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Superior Edge is a great volunteer program within the Center for Student Enrichment. We will be sharing quotes from students who have either finished one of the four edges; Leadership, Citizenship, Real World and Diversity, or they’ve completed all four edges and have earned the Superior Edge. Up next is Teressa Savastano, an alumni from Taylor, Michigan who completed the Superior Edge:

Teressa: The activity that had the most impact from this edge was my research project I conducted in Zambia. By participating in this project, it showed me that I have what it takes to succeed in this field and how absolutely fun it is. I have always felt three steps behind because of where I grew up but by becoming involved and putting myself out there I proved that I can do this and that I belong in this field. This trip has also opened up so many opportunities for me in careers moving forward and I am forever grateful to have been a part of it.

Teressa: Going forward in life I will take all these activities I have done and continue to draw from their experiences. This program not only made me realize all the ways I can market myself to future employers but also how well rounded I am as a person. … This program has given me a one up on any new application I may be filling out in the future.

Teressa: Completing the Superior Edge has given me the confidence to keep moving forward in my career. It has shown me all the opportunities available if I just simply look for them. It has also made me take a step back and reflect on the things I am doing. By slowing down and taking a wider look at the impact an activity has made on me, I have become open to so many new views. … One of the greatest things Superior Edge has given me was the chance to find my place. Through all the different opportunities this program offers, I was able to branch out and try new things. … My favorite thing about Northern is the amount of opportunities available for students. You simply have to go for it.

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Skilled diggers, an aardvark can dig up to 2 f (.6 m) in 15 seconds, according to the African Wildlife Foundation.

While foraging in grasslands and forests aardvarks, also called “antbears,” may travel several miles a night in search of large, earthen termite mounds. A hungry aardvark digs through the hard shell of a promising mound with its front claws and uses its long, sticky, wormlike tongue to feast on the insects within. It can close its nostrils to keep dust and insects from invading its snout, and its thick skin protects it from bites. It uses a similar technique to raid underground ant nests.

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Something that really bothers me is that mermaids are always depicted with mammalian, horizontal tail fins, but are referred to as half fish. They’re half human so we can assume they’re mammals. They’d likely have dolphin, porpoise or whale-tails.

It would be even cooler if there were both kinds of mermaids, fish and mammal. You’d have mako shark mermaids in tropical water, salmon mermaids in the Arctic, then mammalian mermaids as well. Maybe the mammalian mermaids would be stockier and the fish mermaids would get crushes on them because they’ve got nice muscles.

I love mermaids

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You can’t show that. You really can’t show intention in animal behaviour, that’s why anyone insisting you can and that crows “have been shown to show gratitude” don’t know what they’re talking about and don’t understand ethology. There are no studies that show this.

There are anecdotal reports of this gift-giving behaviour: known as “gifting” though it’s a behaviour that isn’t well studied and it’s a behaviour corvid’s seem to only show to humans. Not to a prey-animal coughcough.

The fact that this behaviour isn’t shown in wild crows, only shown towards humans, can’t be replicated well in a lab-setting and is something that isn’t reported very often leads most ethologists to believe it isn’t crows leaving gifts for humans but probably an accident.
This rather could actually be the birds loosing interest in an object and leaving it behind, only for a human to project their emotions onto the animal and reward them for the behaviour (more food), effectively teaching the crows to keep bringing random objects for more food. 

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Made this monstrosity collage for my art-req design class 😭😂

Prompt: “Using a random noun generator, pick two nouns, combine them, and design an object based on the combination.”

Nouns: Zoologist + Gauntlet = “The Zoogauntlet”

(Of course I immediately picture Thanos as an exhausted zoologist)

I had to draw the gauntlet (yikes), but just looking at this kills me 😂😂😂

(Note: the gauntlet illustration is mine, but all other images in this collage were obtained via public use image search on google.)

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I think that pigeons are cool! Many people don’t like them and think that they are dirty and all they can do is popping all over the city 💩 But did you know that they have amazingly good sight? They are better at 3D perception than we are. They can rotate in their mind very complicated 3D geometrical shapes and they can tell that it is the same shape that they learned to recognize before, just turned around. And they can do that witch much more complicated shapes than humans! 🧠🕊️🌁 T.B.C.

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We set up nest boxes for the mice to live in. They’re wooden boxes kind of like birdhouses, but with the openings in the back instead of the front. If a mouse has a litter in our nest box, we’re able to tag the babies and record who their mother is, which is valuable information for our research.

Of course, to every other animal that can fit in the entrance,

A man smirking at a camera, captioned with the words "It\'s free real estate".

This means we often find things in the nest boxes that aren’t supposed to be there, some more alarming than others. An incomplete list of Nest Box Squatters:

  • Entire ant colonies
  • Spiders the size of my palm
  • Cockroaches
  • A snake, having recently eaten (oops)
  • A litter of baby flying squirels

And today, THIS:

A man smirking at a camera, captioned with the words "It\'s free real estate".
A man smirking at a camera, captioned with the words "It\'s free real estate".

I know what you’re thinking, but no, this is not an Asian giant hornet. My best guess is that it’s a queen European hornet (Vespa crabro). She was trying to establish a new nest inside our nest box. My colleague and I froze for a solid minute while she flew around us, then called backup. We were able to remove the nest she had started, but lord she had me scared for a hot minute.

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When Parrots vocalize, it sounds like they’re saying words, but what they’re actually doing is mimicking. So a lot of times people think that parrots can talk, when what they’re actually doing is mimicking the words from their flock. In the cases that the parrots are hanging around humans, their flock is us so they mimic our words.

A neat fact that most people don’t know is that Parrots actually have bones in their tongues so its easier to hold, turn and manipulate their food.

A way you can help Parrots is to make sure your lumber is from sustainable sources. Make sure its rainforest certified, that its safe and that it wasn’t harvested illegally and look for paper products that have the FSC logo.
That really saves their habitats because those trees are their homes and anything to help the trees is to help the parrots.

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Three mice, each in their own clear plastic chamber. The chambers are sealed at each end.

My research, tl;dr: the lab is studying which physical and behavioural traits best predict reproductive success in wild white-footed mice. One of the physical traits we look at is basal metabolic rate (BMR).

Put simply, BMR is the amount of energy it takes to keep an organism alive - not active, but alive. Since larger animals consume more energy total, BMR is often measured in energy per gram (or kilogram, or ton) of animal. That way, we can look at which animals “run” themselves most efficiently.

Three mice, each in their own clear plastic chamber. The chambers are sealed at each end.

One way to measure BMR is with respirometry. Most animals use aerobic metabolism - they use oxygen to create energy from glucose. Because animals consume oxygen to make energy, the amount of oxygen they breathe is directly related to how much energy they are producing and using up.

In a respirometer like this one, mice are kept in chambers that have oxygen flowing through. The concentration of oxygen is measured before and after the air passes through the mouse chamber. That way, we can tell how much oxygen the mouse has consumed.

It may look a little frightening for the mice, but they don’t mind it - most actually fall asleep during respirometry!

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