Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ants and how big (or small) stuff is

I spent a lot of time today looking at ants marching in the backyard, wondering what the world looked like to an ant. Luckily, my aunt Bebe gave me a great book about ants the last time she came to visit, so I could check it out.



http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0674485262/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_1?pf_rd_p=1535523702&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0674040759&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1H384HXRSXBVB8FT7B5Y#reader_0674485262

It turns out that ants don't really see much at all, and that they find their way around mostly by "smelling" stuff with their antennas. Depending on the species, they can sort of see what direction light comes from, but that's about it. So for an ant, the world is made up mostly of smells and the feeling of touching stuff.

Here is a picture of some ants:


When an ant dies, the other ants are supposed to carry it out of the ant colony and just sort of throw it in the trash. They can tell the ant is dead only because it smells funny. In an experiment I saw one time, a scientist put the smell of a dead ant on one that's alive with a kind of special perfume - and right away the other ants started carrying it out to the garbage heap, even though it was wiggling around like crazy (so that, to us humans anyways, it seemed obviously alive). The other ants were fooled though: for them if it smells dead, it must be dead!

Plus did you know that ants were closely related to wasps and bees? And that in some parts of the world, like Mexico, people actually love to eat ants for dinner? (It seems a bit yucky, but you never know, maybe with some ketchup or something...)

Looking at ants and thinking about ants also got me wondering about how come some things are small and some things are big. Like, compared to an ant, I'm a super giant. But compared to my dad, or to the oak tree in the yard, or to, you know, planet earth, I'm pretty small. So that in a way, size is always a relative thing.

Later I went on the Internet, and I found this awesome website that actually lets you visualize how big and small things are in the universe compared to other things. It also has nice music!

Check it out!

http://htwins.net/scale2/

Anyways, no matter how big or small you are (and even if you eat ants sometimes), I hope you have a great day!

Seeya!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Meerkats!

Okay so, we were in the living room at Penny's house watching a totally boring TV show where people had to, you know, sing songs and stuff, so that some other people could say mean things about them and decide who was the best...

I don't get those shows because the songs are mostly terrible, and they just go on and on, but Penny's mom loves watching this kind of thing, especially while she's fixing supper. And since she's super nice to me (and also makes really awesome lasagna), I guess I don't mind, mostly.

But then, during the commercials, Penny's dad flipped the channel and found a show about some funny-looking animals called meerkats, which I didn't know about, and which, it turns out, are super cute and live in gangs that help each other out.

Here are some pictures of meerkats that I found in wikipedia:




They live in a desert part of Africa, where it's really hot. They spend their time hunting bugs and lizards and snakes and stuff, but they have to watch out for bigger predators like eagles and jackals that can eat them.

What the show explained what that there is always one of the meerkats that goes to the top of a tree or a big rock near where they live and stays on the lookout: he stands on his rear legs and swivels his head around over and over. It looks really funny!

He makes this special sound if he sees anything suspicious. And when the other meerkats hear it, they all scurry underground in the burrow for protection.

As animals, they are really sociable and love to play. They just like to hang out together and the grown-ups teach the kids how to hunt and survive in the desert.

I think they're neat!

Plus, I really like that they are part of the mongoose family, because that gives me the chance to say the word mongoose! (A fun word, I hope you agree...)

They eat mostly bugs apparently, like scorpions and stuff, which seems a bit gross to me, but probably, if you're a meerkat, it tastes just as good as lasagna!

Anyways, here is a link to the meerkat show we were watching, in case you guys feel like checking it out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYiDqzF1yYA

Seeya!