12 Facts Only Biology Majors Would Love

You know when you think something is really cool and your non-science friends don’t get it? We get it.

1. Plankton shouldn’t exist.

The competitive exclusion principle makes “the plankton paradox” very real – the little dudes should have killed each other off and created a superplankton race by now. Instead they’re just coexisting in tininess without a care in the world.

2. Female alligators are born when it is cold.

Alligator gender is determined by the temperature of the area in which the egg is nested – but you already knew that, didn’t you?

3. The number 10^27 is called an octillion…

And you should care because the average adult body is made of 7 octillion atoms! Also because you can say the word octillion and not sound too pretentious since you can actually define it.

4. Red blood cells lack a nucleus, DNA, and organelles.

And they have a short life span: about 120 days.

5. Armadillos and humans are the only animals that are susceptible to leprosy.

The leprosy bacterium is difficult to culture and armadillos have a body temperature of 34°C, similar to human skin. COOL!

6. Vampire bats are adorable sweethearts.

Yes! Vampire bats commonly regurgitate blood (mmm) to share with unlucky or sick roost mates that have been unable to find a meal, often forming a buddy system. D’awww.

7. Kangaroo rats can last longer without water than camels can.

Because they adapted to living in low water environments by evolving the ability to utilize their metabolic byproducts to meet their water requirements, duh.

8. Coughing and sneezing is SERIOUS BUSINESS and should not be taken lightly.

A virus or bacteria that causes its host to develop coughing and sneezing symptoms has a great survival advantage – it is much more likely to be ejected from one host and carried to another. So yes, freak out when your friend sneezes. Run away!

9. Land plants evolved from a single type of algae.

The tremendous diversity we see in land plants today, from mosses to redwoods and orchids, all descended from a single common ancestor that colonized land more than 400 million years ago. So that’s kind of awesome.

10. Chimpanzees in the Fongoli savanna sharpen sticks to use as spears when hunting.

This is considered the first evidence of systematic use of weapons in a species other than humans. Terrifying? Cool? Science!

11. Helianthus anomalus is a naturally occurring hybrid species of sunflower.

And in a lab, when H. annus and H. petiolaris are crossed, a similar hybrid results but has only 5% fertility. After several generations fertility in the hybrids increased and the genetic composition of the hybrids in the lab resembled that of wildly occurring H. anomalus! (Try to hold back your nerdy exclamations – people can hear you.)

12. Post-synaptic firing occurs when enough energy volleys in from a pre-synaptic cell.

Imagine trying to lift a 250kg motorcycle into the bed of a truck. If you get 5 of your friends to help you, you are essentially mimicking spatial summation and the combined efforts of everyone are able to overcome the energy of activation to get the bike into the truck. Science in real life, guys.

Next time you’re agonizing over a biology midterm, remember: you love this stuff. And don’t worry, you can get affordable study tools that will keep you sane enough to keep that bio love going.

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