School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

Ask A Biologist heading

What's a Clone?

Cloning subheader image

What's a Clone?

show/hide words to know

  • DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid is the information "blue-print" of the cell. It is a nucleic acid and is made from building blocks called nucleotides. This genetic information is passed from parent to child... more
  • Egg: a female gamete, which keeps all the parts of a cell after fusing with a sperm.
  • Gamete: specialized cells found in your reproductive organs that have half the amount of DNA of somatic cells. These cells combine to make a fertilized egg... more
  • Gene: a region of DNA where a specific set of instructions for one trait is kept. We get some of our genes from our mother and some from our father... more
  • Nucleus: where DNA stays in the cell, plural is nuclei.
  • Somatic cells: the cells in your body, except for gametes. Soma is Latin for body.
  • Sperm: a male gamete, which only transfers its DNA to the egg... more

What Makes a Clone a Clone? what's a clone

We just learned that a clone is someone who shares your DNA, like identical twins. What's the big deal then? If we have clones running around, going to school, playing with other kids like you, why is cloning making the evening news? Cloning is such a big deal because of two reasons. Reason number one is that we can do it outside of the mother.

Send In the Clones

Cloning subheader image

Send In the Clones

show/hide words to know

  • DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid is the information "blue-print" of the cell. It is a nucleic acid and is made from building blocks called nucleotides. This genetic information is passed from parent to child... more
  • Egg: a female gamete, which keeps all the parts of a cell after fusing with a sperm.
  • Gamete: specialized cells found in your reproductive organs that have half the amount of DNA of somatic cells. These cells combine to make a fertilized egg... more
  • Gene: a region of DNA where a specific set of instructions for one trait is kept. We get some of our genes from our mother and some from our father... more
  • Somatic cells: the cells in your body, except for gametes. Soma is Latin for body.
  • Sperm: a male gamete, which only transfers its DNA to the egg... more

Send In the Clones send in the clones

Would a clone of yourself actually be you? People might tell you that you have your mother's eyes or your father's smile, or that your sister looks just like you did at her age. Why is that? You know that you are different in some ways from everyone in your family, but the fact remains that children look like their parents, just like you look like yours.

The Tale of the Two Headed Lampropeltis getulus californiae

two headed snake header image

The Tale of the Two Headed Lampropeltis getulus californiae

By CJ Kazilek
Illustrated by Dr. Biology

show/hide words to know

  • Ectotherm: an animal that controls its body temperature using outside sources... more
  • Embryo: the egg after fertilization and before it has developed into a recognizable form.
  • Legend: a popular story handed down from earlier times.
  • Myth: a story not based on fact or a natural explanation. Often dealing with supernatural beings or events.
  • Reptile: is a lung breathing, egg laying animal that is covered by scales or horny plates... more
  • X-ray: a photograph taken of the inside of the body using a special type of light... more

Two-headed King SnakeIt was Sunday night, 1993. This may have been a usual night except this Sunday was Halloween and what happened was ASU's most famous reptile died. A Common Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula californiae, but this snake was anything but common.

Secrets of a Superorganism

superorganism header image

Secrets of a Superorganism

By Tate Holbrook, Rebecca Clark, & Brian Haney
Illustrated by Sabine Deviche

show/hide words to know

  • Brood: immature forms of an ant (eggs, larvae, and pupae).
  • Colony: a group of the same kind (species) of plants or animals living together... more
  • Division of Labor: different individuals specialize on different jobs.
  • Organism: a living thing that can be small like bacteria or large like an elephant.
  • Pheromone: a chemical signal used for communication.
  • Queen: a female ant that lays eggs.
  • Solitary: living alone.
  • Worker: a female ant that performs jobs other than reproduction.

Secrets of a Superorganism

superorganismAnts are everywhere - they thrive in forests, fields, deserts, and cities all over earth. But what is the secret behind their success? Like humans, ants are social. They live and work together in highly organized societies called colonies. In fact, most ant colonies are so united toward the common purposes of survival, growth, and reproduction that they behave like a single organism, or a “superorganism.”

Seeing Color

Seeing Color

By Kim Cooper and CJ Kazilek
Illustrated by Dr. Biology

show/hide words to know

  • Ishihara test: named after its inventor, this test is used to tell if you can see colors... more
  • Photon: the smallest bit of light.
  • Photoreceptor: the special type of cell in your eye that picks up photons and then signals the brain. They are located in the retina (a layer at the back of the eye). There are two types, rods and cones.
  • Prism: a crystal object, such as cut glass, with at least three similar sides... more
  • Retina: getting its name from the Latin meaning "net", the retina is located at the back of the eye and is where light is detected... more
  • Trillion: 1,000,000,000,000.
  • Wavelength: a property of photons that determines their energy (how "strong" they are).We see photons of different wavelengths as different colors.

How we see color

You look out at a field of wildflowers showing off their bright reds, brilliant blues, and accents of yellow and white centers. These are just a few of the rainbow of colors you will see today, but have you ever wondered how we see these colors? What about other animals, do they see the same colors as you? Do animals see color at all?

Sea Urchins Do Research

sea urchin header image

Sea Urchins Do Research

By CJ Kazilek
Illustrated by Dr. Biology

show/hide words to know

  • Embryo: the egg after fertilization and before it has developed into a recognizable form.
  • Fertilization: uniting sperm and egg to begin embryo development. English spelling fertilisation... more
  • Indigenous: things living or non-living found naturally in an area.
  • Intertidal: the area where land meets water.
  • Pentamerous: having five similar parts.
  • Subtidal: the area always covered by ocean water.
  • Symmetry: equally balanced arrangement.

Sea Urchin Research

Purple sea urchin in salt water tankSlowly moving across the bottom of the aquarium is a dome-shaped creature, covered by what looks like thick purple toothpicks. The toothpicks are really called spines.

Pollen - Nature's Tiny Clues

Pollen header image

Pollen - Nature's Tiny Clues

By Vaughn Bryant & Gretchen Jones
Illustrated by Dr. Biology

show/hide words to know

  • Decay: when something wastes or wears away or changes from healthy to unhealthy such as when food becomes rotten.
  • Forensics: using scientific knowledge for legal needs... more
  • Microscopic: too small to be seen with an unaided eye.

Tiny clues tell a story

A house burglar is caught in the act and in a panic grabs a heavy paperweight from a desk and hits the home owner on the head, accidentally killing him. Fearing he will be caught, he races out of the house but trips over a display of blooming tropical plants in the hallway. Hours later the suspect is arrested while trying to use one of the stolen credit cards. He claims he found the credit cards and was never at the crime scene.

Not So Scary Scorpions

Not So Scary Scorpions

By Christopher Putnam
Illustrated by Dr. Biology

show/hide words to know

  • Ancient: very old.
  • Antivenin: also called antivenom, is a medicine used to treat people who have been bitten or stung by a poisonous animal... more
  • Arachnid: a joint-legged animal that is part of the class Arachnida. These animals have eight legs and include spiders, scorpions, as well as other animals... more
  • Habitat: the place where an animal or plant lives.
  • Nocturnal animal: animal that is active at night... more
  • Predator: an animal that eats other animals to survive. For example, a lion is a predator... more
  • Prey: animal hunted for food by another animal or animals... more
  • Symptoms: (1) How you look or feel when sick; like a fever or rash. (2) Changes in your body or behavior when you are sick.
  • Venom: poisonous substance some animals use to kill prey or defend themselves.

Don't be misled by the title of the story. Scorpions are amazing animals, but they can pack a painful sting. So even though they are rarely deadly, you wouldn't want to think they are harmless. Instead, spend some time reading about these arachnids and learn about what we know and what we are still learning about these ancient animals.

Mite Mighty Foe to 'Killer' Bees in State

killer bees header image

Mite Mighty Foe to 'Killer' Bees in State

By Paul Matthews of the Tribune Newspapers of Arizona
Illustrated by Dr. Biology

show/hide words to know

  • Infestation: to spread or swarm in a troublesome way. Floor beetles can spread and infest grain foods like cereal.
  • Migration: movement of an animal or a group of animals from one place to another.
  • Parasite: an organism that lives on or inside another organism (the host) and uses it to survive, causing damage or harm to the host.
  • Resistance: to withstand the force or effect of something; for example, the ability to protect against parasites by killing or limiting the growth of the parasite.

Images in this article are linked to more information.

How to Find What You Need on the Internet

header image

How to Find What You Need on the Internet

By CJ Kazilek
Illustrated by CJ Kazilek

show/hide words to know

  • Biased: when someone presents only one viewpoint. Biased articles do not give all the facts and often mislead the reader.
  • Boolean logic: a way to combine words called logical operators to improve search results. The Boolean system uses logical operators AND, OR, and NOT. Named after the English George Boole... more
  • Internet: a communications network that connects computers around the world.
  • Keyword: a significant word from a title or document that is used to index content.
  • Metasearch engines: a website that searches other search engines. This allows a person to use many search engine databases from one website.
  • Search engine: a website that provides search tools used to locate content on the Web. Usually search engines collect information on a large number of websites and places them in an index that can be searched quickly to find needed information... more
  • URL: stands for "uniform resource locator." The unique address for websites and each of their pages.
  • Unique: one of a kind.
  • Web: short for World Wide Web (WWW) is a collection of linked electronic documents accessed by the Internet through a web browser... more

The Greatest Paper Ever Written?

Another long day in class is almost over. Thank goodness. At least there will be no homework tonight. 

Wait! The teacher is saying something. Oh noooooo! She is saying those dreaded words… "Your assignment is to write at least five pages on... The paper is due on…."

You miss some of the details. No problem. This will be an easy assignment now that you have access to a computer and the Web. No worries. The assignment is quickly forgotten except for the few words scribbled in your class notebook. 

Share to Google Classroom

dropdown arrow downdropdown arrow up  Learn More

Share to Google Classroom