School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

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Are penguins able to fly in the air like other birds? The answer is no. But if you want to know if penguins can fly, the answer is yes they are a flying bird. They just fly in water that is 900 times denser than air. What is maybe more amazing is they can fly up to speeds of 20 miles per hour.

When you watch penguins under water you can see the way they move their wings and the forces that are generated by their forelimbs are very similar, if not identical, to the forces of birds that fly in the air. They are flying with their forelimbs (wings).

Question From: Anna
Grade Level: 8

Have a different answer or more to add to this one? Send it to us.

Games and Simulations

Sometimes the best way to learn biology is by playing a game or using a simulation. Here you will find our current collection of fun biology games. We hope you enjoy them.

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Games and Simulations

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Sometimes the best way to learn biology is by playing a game or using a simulation. For this reason some of our stories and activities include companion games. Here we list our current collection of fun biology games. We hope you enjoy them.

Ugly Bug Contest 2013 winner

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  • Insect: major group of animals with a pair of wings and three pairs of legs... more
  • Taxonomy: the practice and science of classification which includes identifying and grouping like things. Its roots are in the Greek, taxis (order, or arrangement) and nomos (law or science). Biological classification... more

The 2013 Ugly Bug Contest has come to an end and all the clues point to a single suspect.

Ugly Bug Contest 2013

show/hide words to know

  • Insect: major group of animals with a pair of wings and three pairs of legs... more
  • Taxonomy: the practice and science of classification which includes identifying and grouping like things. Its roots are in the Greek, taxis (order, or arrangement) and nomos (law or science). Biological classification... more

Who in this cast of characters is the ugliest, the most mysterious, or just plain coolest? Look in the study — is it Colonel Mustard? Or is Ms. Scarlet, hiding in the library, the most likely winner? Who is your number one suspect? Get the clues and decide on your own.

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Credits: Jacob Sahertian for writing and creating video, and James Baxter for transcript. Thank you to this year's sponsors for making it possible to continue the "Ugly Bug Contest".


The video opens on an image of a large building, the focus moving over the facade. It looks old and yellowed, and appears to be made of brick with white trim.  The building is three stories tall, and has many windows. Most of the windows are four square panes of glass, but the ones on the bottom level have glass doors that open onto balconies.

We can hear music: a jazzy horn, drums, and synthesizer, reminiscent of old detective movies.

White text appears on the screen that reads, “Ugly Bug Contest.”

The text fades out and the video stops panning. Centered on the screen is one of the glass doors.

There is a click, and light appears through the window. The video zooms in on it, and the narrator speaks, “Was it Colonel Mustard in the Study?” pause, “Hmm…I wonder. There were a lot of holes in that rag paper.”

As the narrator stops speaking, Colonel Mustard (Anthonomus Grandis thurberrae, a weevil) passes behind the glass door. He has a long brown nose and red eyes, and his body is yellow.

Our view zooms out and pans to a window on the top floor. As it does, the narrator begins speaking again, “Madame Peach looked suspicious in the hallway.”

There is a clicking noise, and a light appears in the window. Narration continues, “What was she hiding in that bottle?…Really suspicious.”

Madame Peach (Scyphophorus Acupunctatus, an agave weevil) comes up from below the window, slowly. She has an orange, red and yellow head and blue-green body. Another click, and the light turn back off.

The image zooms out, and then back in on a large open window frame. This one is differently shaped that the others - arched instead of square.

There is a click, and light fills the open window. We can see a bug, green and blue with a spiky fringe on it’s head.

The narrator says, “Why was Ms. Meadows in the kitchen? Weird hour to be in the kitchen…Odd.” Another click, and the light turns off. “Could be her.”

The video zooms out from the building, and more white text appears reading, “2 Extra Days to Vote.” Then it is replaced by text that says, “VOTE BY DECEMBER 17 AT ASKABIOLOIGST.ASU.EDU”

The video ends.

Ugly Bug Contest 2013

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Ugly Bug Contest 2013

By Dr. Biology



Colonel Mustard, 2013 Winner

The clues are in, and the public has decided. Congratulations Colonel Mustard, you are the 2013 Ugly Bug Contest winner!

2013 Ugly Bug Contest results graph

Who in this mysterious cast of characters is the ugliest? Look in the study — is it Colonel Mustard? Or is it Ms. Scarlet, hiding in the library?

Click on the images below to uncover the identities of the 2013 contestants.

Test

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2013 Contestants

Is it Colonel Mustard in the study that's the ugliest? Perhaps it's Ms. Scarlet in the library. Be part of unraveling the mystery. Vote by December 15.

Click on the images to uncover their identities.

Cast Your Vote
Colonel Mustard
0% (0 votes)
Mr. Brunette
97.8% (44 votes)
Mr. Green
0% (0 votes)
Mrs. White
2.2% (1 vote)
Ms. Peacock
0% (0 votes)
Ms. Scarlet
0% (0 votes)
Professor Plum
0% (0 votes)
Sergeant Gray
0% (0 votes)
Madame Peach
0% (0 votes)
Mrs. Meadows
0% (0 votes)

Mrs. Meadows

Mrs. Meadows

Genus: Dasymutilla 

Species: Klugii

Their common name is the cow killer, named because of the pain of the sting of a female... although it is unlikely to kill a cow, or you for that matter. If you try bothering them (without getting stung) you'll likely hear them make a squeaking sound.

Right Side Content: 
original SEM image

This is the original scanning electron microscope (SEM) image before it was colorized.

bar graph icon  Vote

Madame Peach

Madame Peach

Genus: Scyphophorus 

Species: Acupunctatus

Females lay their eggs in the southwestern agave plant, giving these beetles the common name 'agave weevil'. Considering that traditional tequlia is made by using agave, it wouldn't have been too far-fetched to suppose that you'd find a baby weevil (aka grub) or two in the bottled product.

Right Side Content: 
original SEM image

This is the original scanning electron microscope (SEM) image before it was colorized.

bar graph icon  Vote

Mr. Brunette

Mr. Brunette

Genus: Dasymutilla 

Species: Klugii

Their common name is the cow killer, named because of the pain of the sting of a female... although it is unlikely to kill a cow, or you for that matter. If you try bothering them (without getting stung) you'll likely hear them make a squeaking sound.

Right Side Content: 
original SEM image

This is the original scanning electron microscope (SEM) image before it was colorized.

bar graph icon  Vote

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