Thursday, February 23, 2012

Springtails in a Mud Puddle - Collembola

A couple of weeks ago my father, a farmer who shares an interest in biology with me, told me that he had seen a bunch of springtails in the ditches around the fields on our farm. When I got free one afternoon, I went down with my camera to see for myself. I stopped at a large puddle of water in the middle of a gravel road after a big rain. This is what I saw. Click the pics to enlarge.

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If I hadn't been prepared, I would have thought it was just a puddle with some light debris around the edge, but a closer look revealed the prize I was searching for, an abundance of springtails.

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Springtails are hexapods that were previously considered by most to be insects that have now been reclassified by many as having a separate lineage from the insects. Springtails (Collembola) have been classified as an order within the class insecta, or as a subclass of Entognatha alongside insects in the subphylum hexapoda, or if considered to be a basal lineage of hexapoda then they are elevated to a class.

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Springtails are small, usually less than 6mm, with these shown being 1-2 mm and are very abundant. Many species are known to be agricultural pests in some cases but beneficial in others.

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The name springtail is derived from their spring-like abdominal appendage, the furcula, which is tucked underneath the body and held in place by small appendage called a tenaculum (or retinaculum). When threatened, the springtail rapidly and forcefully extends the appendage, forcing it into the air making it very difficult to catch for closer observation or as a quick meal. Shown below is a video I made of these tiny creatures using my iPhone 4S and olloclip macro lens(both are awesome). You can see the tails extending rapidly, but even under my microscope, I haven't clearly identified the tenaculum which is supposed to hold the furcula in place while tucked under the body. **these creatures had not been harmed or injured when I made this video, they just could not handle the smooth texture of the surface on which they were placed. I quickly released them back to nature after the video was made.** Sources Wikipedia - Springtail and

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI Predictions

I have never been much of a New York Giants fan, and I have doubted them all the way to the conference championship this year. However, it now looks like time for me to give credit where credit is due. I think that NY has too much momentum at this point for New England to stop them. I couldn't really believe that Eli Manning was that great after their terrific upset of NE in Super Bowl XLII, but now I will say that he ranks among the best. Now on to the game prediction. I don't have much personal interest in these teams but I am looking forward to a close and very exciting game. The current line is Patriots winning by 3. I am going to flip that and say that the Giants will win by 3 with a final score of New England 27 - New York 30.

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