The key levels of organization involved in breathing.

Breathing is something an organism can do consciously or sub-consciously.  It’s not questioned, you simply must breathe in order to get oxygen to your body, and you must get oxygen to your body in order to survive.  The advanced mechanisms of breathing, and the gas exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, are more detailed and complex than just letting air in and out..

When a human first inhales, the air enters through the trachea, which is located behind the esophagus.  The trachea is lined with various cilia and mucus, the mucus traps dust particles, while the cilia transfer particles to the pharynx, so that they may be swallowed into the esophagus.

The trachea divides into two bronchi, which then separate into bronchioles.  Like the trachea, bronchi are also lined with cilia and mucus to pick up any remaining particles.  the division continues; the bronchioles are divided into even smaller tubes.  Ultimately the division stops in tiny air sacs called alveoli.

The alveoli are lined with the capillaries for the actual exchange of gases.  The oxygen rich air that was just inhaled, is dissolved into the moist lining within the alveolus.  The surrounding capillaries contain blood with low oxygen (O2) and high carbon dioxide (CO2).  The difference in partial pressure causes the O2 to diffuse into the blood capillaries and the CO2 to diffuse out of the blood capillaries and into the alveoli. exhalation releases CO2 from the body and allows for inhalation of more oxygen.

This advanced mechanism takes place every time you breath.  There are many levels of organization that must function properly in order for this whole process to work.

Hungry and satiety: a deeper look.

It’s natural to feel hungry when you need to refuel your body, or to feel satisfied when you are refueled.  But think deeper, how are we able to feel hunger and satiety?  Various organs, chemicals and mechanisms contribute to the feeling you get when either hungry or satisfied.

Hormones signal the satiety (satisfied)  part of the brain, depending on whether the body needs nutrition, or whether it’s satisfied.  The hormone called Ghrelin, sometimes known as the “hungry hormone” is the chemical released by the stomach when the stomach is empty, and it is continued to be released until the stomach is stretched out or satisfied.  When you miss a meal, and begin to feel hungrier and hungrier, it is when ghrelin is collectively released by the stomach.

What about the feeling of satiety?  The hormone insulin, is released by pancreas when blood sugar is too high, and it actually suppresses the appetite.  Figuratively, insulin is telling the brain that it has consumed too much sugar for now, and sending signals for it to not consume anymore until further notice.

There is another hormone called Leptin.  Leptin is released by adipose (fat) tissue, and this chemical also suppresses appetite.  Levels of leptin are actually decreased with loss of weight, which could explain why it is hard to maintain a diet with the intent to lose weight.

Another important hormone is Peptide YY, or PYY.  PYY is secreted by the small intestine when the organism finishes consuming a meal.  PYY counteracts the effects of ghrelin, and suppresses the appetite.

In conclusion, hunger and satiety are much more than just a growl  in the stomach.  There are a lot of chemicals and mechanisms that signal the brain and tell it what the body needs.



What does it mean for a creature to be intelligent?

On a general day-to-day basis, you encounter a variety of people, each who have a different impact on you.  One of the main factors that determines this impact is their overall intelligence.  What is meant by intelligence?

According to the Oxford dictionary, intelligence is defined as, the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.  So thus, for a creature to be intelligent, that creature must possess the ability to acquire knowledge and skills, and apply them in relevant circumstance.  There are many different classes of animals that have intelligent behavior, and it is a fascinating topic.

One of the most intelligent group of animals are elephants.  Elephants are known for their incredible memory, and they are also known to show sympathy when members of their herd die.  Their sympathetic nature is very human-like.  It is incredible that these animals possess that kind of caring nature.  They are able to learn and use creative skills, such as painting.  They have been significant in agriculture, especially in Africa in ancient times.  They possess unique strength and intelligence, which is fascinating to mankind, but also helpful in the wild.

And probably the most intelligent group in the animal kingdom, are primates, specifically the clade simians.  This group includes monkeys and apes, some of which have similar DNA to humans.  Some species of simians can actually teach each other basic skills, that vary among their different tribes.  Some apes are able to recognize individuals in their group, and they understand the levels of authority within their own community.  They are able to utilize tools in the wild, and also while in captivity.  Most apes are able to communicate to humans, via sign language, which is truly an amazing ability.

The intelligence of animals is a topic that we do not, and really cannot fully understand, but it has been studied for centuries, and will continue to amuse us as we make new discoveries.

Should all the species in phylum Arthropoda be classified under one group?

Arthropoda is the largest phylum in the world, with over 1,000,000 known species.  This group of creatures possess multiple common characteristics that justify them to be classified in the same group.

On the Linnaean scale of classification, phylum is the classification directly below the kingdom classification.  Among arthropods, there are multiple different classes and sub-phyla. Some of these include: crustaceans, insects, and arachnids.  Some common classes of arthropods are lobsters, crabs, beetles, winged insects, etc. Sub-phylum, chelicerata, contains the class arachnid, which includes spiders, ticks and scorpions.

There is tremendous diversity within this phylum, however, they all share a basic body plan. There are variations among different classes and species (and especially the sub-phylum arachnids), but they all follow one basic blueprint.  Each further classification is specialized with different vices, but still share basic characteristics.  What is this body plan? Arthropods have a full body exoskeleton, and jointed limbs, and three separate body cavities: a head, a thorax, and an abdomen. –With the exception of arachnids, that have a joined head and thorax, called a cephalothorax.

As many species as there are within this phylum, one can imagine the incredible diversity of arthropods.  There is so much detail we already know, and there are so many details mankind has yet to discover.

All these species being classified into one group poses the question: should they all be classified in just one group?  Yes, they should all be classified together.  Why?  Because they all share the same basic structure, and engage in similar behaviors.  This body plan gives them similarity, and even though the basic structure varies tremendously, the species all have similar behaviors and metabolic processes.  The body blue print of arthropods preserves the relationship between all the species within the phylum.