Wild Things: Life as We Know It
Running elephants, far-flying mosquitos, ancient crocodiles and more...
- By T.A. Frail, Megan Gambino, Erica R. Hendry, Jesse Rhodes and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, May 2010
(Naturbild AB / Corbis)
Many animals, plants and even bacteria have internal, sunlight-sensitive biological clocks that help them know when to eat and sleep. But now scientists working in Norway say reindeer lack such a clock, a first for mammals: they have no daily fluctuation in melatonin, a hormone crucial for sleep-wake cycles. Reindeer live high in the Arctic, where they experience months of winter darkness and summer light. During these seasons, previous research showed, the animals’ activity is independent of the time of day.
Learn more about reindeer at the Encyclopedia of Life.
“Population genetic data suggest a role for mosquito-mediated dispersal of West Nile virus across the western United States,” Meera Venkatesan and Jason L. Rasgon, Molecular Ecology, March 8, 2010
“Nectar yeasts warm the flowers of a winter-blooming plant,” Carlos M. Herrera and María I. Pozo, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, February 10, 2010
“Biomechanics of locomotion in Asian elephants,” J. J. Genin et al., Journal of Experimental Biology, February 12, 2010
“A Circadian Clock Is Not Required in an Arctic Mammal,” Weiqun Lu et al., Current Biology, March 11, 2010
“A New Horned Crocodile from the Plio-Pleistocene Hominid Sites at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania,” Christopher A. Brochu et al., PLoS One, February 24, 2010