The blood-sucking habit of the European medicinal leech (Hirudo medicinalis) can be very useful in medicine. Scientists have recently sequenced the genome of the animal.
Wolf spiders are great hunters. Some species live in the Arctic, where temperatures are increasing. Climate change may have many effects on the spiders and the ecosystem.
Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria. They don't infect our cells, but they're found in bacteria living in our gut. Here they may affect our lives.
The rhinoceros hornbill and the horned guan are interesting birds whose populations are a concern. They have a head ornament that is made of keratin and resembles a horn.
Frogs are intriguing animals. Blue and strawberry poison dart, golden poison, Malagasy rainbow, tomato, and emerald glass frogs are colorful and interesting amphibians.
Willows are attractive plants with some interesting features and uses. They produce salicin, the forerunner of aspirin, and miyabeacin, which might fight some types of cancer.
Music can be very enjoyable and can have a wonderful effect on mood. Traditional songs about hope and bravery can be inspiring. I include some of them in this article.
A haiku is a nature poem consisting of three lines. It contains an observation or experience from a moment in time. It often contains a seasonal reference and juxtaposition as well.
Slow lorises are intriguing animals and the only venomous primates. They need our help. A protein in the venom closely resembles an allergenic protein in cat dander and saliva.
Walking sharks have elongated and spotted bodies. Muscular fins allow them to "walk" on the ocean floor as well as swim. Epaulette sharks are one example and walk on land.
Goat's rue contains a chemical called galegine. Studying galegine enabled scientists to create the medication known as metformin. Metformin has multiple mechanisms of action in the body.
Stentor is an interesting, single-celled predator. At least one species makes relatively complex decisions. Studying it may help scientists understand the behaviour of our cells.
Winter Solstice or Yule is an important time of year for many people and is often accompanied by a celebration. Some very enjoyable music has been created for the event.
The aye-aye is a lemur with some bizarre features. Its very thin and long third finger is used for tap foraging and its hidden pseudothumb probably acts as a sixth digit.
The American sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) is grown as an ornamental tree. Its leaves are a gorgeous colour in autumn, but its spiky fruits may cause problems.
The northwestern crow is an intelligent and interesting bird. Canuck is a wild but semi-tame crow who voluntarily associates with people in Vancouver. Unfortunately, he has disappeared.
The crypt-keeper wasp is a hyperparasite that controls another parasitic insect known as the crypt gall wasp. It tunnels its way through the host's head to escape from a gall.
Klebsiella pneumoniae is a bacterium that can live in our body and is sometimes dangerous. It's usually harmless in the digestive tract, but this may not always be true.
A-maze-ing Laughter, Inukshuk, Search, and Solo are noteworthy sculptures in Vancouver. They are located by the ocean and near the entrance to Stanley Park.
The autumn equinox is a celestial event and a pagan festival. Michaelmas is a Christian festival. Both occur in September and are connected to the harvest in some way.
Water hyacinth is a beautiful and invasive plant that causes major problems. It has the ability to act as a great biofuel, especially when combined with cow dung.
Several animatronic dinosaur exhibits have been held at the PNE in Vancouver. This article shows photos of the latest one and includes facts about the real animals.
The forest elephant is in trouble. The loss of the species could increase the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere, which in turn could worsen climate change.
Abecedarian poetry is related to alphabetical order in some way. In this article, I share five poems in the category as well as nature facts that inspired the poetry.
Michael Praetorius was a prolific composer of the seventeenth century. His compositions are loved today and his written work about music is a valuable resource.
The killer whales that visit the Salish Sea in summer are in trouble. The group is endangered. One reason is lack of salmon to eat, but there may be others.
Recent research has shown that four plant extracts inhibit the growth of some dangerous bacteria in the lab. Three of them may have been helpful during the American Civil War.
Thousands of years ago, Doggerland connected Britain to Europe where the North Sea exists today. The area had a rich Mesolithic culture, which researchers are exploring.
The beautiful spirit bear has a white or cream coat and lives in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia. It's an unusual form of the kermode bear, which is a subspecies of Ursus americanus.
The crucifix frog has a cross pattern on its body. It lives mostly underground but emerges during the rainy season. It makes a sticky substance that may have medical uses.
The recorder can create lovely music. A rich repertoire is available for ensembles and soloists. This article includes and describes twelve pieces for recorder ensembles.
John Dowland was a popular and prolific composer of the sixteenth and seventeenth century. His songs and instrumental music are still admired, enjoyed, and studied.
The beauty of the moon and its symbolic meanings have inspired many songs around the world. Some lovely folk and traditional songs about the moon exist.
Tree kangaroos are unusual and intriguing marsupials that move with ease through the trees and on the ground. The Lumholtz's tree kangaroo is the smallest species in the group.
Lovely Christmas songs can be found in the early music genre and in the music of more recent times. In this article, I include and discuss twelve songs in a journey through time.
An Advent calendar is often part of the Christmas season. It gives a small gift each day as Christmas approaches. Helping someone every day is another way to celebrate Advent.
Scotland and Ireland have a rich musical heritage. It's interesting, enjoyable, and sometimes educational to explore traditional folk songs from the two countries.
Trees can be beautiful and impressive. They have inspired the lyrics of many songs, including some lovely folk and traditional songs of England, Scotland, and Wales.
Wombats are marsupials with some unique features. They have cube-shaped poop and a dermal shield at the end of their body that helps to protect them from a predator's attack.
Influenza viruses have unpleasant and sometimes serious effects. Antibodies to flu viruses made by llamas may enable scientists to create a better treatment.
Harvestmen or daddy longlegs are interesting animals that are arachnids but not spiders. They have some unusual features and are often fascinating to observe.
Jackfruit trees produce huge fruits. Cacao seeds are used to make cocoa, but the trees are in trouble. Jackfruit seed powder may be a good substitute for cocoa.
Souling in order to receive a small cake is an old tradition that was a forerunner of trick-or-treating. The lovely "Soul Cake" song has been recorded by multiple artists.
Samhain was the Celtic precursor of Halloween. The festival celebrated the last harvest of the year and the nearness of the Otherworld. Today's Samhain often includes music.
Western red cedar (or western redcedar) is a common and interesting tree in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Historically, it was important in First Nations culture.
Hercules beetles are named after the hero of ancient myths. The male has horns that may be very long. The insects can change colour and are found in both the old and the new world.
Acanthamoeba is a microscopic, single-celled organism that can infect the cornea of the eye. It causes a disorder called Acanthamoeba keratitis, which is most common in contact lens users.
Antibiotics interfere with vital activities in bacteria by various methods. Unfortunately, microbes are becoming resistant to the drugs. Arylomycins may be helpful in this situation.
The mbira is a traditional African instrument that is played in North America. An instrument based on the mbira can be used to detect the presence of counterfeit medicines.
The Spix's macaw is endemic to Brazil but has been declared extinct in the wild. Fortunately, it still exists in captivity. Captive birds may one day be released into the wild.
Staphylococcus epidermidis is a bacterium found on skin and mucous membranes. It's often harmless, but some strains have become resistant to antibiotics and may be dangerous.
Camu camu fruits contain a very high level of vitamin C and a large quantity of polyphenols. In mice, the fruits have been shown to have an anti-obesity effect.
Shoebill storks, or shoebills, have a huge and very impressive bill. The animal's unusual features make it a unique bird. I describe 45 facts about the bird and its life.
Blood type is an important factor to consider in transfusions in order to avoid incompatibility reactions. Scientists have removed antigens to create type O red blood cells.
Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates, which produce indole-3-carbinol in our digestive tract. The latter chemical may decrease the risk of colon cancer.
The gharial is a critically-endangered relative of the crocodile. It lives in and next to rivers in India and Nepal. The animal has some unusual and interesting features.
Glaucoma causes vision loss if it's not treated. Specially-formulated curcumin might one day be helpful for the disorder. In some cases, glaucoma may be an autoimmune disease.
Alastair Sim was a popular actor who made some memorable and very enjoyable films. His version of A Christmas Carol (or Scrooge) is often seen during the Christmas season.
Melon-headed whales and rough-toothed dolphins are intriguing animals. In some areas, their distribution overlaps. A hybrid between the two species has been discovered in Hawaii.
Social amoebas are also known as cellular slime molds and dictyostelids. They start life as ameboid cells but join to form a multicellular grex or slug when food is scarce.
Hoatzins are strange birds from South America. They digest their food in an unusual way and can have an unpleasant smell. Their chicks have claws on their wings.
Treponema pallidum pertenue is a bacterium that causes yaws. The disease has made a comeback after being almost eradicated. The infection can cause deformities and disabilities.
African civets have some unusual features and interesting behavior. Unfortunately, they are kept in captivity on civet farms so that their musk can be collected.
The axolotl is a fascinating and critically endangered amphibian. It stays in its larval form throughout its life and has very impressive powers of regeneration.
The longhorned tick is native to East Asia. It has been introduced to the USA, where its numbers are increasing. In some countries, it transmits microbes that cause disease.
Horsehair worms are long and slender animals that writhe and form shapes resembling knots. One larval stage is a parasite that controls the behaviour of its arthropod host.
The ochre sea star is a colourful invertebrate that has been seriously affected by a wasting disease. The disorder causes the body to disintegrate into a goo as though it's melting.
The kakapo is a flightless parrot that's endemic to New Zealand and is critically endangered. It's the heaviest parrot in the world. Sirocco is a famous member of the species.
Planarians are flatworms with an amazing ability to regenerate. Scientists are investigating this ability and hope to apply their discoveries to human biology.
Ferns are attractive plants with interesting features. They exist in both wild and cultivated forms. The western sword fern is a common plant in coastal British Columbia.
Hammerhead flatworms are a type of land planarian. They have a semilunar head and are sometimes very long. They are predators and have been introduced to Europe and the US.
Alpha-synuclein fibrils in the brain are a feature of Parkinson's disease. The fibrils sometimes appear in nerves around the gut. They might travel from there to the brain.
Plasmodium vivax is often said to be a less serious cause of malaria than P. falciparum, but it can be deadly. It may become dormant in the liver and later become active.
The classical music genre includes some lovely music about mothers. Sharing a playlist of these pieces and listening to them is a great way to honor and celebrate motherhood.
English and Spanish bluebells and hybrids between the two species live in British Columbia and Britain. The plants are lovely but are experiencing or causing a problem.
Saprolegnia and Phytophthora are water molds. Some species of Saprolegnia kill fish. One species of Phytophthora caused the nineteenth-century potato famine in Ireland.
Puss and saddleback caterpillars are attractive insects. Unfortunately, they are stinging caterpillars. In some people, the sting can cause serious problems..
The Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort is a great place to visit at any time of year. It offers recreational activities, scenic views, Whistler Village, and other attractions.
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing impairment. Techniques that help people with the condition exist. One type of brain-training game might be useful.
Interstitial fluid bathes and supports cells. The interstitium is the space containing the fluid. Some scientists think that these spaces in the body are connected and form an organ.
Hellebores bloom in late winter and spring. Their flowers are a welcome sight in nature, gardens, and landscaped areas. Lenten and Christmas roses are types of hellebores.
Paneth cells are found in the glands of the small intestine and play an important role in keeping the intestinal lining healthy. Crohn's disease has been linked to problems in the cells.
Giant viruses are huge entities compared to other viruses and are bigger than some bacteria. They can often be seen under a light microscope and have very large genomes.
The carnauba palm and the candelilla shrub are interesting plants that produce a useful wax. Many people are exposed to carnauba or candelilla wax via the products that they buy.
Researchers have found that people with osteoarthritis seem to have a lower than normal level of FOXO proteins in their damaged joints. Increasing the protein level might help to treat the disease.
The Tasmanian devil is an endangered species whose population is decreasing. The main reason for the decrease is devil facial tumor disease. Immunotherapy may one day be helpful.
Giardia is an interesting parasite that causes an unpleasant intestinal disorder called giardiasis. Understanding the parasite's behaviour may lead to better treatments for the disorder.
The cornett, cornetto, or zink produces a lovely sound that often resembles the human voice. It has finger holes like a recorder and a mouthpiece like a trumpet.
Men are far less likely to get multiple sclerosis than women. This may be because testosterone provides protection. Studying how the protection works may help both genders.
The pre-decimal penny existed for hundreds of years before the decimal penny of 1971. It's associated with some interesting sayings, traditions, and historical facts.
The sixpence and the shilling are pre-decimal coins from the United Kingdom. They have a long history and are associated with some interesting traditions.
Wild relatives of some major agricultural crops are in trouble, which could be a serious problem. The genetic diversity in wild crops may provide food security for the future.
Glaucoma is a vision problem caused by optic nerve damage. It often involves increased pressure in the eyeball. Research is continuing and may help to improve treatments.
A ketogenic diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrate. The diet may be very helpful for some people with epilepsy, but it must be monitored by a doctor.
When someone experiences a heart attack, cells in their heart die. Scientists have found two ways to replace the lost cells in rodents. The techniques may one day work in us.
Dogs with a hacking cough may have a very infectious disease called kennel cough. A vet's diagnosis is essential, however. My dog has experienced the disease.
Rigoletto is a popular opera composed by Giuseppe Verdi. In this article, I discuss the opera's history, plot, and leading characters. I also include some of its lovely music.
Scientists have found evidence linking insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. The discovery is interesting, but more research is needed.
Mud is a versatile and interesting material. It's useful for both animals and humans. It can also be dangerous, especially in the form of mud volcanoes and mudflows.
The Barber of Seville, Pagliacci, Falstaff, and A Masked Ball are popular Italian operas. For each work, I include a synopsis, music, and a photo of a related sculpture.
Tiny microplastic particles are created from plastic waste. The particles enter our body in multiple ways. Their possible effects are unknown but are a concern.
Salbutamol (also known as albuterol and Ventolin) is used in rescue inhalers for asthma. Research suggests that it may reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease.
Mycobacterium leprae is the bacterium that causes leprosy. It damages nerves, perhaps by reprogramming Schwann cells or by hijacking macrophages in the immune system.
Goldfish are interesting fish that have some surprising features. The animals are popular pets. They are found in the wild, where they may become very large.
Immunotherapy may one day be used to stop beta cell destruction in the early stage of type 1 diabetes. The beta cells produce insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar.
The swell shark and the chain catshark produce beautiful patterns of light in a process called biofluorescence. The light emission may have important functions.
Pyrosomes are elongated, thimble-shaped creatures that swim in the ocean and are bioluminescent. A pyrosome is actually a colony of small animals called tunicates.
A common cause of hearing loss is damage to the hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear. Researchers hope to use stem cell therapy to produce new hair cells.
Bumble bees have surprisingly capable brains. They can play a simple version of soccer and pull a string to get a reward. They may even experience optimism.
The trail beside the waterfront in downtown Vancouver is an attractive place to explore. Some interesting examples of public art can be seen near the trail.
Naked mole-rats have a strange appearance and some fascinating features. Studying the rodents might help researchers to understand and treat some of our health problems.
Julie Fowlis is a popular Scottish folk singer and musician. She generally sings in Gaelic and is involved in collecting the traditional songs of the Hebrides.
Jimmy MacCarthy is a leading Irish songwriter. He creates contemporary folk songs that often contain interesting imagery that can be interpreted in several ways.
The wood frog survives freezing. A study of its adaptations for survival may be helpful in understanding human health problems and in the use of organs for transplants.
Chemicals in urine react with pool disinfectants. The resulting products can be irritating to the eyes, skin, and airways and might cause more serious effects.
McVitie's is a well known biscuit maker in Britain. The company has had a long history. Two of its most popular products are digestive biscuits and Jaffa cakes.
Unripe lychees and ackee fruits contain toxins. Both fruits should be eaten only when ripe. In addition, it's very important that ripe ackee is prepared properly.
Tomatoes are nutritious and have an interesting history, but they often lack flavor compared to ones in the past. A recent discovery may provide tastier tomatoes.
Wales has a wonderful musical heritage. Folk and traditional songs are an important part of Welsh culture. The country is known for its vocal music, singers, and choirs.
England has a rich collection of traditional folk songs. This article includes performances of four songs and describes the interesting background of the music.
Svalbard reindeer live on an archipelago near mainland Norway. They are the smallest subspecies of reindeer. Research indicates that their bodies are shrinking in size.
Acorn worms have an amazing ability to regenerate body parts. We possess most of the worm's genes used in regeneration. Scientists hope to enable us to make new body parts.
TRIUMF is Canada's particle accelerator centre. It's located in Vancouver and houses the largest cyclotron in the world. It's a research facility and produces medical isotopes.
In the 1960s, a folk music revival in the form of folk rock occurred in the United States and Britain. The enjoyable songs that were created still have value today.
Pitcher plants produce cups that trap and digest prey. The digestive enzymes of one species can break down gluten and may help people with celiac disease.
The Venus flytrap is a fascinating carnivorous plant that is very popular in homes. The wild population grows in a limited area in the United States and is in trouble.
Sickle cell disease is painful for sufferers and can sometimes be dangerous. Genome editing may one day correct the mutation that causes the disorder.
The Nitobe Memorial Garden is located in Vancouver, British Columbia. It's a beautiful and often peaceful Japanese garden that is filled with symbolism.
The UBC Botanical Garden is a wonderful place for plant lovers. It's both enjoyable and educational to explore. The garden contains a mix of nature and cultivation.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a bacterium that lives in the nose of many people. It's often harmless but can cause a variety of diseases. Some of these are potentially serious.
Dinosaurs Alive is an exhibition consisting of large, animatronic dinosaurs. This article contains facts about the real animals as well as photos of some of the models.
Eco-sculptures of animals are a traditional summer attraction in Burnaby, British Columbia. The interesting sculptures are intended for entertainment and education.
Wolbachia is a bacterium that infects mosquitoes. It prevents viral replication in its host and may protect us from dengue, Zika virus disease, and other illnesses.
Broca's area, Wernicke's area, and the circle of Willis are important parts of the brain. They are named after the famous scientists who discovered them.
The Mariana Trench is the deepest place in the ocean and contains some fascinating animals. NOAA has made some exciting discoveries about life in the trench.
The giant hogweed causes burns and blisters. Grapefruit juice interferes with many medicines. The chemicals that cause these effects are called furanocoumarins.
Purple coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and Michaelmas daisies are members of the Aster family. Each plant has beautiful flowers and is associated with some interesting facts.
Labrador Retrievers are lovely dogs but have a tendency to become obese. A mutation in the POMC gene may maintain their hunger and make weight control harder.
An oral storytelling performance can be entertaining and educational. Prose, poems, and songs can tell a story. Myths and traditional tales are often shared orally.
The Selkirk Rex has a curly coat and an unusual appearance. The cat makes a friendly pet that likes to play but has a calm personality. Pompous Albert is a famous example.
In winter, the Narcisse Snake Dens contain the world's largest concentration of red-sided garter snakes. The reptiles are non-venomous and are sometimes kept as pets.
In some cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a protein called SOD1 is misfolded due to a gene mutation. In mice, a copper compound can prevent the misfolding.
Mosquitoes can transmit the Zika virus to humans. The virus has been linked to microcephaly in babies and Guillain-Barré syndrome. It was recently a problem and hasn't yet disappeared.
The sweet wormwood plant produces a chemical called artemisinin. The chemical can be a great treatment for malaria, although signs of resistance to the drug have appeared.
Rapamycin increases lifespan in mice, apparently by inhibiting a protein called mTOR. It may do the same in dogs and possibly in humans. It's currently being tested in pet dogs.
The mucus that covers fish has several functions, including protection from multiple dangers and serving as food for young fish. The substance may also be useful for us.
Coral bleaching is an event in which corals lose their pigment and main source of food. It often causes corals to die. Oxybenzone in sunscreens may contribute to coral bleaching.
Flour beetles are often wrongly called flour weevils. This article contains facts about the insects, tips for controlling them, and a flash fiction story about weevils.
Octopuses have fascinating abilities. Some have fins that help them move. Others demonstrate intelligence. The genome of one species is very unusual.
Still Creek in Burnaby Lake Regional Park is a lovely place to visit. Himalayan balsam grows on the land beside the creek. The plant is beautiful but often invasive.
One species of bacteria in the genus Yersinia causes bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic plague. Others cause foodborne illness. One species may eventually help to treat cancer.
Pacific white-sided dolphins are intelligent and very social animals. This article describes the lives of the wild dolphins and of some rescued animals in captivity.
Irises are beautiful flowers that have a wide variety of colours. Some are used to make orris root, which has a lovely scent but can cause an allergic response.
"The Secret Garden" is a story about a seemingly magical garden that has healing powers. The garden has been hidden for ten years when a young girl discovers it.
Bowhead whales live in the Arctic, break through ice to breathe, and sing intriguing and beautiful songs. They have a large head with a huge, bow-shaped mouth.
The pancreas makes an enzyme called trypsin. Once it has been activated, trypsin digests protein in the small intestine. If it becomes active in the pancreas, pancreatitis may develop.
A red herring and a fine or pretty kettle of fish are idioms with an interesting history. Both the literal meanings of the terms and the unexpected ones are fun to explore.
Flash fiction or microfiction is a genre involving very short stories. Despite their brevity, the stories can convey a lot of information and be very effective.
Magnolia flowers and glaucous-winged gulls are interesting to observe. They can both be seen during a spring walk in the beautiful Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia.
A new 3D printing technology called CLIP was announced at a TED conference in Vancouver and is now available. The printed item is created in a pool of liquid resin.
Forsythia is an ornamental shrub that produces beautiful and abundant yellow flowers in late winter and early spring. The plant is named after William Forsyth, an eighteenth-century horticulturist.
Polysorbate 80 is an emulsifier that is added to many foods. Evidence suggests that it may affect bacteria in the intestine and cause gut inflammation.
Many crocuses bloom in the early spring and are a lovely sight. One type makes saffron. The toxic autumn crocus makes colchicine, which can act as a medicine.
The Malayan tapir is an unusual animal with an extensible and mobile proboscis, or mini-trunk. Despite its size and bulk, this endangered animal can move fast.
In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks joints. In chikungunya, a virus infects the body. Both diseases produce joint pain and may sometimes be confused.
Lysozyme is an antibacterial enzyme in body secretions that helps to protect us from infections. It's also present in eggs, where it may cause allergies.
The rainbow eucalyptus is an unusual tree with a beautiful, multicoloured trunk. The trunk's colours change as the tree sheds strips of bark, creating living art.
Antibiotic resistance in bacteria that cause disease is a serious problem. Soil contains many bacteria, some of which may help us by making new antibiotics.
The dragon blood tree of Socotra Island has an unusual appearance. It secretes a red resin called dragon's blood when its bark is injured. The resin is used in many ways.
Two amazing phenomena in nature are the annual migration of millions of red crabs on Christmas Island and the "everlasting" Catatumbo lightning in Venezuela.
Mole and worm lizards are very unusual reptiles. Their elongated bodies resemble those of earthworms. The first lizard has one pair of legs and the second none at all.
Loneliness is a growing problem in some areas. The author Brenda Chamberlain experienced loneliness, as does a protagonist in one of her stories and a character in my poem.
The Borrowers is a children's book about the adventures of tiny people living in secret in a big house. They survive by taking items from the house. Mary Norton was the author.
Some of my favourite childhood memories are of my visits to relatives in Easton, a lively multicultural area in Bristol, England. Banksy's famous graffiti career began there.
Kenneth McKellar was a popular tenor known for his beautiful interpretation of Scottish vocal music. He died in 2010, but his music lives on in many recordings.
Some organizations share advertising revenue with charities when people view their videos. This could be a great way for Internet users to support worthy causes.
A two-faced animal is one individual. The disorder is known as disprosopus or craniofacial duplication. Cats with two faces are called Janus cats. Frank and Louie was a famous example.
The Columbian ground squirrel is an interesting and entertaining animal. A large population can be found in E. C. Manning Provincial Park in British Columbia.
Shortbread is a buttery and delicious biscuit or cookie that is a traditional Christmas treat. It has been associated with some interesting customs throughout its history.
Sergei Prokofiev was a major twentieth-century composer who has left us some beautiful music as a legacy. His compositions were often unusual for his time.
Parkinson's disease involves the death of brain cells that produce dopamine. Stem cell technology might provide a more effective treatment than current methods.
The common raven is an intelligent and interesting bird that plays an important role in folklore. The bird is found in many countries and habitats.
Our skeleton and its bones have vital functions. The skeleton provides support and protection, enables us to move, makes blood cells, stores minerals, and does many other jobs.
Some chrysanthemums produce a chemical called pyrethrin. The chemical is reasonably safe for us and is used to kill head lice. Lice are becoming resistant to pyrethrin, however.
A jack o'lantern is a carved and lighted Halloween pumpkin. It's also a name for the mysterious light that appears near the surface of a wetland.
Traditional poutine consists of French fries, cheese curds, and a brown, flavourful gravy. It's a delicious meal that originated in the province of Quebec.
Some artificial sweeteners may change our gut bacteria population and perhaps cause other problems. Excess sugar intake may cause tooth decay and weight gain.
The bunya pine produces huge and often very heavy cones. Its large seeds are both edible and tasty. The tree has a strange appearance and some unusual features.
The monkey puzzle tree is a strange and very interesting plant that is endangered. It's native to South America but grows as a cultivated plant in other areas.
Humans use cow dung as a fertilizer, a fuel, a building material, and an insect repellent. It's also used to produce a biogas and paper and to play games. Other organisms use the dung as well.
False killer whales are slender black or grey dolphin relatives. They are social and acrobatic animals. A stranded calf named Chester was rescued by the Vancouver Aquarium.
Edible insects are a nutritious food. Farming insects has environmental benefits and will likely become increasingly important as the Earth's population increases.
The Roman Baths complex in the city of Bath, England, is a major tourist attraction. It offers a fascinating look at the lives of Ancient Romans in Britain.
The VanDusen Botanical Garden is located in Vancouver, British Columbia. It contains beautiful plants and lovely scenery that is very enjoyable to explore.
A bite by a lone star tick can cause a red meat allergy in some people. The allergen in meat is alpha-gal. Tick saliva can sensitize a person to this chemical.
Inky cap mushrooms such as shaggy manes become a black, inky liquid in order to disperse their spores. Some contain coprine, which increases the unpleasant effects of alcohol intake.
A hematoma is a swelling filled with blood. If it develops in a dog's spleen, removal of the organ may be necessary to prevent it from rupturing. One of my family's dogs underwent a splenectomy.
Brain freezes or ice cream headaches, cracking the knuckles, and wiggling the ears are strange events. Studying them might help scientists understand other processes in the body.
The Bloedel Conservatory is a beautiful domed garden that contains exotic plants and birds. It's located in Queen Elizabeth Park, another lovely site in Vancouver.
English ivy is an attractive vine that has interesting symbolic meanings. It's part of a rich mythology and has been used in many traditions over the years.