Friday, September 9, 2016

Target's Animal Skeletons:Anatomical Review

Since 2015, Target has sold various plastic models (designed for decoration) of many creatures, including cats, dogs, alligators, fish, geckoes, and even spiders and scorpions. Yes, you heard me right. They have spider and scorpion skeletons. Here are some images.
Why, Target, why? Spiders don't even have skeletons. THEY'RE INVERTEBRATES, for crying out loud!
Anyway, in this Anatomical Review, we selected the alligator skull and bony fish skeleton because we could say that it's somewhat related to this year's aquatic biology focus since fish are aquatic and alligators are reptiles that prefer to be in water. Anyway, here is a review of how accurate these skeletons are. As in, which bones are in there? Are they in the right spots? Here we are.

Alligator Skull
Reference source from Emporia College. Alligator Skull - Vertebrate Structure and Development. http://academic.emporia.edu/sievertl/verstruc/ALLSKULL.HTM. Web. September 9th, 2016.

Let's start with dorsal view, shall we?

Basing it off of Emporia College's beautifully labeled photo of an alligator skull, we were surprised to find that all the bones were there and at least close to being in the right spots. It tested up to our source. Now, for the ventral view.

I think we see a fairly obvious problem here. Sure, at least some of the bones are there, but THE INSIDE IS HOLLOW. We assume this to be for the purpose of it being a fairly good, lightweight decoration and meaning that it can be exposed to water without fear of mold getting inside. But it's still a shocking inaccuracy that wasn't entirely necessary for the product to do what it's designed to do.

The jaw contains the bones that were mentioned and the arrangement and placement of the teeth in the alligator skull is up to par. The bones are there and in the proper place. Overall, aside from the hollow interior, Target's alligator skull is a good decoration and rather spooky for Halloween, but is also fairly accurate in its crocodilian anatomy. 4/5 stars to this! ★★★★ (I looked up how to do a Unicode star.)

Fish Skeleton
Reference Source from Moor Park College. CLASS OSTEICHTHYES - Jawed with bony skeleton - 96% of all fishes. http://sunny.moorparkcollege.edu/~econnolly/Fishesbony.htm. Web. September 9th, 2016.

Most of the bones may be there, but there's one huge and very, very noticeable problem. For purposes of stability of the model and having something for the fins to be going off of, the fish has two spinal cords, one on the top and one on the bottom. This is horribly inaccurate, although it may be necessary for the model. You might want to accuse me of overreacting because it's designed to be a spooky plastic Halloween decoration, but in case you haven't noticed, with toy bugs, models, and all sorts of stuff, a good part of this blog is scientifically overreacting to trivial stuff not designed to be taken seriously. However, the top vertebra is accurate with the ribs going off of it. The jaw is accurate. In general, everything is rather good and well except for the second spinal cord. To this one, I give 3.5 out of a possible 5 Unicode stars.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Aquatic Biology:Snails

General Information about Snails
Snails or gastropods are small to medium sized mollusks that can be found on every continent on Earth except Antartica in almost any wet habitat, especially those with a lot of vegetation. Snails are famous and easily recognized due to their hard, coiled shells. If a snail doesn't have a shell, then it's a slug. Snails are usually herbivorous and eat vegetation like leaves, stems, and algae. Some larger snails are omnivores or carnivores. Snails are easy prey for any animal that can get through the shell, since they're small and slow. As a result of this, snails are eaten by rodents, birds, amphibians, and fish. Snails are hermaphrodites and are neither male nor female and can breed with any other snail of the same species. About a month after mating, one of the snails lays small eggs, which hatch after a few weeks. Baby snails become adults in up to two years. Unfortunately, in some areas, snails are suffering due to pollution, habitat loss, or changes in the food chain. Since this post focuses on aquatic snails, we'll shift our focus to them. Aquatic snails, like their name sounds like, are found in almost any wet environment, in many cases in water. These habitats include ponds, lakes, swamps, ditches, ponds, springs, and slow rivers. Substrates include rocks, sand, mud, vegetation, and decomposing plant matter. There are usually more snails in hard water which contains large amounts of minerals because snails require calcium carbonate to form their shells. Snails usually aren't found in acidic water like bogs, cold water like high mountain streams, or really any water that gets above 30 degrees Celsius. Some species of aquatic snails migrate to better habitats on the basis of temperature. All snails, including aquatic snails, glide on their substrate on a film of mucus that their feet secrete. Aquatic snails rely on oxygen within the water to breathe or periodically come to the surface to breathe. Most aquatic snails feed on algae and other aquatic vegetation or decomposing animal or plant matter.

I did a sketch of the anatomy of a land snail based off of this model.














Voshell, Reese. A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America. The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, 2002. Print.