Today during my Ancient Philosophy class, I became fixated on this fly that was lingering on the vertical side of a table; perpendicular to the ground. Over banter on Plato's Republic, my brain began to postulate reasons that could explain the gravity-defying phenomenon I was witnessing. Immediately after class I researched this conundrum and found myself reading a plethora of articles about different biological phenomenons. Now maybe this is because I am a biology major, but I found it not only informative but also extremely exciting to learn the empirical reasoning behind commonly witnessed enigmas. In hopes that all reading this find biological explanations equally as interesting, I present to you: 5 fun biological facts.
1. Flies & Gravity
I thought I would start off by explaining how flies and other small insects defy gravity. These insects possess tarsi, or segments, have tiny hairs that secrete oils, allowing them to adhere to glass and other surfaces and even allow these insects to walk along the ceiling! (more info: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-do-...)
This next fact I learned in my Animal-Behavior class last semester (s/o Dr. Sirot). I would assume most people believe that all organisms are born a certain sex (including hermaphrodite) and that is the end of that. However, clownfish have simply obliterated that thought. Clownfish demonstrate sequential hermphroditism, where the fish start out as males and can develop female organs (it can be reversed for other species). The species have only two large, reproductive individuals (one male, one female) and the rest are all smaller male fish. The most ridiculous fact occurs when the reproductive female leaves. This results in the reproductive male physically changing into the female and the next largest male takes on the reproductive male role. This information makes Finding Nemo a little more interesting doesn’t it? (more info: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/fishtree_07)
3. Plants and Music
Plant-growth can be altered depending on what music is being played. I haven’t found too many research articles that explain the science behind this one but basically the vibrations and sound waves have a significant impact on the growth of plants. For example, loud, hard rock music is detrimental to plants, while violins and classical music in general stimulates plant growth. (more info: http://search.proquest.com/openview/e352df12538c80831f13ad6a4483c9df/1?pq-origsite=gscholar )
4. Female Praying Mantis
Female praying mantis are cannibals. For certain species of mantis, the females demonstrate post coital cannibalism, which is quite unfortunate for their male counterparts. When the females mate with males they wait until mating is about over and then attack the male, usually eating them head first. Not only are the males then headless, but, since insects can live a relatively long time without their heads, the male continues mating with the female while fully decapitated. If you would like to watch this graphic exchange: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imOTCERhLp0 .
5. Spiders and Cannibalism
This final fact is yet another form of sexual cannibalism. A world with both cannibal spiders, mantis, AND Donald Trump?! Tis a scary time to be alive folks. Anyway, in many different spider species, male spiders will actually sacrifice their lives following copulation and submit to being eaten. The evolutionary explanation for this heinous act is that the male wants his offspring to be as healthy as possible so he provides his offspring nutrients by allowing the female to consume him after copulation. And I thought my love-life was a struggle… (more info: http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2013/06/19/male-spiders-self-sacrifice-lose-genitals/ )
I hope you all enjoyed these somewhat disturbing but interesting biological facts! If you are a student at the College of Wooster and were intrigued by this article I would highly recommend taking Animal Behavior with Dr. Sirot! I learned a lot of these facts in that class and learned why these types of behavior occur from an evolutionary standpoint. Now go out and observe the incredibly weird but awesome world around you! And the next time you see a fly walking on glass you’ll know why.