School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

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Each gull species has its own vocabulary of sounds, and they communicate things such as mating rituals, warning calls, and location of food sources. Young gulls have high pitched whining calls that together with their behavior cause parents to regurgitate food for them. Most warning calls are growling-like. Some calls are soft and others are loud and far reaching to warn away competitors. You may be watching and listening to several species of gulls, and each species may have sounds peculiar to its species (such as mate attraction calls).

Question From: Susan
Grade Level: 10

To learn more about the songs of birds, try these links.

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It is hard to connect "smarts" intelligence with brain size differences in animals. In some cases it is possible to judge intelligence and brain size, like if we were to compare a frog brain and a cat brain. However, when you compare the brains of the same animal species you run into problems. So it is difficult to connect brain size and intelligence when you compare one cat with another cat or a human to another human.

Something for you to think about: Elephants have a much larger brain than humans. Are elephants smarter than us?

Question From: Katie
Grade Level: 8

To learn more about the brain, try these links.

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Have you ever wondered what  questions we have received and answered over the years? You are not alone. Others have wondered the same thing. After answering more than 30,000 queries we have sorted through our collection and are listing a few of our top questions and answers.

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Here is a bat!

Catch and Sketch Plankton

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Catch and Sketch Plankton

By Colleen Miks
Illustrated by James Baxter

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  • Microscopic: too small to be seen with an unaided eye.
  • Organism: a living thing that can be small like bacteria or large like an elephant.
  • Plankton: a group of free floating organisms living in water that includes many kinds of plants and animals... more
  • Realistic: to draw, paint, or sculpt an object in great detail so that it looks like the object.
  • Scale Bar: a line drawn and placed along side an object or on a map to indicate the true size of the object or area of the map.

Sometimes when we only look at a plant or animal we miss seeing some of their amazing parts and how they are constructed. The story of the Invisible Watery World shows that there are tiny living things that come in many shapes and sizes. In lakes, streams and oceans there are plankton. These are small and often microscopic organisms.

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Link: content/robert-hooke

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Ugly Bug Contest 2012 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

In 2012 the public has decided. Congratulations Orthoptera, you have earned your 008 status.

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Music is from


Voice: Elizabeth Mikkelsen (Moneypenny), Andrew Tatlow (James)
Script/transcript: Jacob Sahertian
Video editing and Flash animation: Jacob Sahertian
Sound editing: Jacob Mayfield
Illustration: James Baxter
Bug colorization: Debra Page Baluch


[007 walks in a hallway towards a door. He enters room and throws hat onto the coat rack. In the background, Moneypenny patiently watches while sitting at her desk. Music is playing softly in the background.]

007: Moneypenny
Moneypenny: have you heard the announcement, James?
007: Don’t tell me you’re getting married?
Moneypenny: The chief has just announced the new 00 agent.
007: Oh Moneypenny, for a minute I thought I needed to be jealous.

[Music begins to get louder as the camera zooms past them towards the background round viewer in order to get a clear view of the winner. Credits scrolls as the winning bug walks towards the coat rack and accidentally knocks it down. Text says "Don't forget to download your own Ugly Bug coloring page and poster at"]

Dr. Biology visits with Biologist Kate Ihle

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  • Behavior: in biology behavior is anything that an organism does involving action and response to stimulation. There are two types, innate (part of its nature) and learned behavior... more
  • Iridescence: bright rainbow-like colors that can change depending on the angle you look at them or the angle light hits them.
  • Solitary: living alone.

A Biologists Life in the Rainforest

The rainforest is filled with many wonderful plants and animals. Biologist Kate Ihle is learning about the life of the tiny, but colorful orchid bee. This jewel-like animal is unlike the honey bees you might know. They can be both social and solitary. In this video Dr. Biology talks with Dr. Ihle in her field laboratory located on the tiny Barro Colorado Island in the middle of the Panama Canal.

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