You can call me Mono - it's a pleasure to meet you. Here you'll find updates from a Master of Science (Zoology) student at Melbourne University, Australia. This is a mismatch of a place; expect updates from within Uni and from out of it. I post about both zoology and its domestic cousin, animal science, and mix photos and pictures with lengthy discussions.
Today, all my fellow Masters students from the last two years are doing their final thesis presentations.
It’s very exciting for them, but for me it’s a little bittersweet, knowing I was supposed to be there with them originally, and knowing I still have so much to do.
I hope this encourages me to work harder, now, seeing their relief when it’s done.
ambitiontorise said: Hi Mono, Im having issues picking a major. I want to be the daily caretaker of either dogs or exotic animals. Willing to do 4 yrs max to get a degree. A BS in animal science involves the Agri./Food industries to much. Any advice?
Well hi there! :)
This is a really tough question, for a lot of reasons , and not least amongst them is that my knowledge base is from an Australian perspective, which may not be applicable for you. What I can say right off the bat is that, yes, Bachelors in Animal Science are focused on agriculture, but they are also focused on companion animals as well (though to a lesser degree) - animal science is all about domestic animals.
I would consider looking into Zoology as a major, as that will give you a good basis of understanding for how wildlife behave in and out of captivity, and how their physiological systems work, as well as ecology and evolution, which is all very important for a daily keeper to understand.
The bad news is, you might find it tough if you’re only looking at four years of study, as many places I know of require a Masters degree, which is two years on top of your Bachelors. Furthermore, Masters study helps you develop contacts via your research that can help get your foot in the door and get you positions that can help on your career pathway to keeper, so it’s actually really beneficial to do one.
That does not mean you’re out of luck, of course. Many places don’t require graduate study at all. However, you’ll probably need experience with animal handling. I recommend looking into volunteering, and paid positions if you can get them. Apply for animal shelters, get volunteer experience there. Apply to volunteer at conservation parks or zoos , but understand that many of these positions do not include animal handling and may not give you priority for future animal handling positions.
The best thing you can do is get experience, and look at prerequisites and job requirements for positions that interest you, and then work towards those. It’s a long, difficult road to keeper status, but if you work hard then you have a better chance.
Good luck. :)
A slender mola washed up at the research station that I worked at this summer. These fish are gorgeous and are a pelagic fish that rarely come up into our temperate waters. This is another sure sign of an El Niño year here in California
They grow to about a meter which is nothing compared to some of the other members of the molidae family.
This big guy is a Mola mola, also known as an ocean sunfish and they grow to weights over 1000kg!
I DID NOT KNOW THERE WERE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE MOLIDAE FAMILY
grumpypenguin said: Can you explain to me the distinction between Crows and Ravens. I heard a discussion where someone was complaining about the crows in their Melbourne garden and the person told them they are actually a type of Raven and that we don't have Crows in our area. Now you've posted a thing about a Thick-billed Raven which is also being called an African Crow in the same article. I know they are related, but are they the same thing or not?
I will just cannibalize and earlier post about this:
Crows and Ravens?
Okay, so crows and ravens are both members of the genus Corvus.
The larger bodied species of this genus are generally referred to as “raven” and the smaller bodied species are referred to as “crow” (the rook being included with crows).As you have noticed, some species may colloquially/commonly be referred to as either a raven or a crow.
I don’t believe that there are 2 separate lineages here, though some of the species of “raven” may be more closely related to each other than to other species within the genus. I am speaking of general differences between members of this genus called Raven and Crow throughout the world… not just those few species in North America.
And if I may add on to this from a specifically Melbourne perspective -
Yes, the Corvids we see in Melbourne are, typically, ‘ravens’. We are most likely to see the Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides) and the Little Raven (Corvus mellori). The Corvids we label as crows don’t tend to occur around Melbourne (forgive the poor photo - I went to the uni library to grab some quickly):
This is an older book so includes the House Crow, which you should report any sightings of to DEPI.
When it comes to the names, though, the Australian Raven is also just referred to as a crow. The names are, as Paxon says, simply interchangeable, but the recognised common names tend to have Corvids in Melbourne as ravens. The only native ‘crow’, per se, is found in northern Australia.
The WWF and the Zoological Society of London have released a new analysis that shows the earth has lost 50% of its vertebrate wildlife in the last 40 years.
This steep decline of vertebrates was calculated by analysing 10,000 populations of more than 3,000 species. The data was then used to create a ‘Living Planet Index’ (LPI), to reflect the state of all 45,000 known species of vertebrates. And the result is this - in the last 40 years, we have managed to kill 50% of all earth’s known vertebrates. And remember, this analysis didn’t include invertebrates, so the total overall loss could be much, much higher.
The fastest declines are in freshwater ecosystems, where numbers have dropped 75% since 1970. Freshwater rivers often represent the end of a system, where effluent often ends up.
The graph above shows the causes of vertebrate decline based on analysis of 3,430 species’ populations. As it stands, we are cutting down trees for soy, timber, and beef faster than they can grow. We are hunting animals faster than they can reproduce. We are pumping water out of rivers faster than rainfall can replenish them. And we are pumping out carbon faster than can be absorbed (and even then, the absorption of carbon dioxide by oceans is another issue).
David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK said: “The scale of the destruction highlighted in this report should be a wake-up call for us all. But 2015 – when the countries of the world are due to come together to agree on a new global climate agreement, as well as a set of sustainable development goals – presents us with a unique opportunity to reverse the trends.
“We all – politicians, businesses and people – have an interest, and a responsibility, to act to ensure we protect what we all value: a healthy future for both people and nature.”
You guys know I love new species, so here’s a new poison dart frog from Donoso, Panama, Andinobates geminisae.
Originally, it was unclear if this was in fact a new species or rather just a variety of another species, Oophaga pumilio, which has between 15 and 30 colour morphs. DNA sequencing has shown that A. geminisae is indeed a new species, though!
The type specimen (shown in the photo above), used to describe the species, was collected in February of 2011 in the headwaters of the Rio Caño, in the district of Donoso, Colón Province, Panama. It appears this species is only found in a very restricted area, so habitat loss and collection for pet trade are likely to be major risk factors for its ongoing survival.
You can read the abstract for the published article here.
Photo Credit: Cesar Jaramillo | STRI
The Society of Biology's photograph awards Shortlist is out - and the entries are incredible!
These are just some of the amazing photos, including a sea turtle chomping down on a jellyfish in the Maldives, and a Spectral Tarsier clinging to a tree.
Definitely check the rest out here (via The Guardian).
Tansy beetles (Chrysolina graminis) are beautiful iridescent beetles that get their name from the Tansy plant in which they live and eat as both larvae and adults. In the UK, they are currently restricted to about 45 km of the banks of the river Ouse centered in York, North Yorkshire.
Historically, Tansy Beetles were favoured for clothing decorations by Victorians. Competition by invasive plants on the Tansy appears a major contributing factor to their decline.
Photo Credit: Peter Byrne | via The Guardian
Northern Gannets (Morus bassanus) dive for fish in Shetland.
Northern Gannets dive vertically into water at speeds of up to 100 km/hr, so their morphology is adapted to suit this. They have no external nostrils, and their secondary nostrils (which open into the roof of their mouth) can be closed while under water. The same can be done for their auditory canals, which are very small and covered with feathers. Their sternum is long and very strong, and Gannets also possess highly developed lungs and air sacs just under the skin along their chest and sides, which probably help buffer against the force of impact upon hitting the water.
Photo Credits: Richard Shucksmith | The Guardian
A Pacific sea nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens) in the Vancouver Aquarium. The sting of the Pacific sea nettle is often irritating to humans, but is rarely dangerous.