Skip to main content

Stories by Jennifer Frazer

MegaGrass Discovered in Mediterranean Marine Meadows

  A lush, rhizomatous seagrass meadow in the Mediterranean. Creative Commons Arnaud-Haond et al. 2012, PLoS One. Click image for link. In the world of gigantic plant and fungus clones, there is no lack of contenders for the title Oldest, Heaviest, and Most Ginormous...

March 1, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer

Mystery of Alaskan "Goo" Rust Solved at Last

Light, sweet, orange goo crude. Last fall the small Alaskan coastal village of Kivalina was inundated by a mysterious orange "goo"(click for photo). Locals and others suspected a toxic algal bloom (see here for image), or perhaps some sort of chemical release, or millions of microscopic "crustacean eggs".Yet just a month later the mystery substance was identified as none other than a plant-parasitic fungus called a rust -- completely harmless to humans and aquatic life, and probably not bad plankton food...

February 29, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer

TGIF: Snails that Fly, or, the Potato Chips of the Ocean

On land, snails and slugs -- the Gastropods -- are confined to terrestrial prison, but in the ocean, they are free to shed their shells and fly. These are the sea angels, the sea butterflies, and the sea elephants -- and probably quite a few more I'm not aware of.For instance, this slinky and mysterious creature is a heteropod ("different foot"), or sea elephant: It's called a sea elephant because of that sausage-esque proboscis it holds aloft...

February 17, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer

The Wild Life of My Doorsill

When I was in North Carolina last month for the meet-and-greet-and-learn-exhausto-freneti-thon of ScienceOnline 2012, I procured for myself a sampling kit for a citizen science project being conducted by the lab of Rob Dunn, Sci Am Guest Blogger and author of the wonderful book The Wild Life of our Bodies.He's doing a new study called "The Wild Life of Our Homes", and for the low, low price of nothing*, I got a sampling kit with two neato dual-pronged sterile Q-tips, instructions, a questionnaire about the characteristics of my pad, and a mailing address to send it back to...

February 10, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer

Proteus: How Radiolarians Saved Ernst Haeckel

Ernst Haeckel around Christmas 1860, when he was 26, the year after he returned from Italy. Ernst Haeckel had spent an unhappy year practicing medicine when his parents finally consented to pay for a year of scientific study and travel in Italy...

January 31, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer

When You Think "Hydrothermal Vents", You Shouldn't Think "Tube Worms"

Riftia pachyptila, the weird, iconic giant of hydrothermal vents. Creative Commons Sabine Gollner et al.; click image for link and license. In 1977, scientists and the world were shocked to discover the first deep-sea hydrothermal vent community at the Galapagos Rift in the eastern Pacific (see a great story on this at NPR here)...

January 4, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer

The Brain-Eating "Amoeba" Strikes Again

Just when you thought the U.S. was safe from amoebas . . . it turns out it's not.This summer saw a micro-burst of brain-eating amoeba attacks (well, only three, but that was plenty for the press to get its panties in a bunch over it...

December 21, 2011 — Jennifer Frazer

Toxic Red Tides Can Attack By Air, Too

The red tide dinoflagellate Karenia brevis. Public Domain, photo by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Last week as I sat in a beach-side open-air restaurant in southwest Florida, I started coughing...

December 12, 2011 — Jennifer Frazer

A Bleeding, Breathing Billboard Starring Serratia

Just days after Sci Am published my story on the "bleeding" bacterium Serratia marcescens , a friend sent me this video, in which the marketing department behind the film "Contagion" up north apparently decided to go super-geek and cook up something delightful...

November 20, 2011 — Jennifer Frazer

Sponges: The Original Animal House

So, you're a bunch of sister-cells looking to get together and form the world's first animal co-op, a place where you and your buddies can all live together in a little socialist utopia and specialize in doing one chore, rather than trying to do everything at once like those foolish, single-celled, rugged-individualist protists...

November 17, 2011 — Jennifer Frazer

A Flower Returns from the Dead

Remember this flower, and the post on the slide show of herbarium sheets at Duke I did a few weeks ago? A short while after I posted it I received an astonishing letter about it from a man named John MacDougal...

November 8, 2011 — Jennifer Frazer
Scroll To Top