Natural History

Week 2: The Song of Nature, theme 1: ORGANISMS
Week 3: The Song of Nature, theme 1: ORGANISMS
Week 4: The Song of Nature, theme 1: ORGANISMS
Week 6: The Song of Nature, theme 2: STORIES
Week 7: The Song of Nature, theme 2: STORIES
Week 8: The Song of Nature, theme 2: STORIES
Week 9: Interlude - To Experience Nature
Week 10: The Song of Nature, theme 3: ENVIRONMENT
Week 11: The Song of Nature, theme 3: ENVIRONMENTS
Week 12: The Song of Nature, theme 3: ENVIRONMENTS
Appendix #1 - Natural History Books
Appendix #2 - Index of Nature Poems
Appendix #3 - Selected Outlines of Living Things

Day 1: Viruses/Archaea/Bacteria

Day 1: Viruses/Archaea/Bacteria

Words

First, let’s get introduced to the viruses with two papers:

Reading: “Giant Viruses in Permafrost” 

Reading: “Plant Virus Attracts Bees

 

Mosquitoes carry many disease microorganisms, including the zika virus. 

Video: “Mosquito – The Ultimate Killer” (10:45)

Archaea are one of two large groups of prokaryotes, many of which live in extreme environments, such as in very hot or very salty environments. They, and other forms of life, can even live deep in the earth, as this paper describes:

Read: “Inner Earth is Teeming with Exotic Forms of Life

 

What used to be called “blue-green algae” are actually not plants at all but cyanobacteria. Bacteria constitute the other group of prokaryotes. Here’s one of three videos we’ll be watching of AMNH researcher Sally Warring’s investigations of pond life (scroll down to watch Episode 2):

Video: “Pondlife 2 – Blue-green Algae (Cyanobacteria) from Pond to Lab (Sally Warring)” (10:19)

 

Works

Go out into nature with some vials or other covered containers with labels, a dropper, a scraping knife, and a fine marker such as a Sharpie. Explore as many places as you can. Find muck, scum, moss, partially rotten material such as leaves, sketchy looking vegetation, water sources, stagnant little pools, soils… Scrape the crevices in bark, the surfaces of lichen or mushrooms, waste slicks or spots… Place each sample in a separate container, and label with a number or key word. Then in your field notes describe the sample as thoroughly and specifically as you can. When you return to home base, get that light microscope out! And your guides to microlife. Moisten and chop up each sample if it is dry or chunky. Soak solid pieces and strain them. Pick up tiny droplets of good-looking liquid and plop them on a slide. Follow directions on the microscope slide preparation kit and get to know your microlife guides. See if you can identify any of the living things you find. Start at very low magnification and work your way up.