Ashle and Tonya’s Pillbug Lab

In this lab we tested hydrotaxis on pillbugs. Hydrotaxis is the orientation of an organism (pillbug) in relation to the presence of water. Our hypothesis is: The pillbugs will gravitate more towards the water because they are closely related to Bathynomus Gigantus, or also known as the ‘Deep Searoach’ which lives in water. First we chose 11 pillbugs, 10 were close in size while the eleventh one was the size of a baby (we named him Bosco). We placed all eleven in an empty, figure-eight dish for ten minutes, recording the number of pillbugs on each side every minute for general observations. We found that they generally stayed on Side A, they crawl on top of each other, they have a hard time flipping back over, they try to climb up the sides of the figure eight dish, they follow each other, they try to help each other over, Bosco tries to get back on his feet but is having a hard time and rests a while before trying again.
Next we remove the pillbugs, insert a piece of filter paper on Side A. Then we add several drops of water to the filter paper (enough to get the whole piece wet, but not so much it begins to “puddle”). Then we add the pillbugs in the center of the figure-eight dish. We observe them again for ten minutes, recording the amount of pillbugs on each side every minute. We observed many behaviors like in the general observations. But we also observed that they would stop just before Side A and it looked like they were contemplating whether or not they should proceed. Their antennas would move rapidly near the moist filter paper before they stepped on it. We found that more pillbugs explored the dry side (Side B), even though most ventured to the wet side (Side A) they returned to Side B. concluding that our hypothesis was incorrect. Poor Bosco was on his back the whole time and never got to explore Side A 🙁 .

Tonya and Ashle’s Meal Worm Lab

When we began the meal worm lab our hypothesis was that the meal worms would gravitate more towards the the potatoes and decaying leaves and grass because thats where  they can get most of their water. As we conducted our experiment we saw that they did like the potatoes and decaying leaves and grass verses the apple and oatmeal granola  bar. We had five meal worms in each environment our controlled environment and our uncontrolled “Freedom Ville” environment that had dirt they could burrow in. When we started our lab all the meal worms started off as the same size. After three days of conducting our experiment we pulled all the meal worms out of each environment. The meal worms in our controlled environment grew only a little bit and they ate all the potatoes and decaying leaves and grass. Although when we pulled the meal worms out of the “Freedom Ville” environment they doubled in size and their color darkened. We saw the same thing with them; that they only ate the potatoes and decaying leaves and grass. We realized that the meal worms went through better growth stages, ate a lot more, and stayed burrowed most of the time. Our lab experiment proved our hypothesis right because they did prefer to eat the potatoes and decaying leaves and grass more than the apples and oatmeal  granola bars.

How Snakes Lost Their Legs

How Snakes Lost Their Legs

Almost, if not all snakes, used to have legs, but evolved to lose them by either growing them more slowly or for a shorter period of time. New research suggests they most likely evolved from a lizard that either burrowed on land or swam in the ocean. Their legs must have been a hindrance and losing them speaks for the level of snake adaptation. Scientists in France discovered a Cretaceous period snake fossil, Eupodophis descouensi, in Lebanon.The scientists used an imagining technique called synchrotron-radiation computed laminography (SRCL). With an intense, high-energy beam of X-rays, the SRCL deeply penetrated the fossil as the researchers rotated it. The result was thousands of two-dimensional images that were later compiled into a three-dimensional model of the ancient snake’s hips and ultra tiny 0.8-inch legs. The scientists determined that this specimen wasn’t the oldest snake fossil, which is 110 million year old, but it is 90 million years old.. The snake fossil had hind legs, but no front limbs. The “legs” were highly regressed and bent at the knee, with four anklebones but no foot or toe bones. The internal structure of the legs resembles modern terrestrial lizard legs. Another fossil found by the scientists, Najash rionegrina, supported the finding of regressed rear legs. This fossil had a sacrum, a bony feature that supported the pelvis, which researchers believe snake lost as they diverged from lizards. It also seems to have been a terrestrial burrowing lizard. The scientists have not determined if snakes evolved from marine or land based lizards, but they do assert that snake evolved from legged ancestors, and are hopeful that the scientific community will pinpoint snakes common ancestor.

Furless Ferret Fun!

Ferret intestinal tractThe process of our marvelous ferret dissection was over the duration of three days and was rather gruesome, but of course a lot of fun! Our ferret was furless and had no hands and feet due to the company that he was shipped from! Our ferrets mouth was also capped shut making it very difficult to maneuver . Our specimen had a lot of fatty tissue that added to the difficulty of our dissection.

The first step we took was cutting the ferrets posterior side open from the head to the end of its body. Once we were able to pin him open, we realized that an organ had ruptured perhaps near his stomach or liver inside the ferret. There was, what we found to be, clotted blood covering nearly all the internal organs making it hard to decide where to even start in our dissection and recognize organs. We then decided to wash out our ferret‘s insides so we could take a better look inside him. Once he was rinsed out, we were able to go through and estimate which organs were which. It was quite entertaining! Pulling out his large intestines was extremely fascinating. There was too much connective tissue between the small intestines to be able to determine the length of them, but for the large intestines, we streched those bad boys and it came to about 53″ in length! Surprisingly, the intestines were very juicy and appeared to be very greasy. We cut up many of the internal organs out of curiosity! When we came across our ferrets trachea, we realized that is was very similar to a human trachea. We were able to see all the ridges and even feel the texture of the trachea!  It was amazing to see the similarity between our ferret and a human.

To try and see more human similarities, we also took our the heart, lungs, kidneys, and pancreas of our ferret to get a closer look. We found they look rather similar and work in generally the same way, considering we are all mammals! As small as the ferrets heart was, we were able to dissect is and located different valves such as the inferior vena cavea. It was hard to tell the difference between some of the chambers of the heart as well as the ventricles, but overall it was neat to dissect a heart so closely related to the human heart. As our disection continued we decided to remove the brain so that we could investigate and see its texture and different lobes; however, to get to the brain was extremely difficult. Our group took on the task of entering the brain through the ferrets mouth. The easiest way to do this was to, unfortunately, snap off the his lower jaw. Since our ferrets mouth was capped, it was a very difficult process. We eventually unclamped the jaws by pulling with such force that as his lower jaw broke, a terrible crunchy noise filled our ears! The jaws were finally loose and we were able to saw off his bottom jaw presenting a route to reach the brain. We were careful not to damage the brain as we tried to remove it. We FINALLY detached the brain and got to further dissect it and see all of its lobes.

By the end, our ferret was in pretty bad shape. We had removed everything we could to further our knowledge on ferrets and the anatomy of mammals all on their own.  We are greatful for this learning experience which has touched our lives forever. Ap biology is amazing!

Bat Dissection Meets Cinderella in the Middle of Gotham City…

Bat Dissection & the Story of Gotham City

Oooh yeah ;)

Oooh yeah 😉

Once upon a time, in a land far away from you, We started the dissection early one morning in a small lab in the middle of Apache Junction,. This day was different though, this was a day  of discovery and dissection. .. And now, Reflection!

I reflect on the fact that we dissected a bat, it was dead. Mandi screamed when we broke its jaw. His name is Bruce.

We started off by trying to discover a guide online but this is harder then you think. When you search for anything bat you get batman (who is awesome, and is also my future husband *wink wink*) anda bat starfish thing that is also regularly dissected. So we went at it blindly with only a child like curiosity and a picture of its skeletal system (not even it’s darn organs).

Bruce saving Gotham City

Bruce saving Gotham City

This was followed by a lot of squealing and screeching, and that was only Mandark. After she got it all out of her system we were able to start. We cut into it and again more squealing (honestly I DID NOT squeal that much!!). finally we had its body cavity open, it was all one color. We guessed at what organs were what but with it being so bland and maldly clusternucked it was a hard task. We did guess the organs and on the first day, and we realized we were very wrong the next day. On the 3rd day, Jesus rose from the grave. Finally when it was all done and everything was named we went about the task of breaking its jaw and removing it’s tongue (because some bays have crazy long tongues). The jaw broke and more squealing (Mandi). We took out the tongue and to our dismay it was a short tongue :(. So i removed his and took off his skull (squealing). Then I took a piece of his brain and put it under the dissection scope. It looked cool. We viewed the entire bat when we took the entire animal apart. Apparently they are a lot like us. Except smaller, furrier, can fly, better eyesight, have claws and hear differently, and are generally very different. Then the noble prince saved the princess from the evil stepmother and they lived Happily Ever After (Ha! There is no real Happily Ever After!…) The End.


004Chameetah respiratoryChameetah

Our hybrids scientific name is Acinochamaeleonidae (A-sin-o-ca-meal-leo-nid-A) Jubatusy ( Jew- ba- tus-E). The Chameetah is the only genus species of Acinochamaeleonidae. Acinochamaeleonidae means “no-move-claw” and Jubatusy means “maned”, which refers to the cubs manes when they are born. He has a long, skinny body like a greyhound, has yellowish fur, and has a small head with a casque. This is a helmet like bump on top of his head and can grow up to a foot tall as the animal matures. Inside the chameetah’s mouth is a tongue that can grow to be between one and two feet long. His tongue is used to help suffocate his prey and helps him catch insects for snacks.  On his yellowish fur he has black spots all over his coat, but on his tail he has black rings, and he has a black line that goes from the corner of his eyes to the corner of his mouth. Our chameetah can blend into his surroundings as a way to camouflage himself from his prey. His camouflaging abilities and his quickness make it almost impossible for his prey to escape. Chameetahs are known for their quickness because they can run up to 80 mph and is known as the world’s fastest land animal. You can find the chameetah in grasslands and desert areas such as East Africa and Iran. Males and Females only tolerate each other during mating and males eventually go back to their permanent groups called “coalitions”. Chameetahs can mate year round, but tend to mate more during the dry seasons, and they have their cubs during the wet and rainy season. To attract a mate, females deliberately urinate near a Male’s home. After they have mated, the male will only stay for two or three days. Their mating calls include yipping, growling, and stuttering. After being pregnant for three months, the cubs are born by live birth and are nursed by their mother for about four months. When they are born the cubs are about 11.8 inches long and weigh 0.8 pounds. From the time of mating the males leave the females to raise the cubs on her own. When the cubs start maturing at the age of about two and a half months, they start to get their spots and stripes. The cubs were born with the ability to change colors to blend in so they were able to hide from their prey. At this age, the mother starts to teach her young how to stalk and attack their food. The cubs will be dependent on their mother for up to a year. They learn to stalk their prey, getting about 50 yards away before dashing out of cover and sprinting at their targeted animal. When they capture their animal, they grab them by the scruff of the neck with their teeth and suffocate them with their tongue. This normally takes only a few minutes. The chameetah generally eats gazelles, young antelopes, young calves, warthogs, hares and some game birds. The chameetahs are normally hunted by lions, leopards, snakes, and as cubs are hunted by eagles, vultures and jackals. The chameetah, when being stalked, will actually sacrifice his catch or meal for his life. Living in the wild, chameetahs can live up to nine years if they are healthy.

Bearphant – our hybrid animal

bearphantAssignment: hybridize any two animals

By: Emerson, Sol, Mandi, Tyler

Bearphant Project

Elephantum Brunneo Tortuosom Horroris

Scientific Name- Elephantum Brunneo Tortuosom Horroris
The name originates from the Latin language and translates into Horrible Brown Crooked Elephant. The species comes from a very aggressive family that has heightened sense of danger hence the Horrible part in the name. The skin is coated with a beautiful coat of brown fur that shines as bright as the night sky in the subarctic lands that it inhabits. A Bearphant  actually has a crooked jaw because of the tusks however it is not very noticeable. The scientists that named this specific species were not very original but was very accurate in the naming of this grand Elephant.

Range/ Habitat
The Bearphant requiring a diet of large mammals (moose, elk, occasional human) has adapted to live within the Subarctic conditions of Northern America and Russia, where large populations still exist. Through its adaption of coarse bear-like fur it able to withstand these conditions during the summer, spring and fall months. However, from November to March the polar conditions become too much for the Bearphant’s endothermic body systems to manage and it enters hibernation. During this period of time fat stores are converted into energy through the citric acid cycle; furthermore, the metabolic rate is lowered to accommodate the cooler temperatures. This hibernation is made possible because of the constant temperatures that are maintained in the Bearphant’s underground burrow. Here the temperature is kept at a constant of around 66 degrees Fahrenheit compared to above ground where the subarctic conditions can reach well below freezing. During the thaw in the late spring and early summer the Bearphant will emerge from it’s underground den and begin the more active part of its year when it hunts and scavenges.

Relationship to Humans: Supplemented with Anecdotal Evidence

Our Bearphant’s relationship to humans is a friendly one. Because it lives mostly in remote subarctic areas that are not fully populated by humans, when it does come into contact with them, it does not attack. They confront them **kindly**, unless they sense danger it draws on its natural building abilities to construct large distilleries which it utilizes to convert human children into soap. It also has a natural defense against ly–an essential ingredient in soap making. In the event of a soap crisis, the Bearphant will kill its own species in a series of gladiatorial  type contests since it is common knowledge that the best soap comes from the rotting carcasses of Bearphants.

Bearphants do live in cowering fear of their own natural predators, the Mantatross. In all history there has been only one account of a Bearphant killing a human. This was in 2011 when the undeserving junior at Apache Junction High School, Phy Afair, was viciously mauled and killed by a Bearphant. The details of which I shall now list for your amusement. The Bearphant approached Phy who was busy thinking he was trying to catch his pet unicorn. When realizing that Phy was a complete idiot, the Bearphant attacked first, removing his left thumb and right big toe making him completely unbalanced, thus causing Phy to fall over. Wherein the Bearphant moved in for the kill. By removing his trachea from his throat, Phy’s nasally voice was silenced forever. The Bearphant then proceeded to disembowel Phy, harvesting the natural fat that was in his skull where the brain was supposed to be located to make the softest soap known to man. The softness of such soap was due to the fact that the natural fat stored in his unused skull was constantly stimulated by the nerve endings inserted wear the brain typically is. The constant electrical impulse had stimulated the fat and the result was after a most tender and time consuming soap making process the softest soap on the market today. The fortunate death and world favor of Phy Afair’s mauling has been known the world over as “The Happiest Day on Earth”.

Diet: Other Bearphants, Moose, Pegasus, and a delicious variety of fruits, roots, and berries.
The Bearphant is a scavenger of sorts, it will eat anything it can gets it’s paws on, but mostly it eats what is seasonally indignant to its area when its not in hibernation (April to October). In the spring time when it emerges from hibernation it will eat the partially decomposed animals that died and were preserved in the winter’s avalanches (i.e. mountain goats, big horn rams, and the occasional hiker). As far as plants go they eat the glacier lily, sedges, horsetails and many members of the Pea Family sprout, they also will eat the new spring grasses and a variety of tree roots and barks and occasionally parts of the tree itself. Then during summer it will begin to eat more berries as they began to produce. It will also eat new born moose and elks before they get to old to outrun the bearphant. In addition, it will attack and consume lesser bears of similar species to its own. Cannibalism is common among Bearphants, when food  sources such as the spawning salmon are scarce.  During this time it will also eat forbs, dig for roots and tubers, and excavate insects, such as ants and grubs for additional substinance. Common summer food sources are thistle, fireweed, and mushrooms. Fall foods consist of berries, white-bark and limber pine nuts, insect nests, and starchy tubers and roots, which are important for building up fat reserves before winter hibernation. Throughout the entire year the bearphant will eat the occasional human child if the opportunity arises, it will also eat trash and “human” food if it can.

Oscuro – Our hybrid animal

Oscuro skull drawing015Assignment: Hybridize any two animals

By: Allison, Haili, Kailin, Nathan

Theurgists Alopecurus

The Oscuro (Ah-skoo-row), “dark one” as it is referred to in Venezuela, or rather Theurgists Alopecurus (Thur-JEST-s  al-o-PEK-u-rus) is a mammal in the order of Carnivora ranging from Columbia to northern Venezuela to southern Canada and all throughout the southern most half of North America also surrounding the Great Lakes. This animal is currently standing as extinct in the wild (EW) since 2010 this past year.

This animal originates from the crossing of an American Badger (Taxidea taxus) and a Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) . This mammal is a perfect half and half split genetic mutation of a badger and a fox.

Description and Behavior:
Oscuri are mainly distinguished by their incredible coat markings of blackened paws, badger-like white stripe starting at the bridge of the nose to the shoulder blades, thick black stripes down it’s front legs, and a long bushy tail. This coat helps the Oscuro blend into the night leaving only yellow eyes and a white stripe to be seen. During the winter, the coat of this animal grows thicker in order to escape the cold.  Oscuri live at the edge of forests and also roam prairies where it can sleep in hollow stumps of trees and abandoned burrows. During the day they are most sluggish and usually are most active at twilight.
Oscuri are very vicious and are not usually seen out with more than one other of their kind, which is most likely the mate. These animals stand on all four legs at a height of 300 mm and have a 30 cm long tail. Their body length is 60 cm not counting the length of the tail.

This nocturnal animal uses the best of it’s digging abilities to capture burrowed mice by closing to back entrances to burrows and attacking when it is fully aware it’s prey have nowhere else to go. Oscuri are predator-fashioned creatures that can climb trees, dig faster than skunks, and lure out nocturnal birds by the white “snake-like” stripe on their head. By using its thick, hooked claws, the Oscuro climbs to get away from predators such as the bobcat, lynx, cougars, golden eagles, and gray wolves. Due to this animal’s immaculate digging skills, this mammal has protective membranes over it’s eyes to protect them from the flying dirt and dust.
When these animals mate, they mate for life. They have the same basic mating ritual as a fox and often mark their territory with the scent glands in their paws and long bushy tail. Many of these Oscuro lose children and they do only are born as a gray fox or the american badger, never both. The average amount of children in a litter ranges from 1-6 at an overall average of 4. The Oscuro only breeds once a year like the badger and gives birth in hollow trees around December to keep the babies warm.

The Oscuro eats mainly small rodents, small mammals, lizards, insects, and small birds. When there is a shortage of food supply the Oscuro is able to bide it’s hunger with nuts, berries, wild grasses (for digestion), and insects. With it’s long canine teeth, it is mainly a carnivore and thus is in the Carnivora category.

Mantatross – our hybrid animal

MantatrossMantatross skeletonAssignment: hybridize any two animals

by: Ashlynn, Nathaniel, Sharina, Ty


The Mantrtoss is a combination of a Manta Ray and an Albatross. It is of the domain Eukarya, the kingdom animalia, the phylum Chordata, the class Aves, the order Procellariiformes, the family Diomedeidae, the genus Diomede, and the species Nubes-comedentis. It’s scientific name Diomede Nubes-comedentis means “gliding cloud-eater,” which is the most appropriate title we could possibly bequeath upon the Mantatross.


Mantatross have a wingspan of 20 feet and their colors vary from grey to black to white. Their bodies are 7 feet long and their beaks are 7 inches. The front half of their mouths contain 2 rows of pointed 2-inch long teeth.They typically weigh 20 pounds. They have 2 cephalic lobes on either side of its beak which constrict and shorten while flying, and elongate and become active in the water. Mantatross have feathers similar in purpose to those of a duck; Mantatross feathers are saturated by the mucus secreted from its skin. The mucus is mainly an anti-infectious substance which also helps the Mantatross dry itself quickly after diving into the ocean. Mantatross do not have legs; when they’re on land, they hang and perch with their tail, like a possum or bat. The Mantatross has a 16 inch tail with an 8 inch (2 embedded, 6 exposed) barbed stinger at the end, which is invaluable in hunting. Mantatross live to be 30 years old.

Anatomy And Physiology

They have a bilateral brain which allows them to sleep while flying. One half of its brain sleeps while the other focuses on flying; the Mantatross cannot do much more than merely fly while half of its brain is shut down. This ability, coupled with the gliding quality of its wings, is the secret to the Mantatross wandering to and from continents.

Their skeletal system is extremely unique  and perhaps their most idiosyncratic evolution. Its wings contain cartilage throughout to give it strength while swimming, as well as helping it endure high speed dives. Mantatross have a disc of cartilage and spongy bone between its bill and brain to absorb impact. The cartilage of the Mantatross absorbs water, giving it ballast and power in the depths. The water quickly leaves the cartilage after the Mantatross flies for a few seconds. They can drink salt water because they have 2 nasal glands in their head which filter out salt, the salt then drips out its nostrils.

Predators and Prey

The Mantatross is an excellent predator and has little to no natural enemies. The only animal that kills Mantatross is the occasional white shark or killer whale. However, albatross are more frequently killed in mating shows than they are hunted.  Mantatross feed mostly on various medium-sized saltwater fish, which they grab by diving from upwards of 50 feet into depths of up to 30 feet. Albatatross also enjoy eating squid and cephalopods, but catching one is difficult and uncommon because of the depths they swim at. However, some daring Mantatross do plunge and emerge with these prizes, after periling the water pressure, sharks, and time underwater. Even if food is scant, the Mantatross can thrive because it also feeds on krill and plankton.

Hunting Abilities

Their sense of sight is extremely keen, as is their sense of smell. Mantatross have highly specialized tubes along the sides of its bill(area) which are designed for smelling prey while underwater hunting. Mantatross have electron reception nerve cells on its celphalic lobes which can sense movement and objects. They can hold their breath for 20 minutes, which they often make use of. They fly over the ocean until they spot the shadow of prey in the water, then they attack. As specialized for proficiency in water as it is, the Mantatross also hunts very well in the air, sometimes spearing small birds with its tail.


The Mantatross lives in tropical waters, such as those around New Zealand and the Carribean. However, the Mantatross can make journeys that last for hours and hours, so their habitat is spread around the world and individual Mantatross don’t have a specific home.

Mating and Reproduction Behavior

The only time Mantatross land for a long duration is to mate and lay eggs. The Mantatross mates in the summer and the eggs hatch  in the early winter. Mantatross lay eggs in trees near beaches. They mate for life, but fly solo. The mating rituals of the Mantatross are not complex or flagrant, but are quite violent and bloody. The males swoop at each other and essentially jest with their tails. Males and females differ cosmetically only in that the females have slightly shorter tails. A typical brood contains 4-5 eggs; usually 2 of which actually make it to hatching (the rest get eaten by small animals). The newly-hatched birds survive well mainly by themselves, although the mother returns every other day for the first month. They rely on eating crustaceans on the shore.


Mantatross are not abundant, but their population is fairly stable because of their average birth rate and their aptitude for survival. There are currently 1000 Mantatross, and there have been since 1950. Since their discovery in 1920, poachers have sought them for their stingers, but Mantatross evade them by flying higher, diving and re-emerging somewhere unseen, and using evasive aerial maneuvers. However, very recently, oil spills have decreased the Mantatross population, with 20 dying in the BP Gulf spill. Also, the changing water temperatures could pose a problem to Mantatross that mostly surface hunt. Overall, these issues are just part of the cycle of populations and the Mantatross will bounce back.