtle at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. There are only 18 known Beal's four-eyes in captivity. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee Aquarium)
I’ve lived most of my life with glasses, but thankfully have never been called “four eyes” before. It must be a termed used solely in comic books and bad movies.

But the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is quite proud of its new four eyes, a rare Beal’s four-eyed turtle, which recently hatched. Don’t get all panicky, it is not some genetic mutant freak turtle. It only has two actual eyes, but also two white spots on the top of its head that look like another set of eyes.

It is now one of only 18 four-eyers known to be in captivity in the U.S. and Europe. Years ago, the species were fairly common in the wild in China but its population numbers have dropped due to low reproduction rates.

I never knew such a rare turtle existed. But now I’m thinking –- here at the Science Museum of Minnesota, we have a pair of preserved two-headed turtles on display in our collections gallery. Aren’t they the “real” four-eyed turtles?