Archive for March, 2010


Next time you’re at the grocery store, take a peek at the oranges. One of the most popular types available in many produce sections year-round is the navel orange.

Chances are pretty good that you’ve eaten a navel orange or two yourself. They’re seedless, sweet and juicy. Mmmm! What’s even better is that like other citrus fruits, they’re really good for you. Navel oranges are loaded full of vitamin C, fibre, beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6. That’s a whole lot of good in one tiny little fruit!

But what really makes the navel orange so darn special? There are many, many different kinds of oranges, afterall. Well, not only is the navel orange full of vitamins, minerals and deliciousness, but it’s full of science and history, too!

Believe it or not, every navel orange you’ll ever see originally came from one single plant:  a  mutant tree on a plantation in Brazil in 1820.

  • A mutation is a change in the DNA of a plant or animal.
  • DNA is what makes up a plant or animal’s genes, which carry the instructions needed to determine its characteristics or traits.
  • And genes are passed down from parent plants or animals to their offspring.

Most mutations occur by chance. A mistake happens when DNA is being copied from the parent organisms to make the offspring. Sometimes, a mutation does not affect the plant or animal at all. Other times, it can have a bad affect. And sometimes, a mutation causes a positive change in the plant or animal: like the navel orange.

These new, mutant oranges that suddenly appeared on a tree in Brazil were extremely sweet, juicy, and best of all, completely seedless. They were a hit! But a big reason for their popularity also presented a problem: since they were seedless, farmers couldn’t simply plant seeds to get new  navel orange trees. Instead, they cut buds from that first tree and grafted them on to a regular orange tree so it would grow navel oranges too. Cuttings were taken from the new trees and grafted onto other trees, and so on. Every navel orange in the world today comes from a bud that was grafted from that original tree from Brazil in 1820.

Who knew there was so much more to the navel orange’s story than just its delicious taste!

 

Learn More!

Kids.Net.Au: Mutation

Kids.Net.Au: DNA

Kids.Net.Au: Genes

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A group of alligators is called a congregation.

Hallelujah!

A group of caterpillars is called an army.

Left right left!

A group of crows is called a murder.

In the study, with a candlestick.

A group of dolphins is called a pod.

Two peas.

A group of giraffes is called a tower.

Towering over the land.

A group of  hippopotamuses is called a bloat.

They DO look a little puffy...

A group of hummingbirds is called a charm.

Charming, ain't they?

A group of lizards is called a lounge.

Just lounging around...

A group of mice is called a mischief.

Up to no good!

A group of owls is called a parliament.

Question period.

A group of porcupines is called a prickle.

Ouch!

Learn More!

EnchantedLearning.com: Names of Males, Females, Babies, and Groups of Animals

 

Bioluminescence is light that comes from a living organism, caused by a chemical reaction. The phenomenon is seen in a few land organisms, such as glowing fungus on wood, and insects like fireflies. But it is mostly seen in sea creatures living in the largest habitual place on earth: the deep sea.  

Did you know that 90% of the ocean’s volume is invisible to humans? It extends to such great depths that it is a world of almost complete darkness. In fact, we know more about the moon than the deepest part of our own oceans! In many ways it is more dangerous for humans to explore than outer space. The pressure of all that water (about 10,911 meters or more than 6.5 miles at its deepest point) is incredible.  

You might think that no creature could possibly thrive under such crushing weight and lack of oxygen. In fact, the complete opposite is true. The deep ocean is full of strange sea creatures which have adapted to this volatile environment. About 90% of deep sea life produce bioluminescence as a way of adapting to their dark world.  

There are different reasons for bioluminescence: some deep sea fish use it to lure prey; to scare predators away; to attract a mate; to communicate; or simply to illuminate the surrounding environment.  

Because the deep ocean is so difficult to study, scientists are constantly using new pressure-resistant machines and cameras to discover new sea species that produce bioluminescence. Some say the ocean is the true “last frontier”. Here are a few photos of just a few of the wonderful creatures we have already discovered. 

Crystal Jelly (Photo: Sierra Blakely)

Bathocyroe fosteri (Photo: Marsh Youngbluth)

’Barreleye’ Fish

Learn More!

The Bioluminescence Web Page

  Bioluminescence on Wikipedia.org