“If all living things were in one food chain, what would be at the top?” asks Chelsea and Ashli (10)

Thanks team. I found a nice little revision site on food chains that you might like to try, find it at Food Chain Game.

Now to your question. Firstly it might be a little difficult putting all living things into one food chain. Secondly do you think it would be humans?  Ecologists (They are scientists who specialise in studying the living environment) rank species by their diets using a metric*  called the trophic level scale. Plants, which produce their own food, are given a rank of 1. Herbivores, which eat only plants, are ranked 2. The fiercest of meat-loving predators, such as killer whales, are rated at 5.5. Humans are rated at 2.5 which is the same level as a pig.

If you want to make a comment please use the box below or you could ask another question.

* metric as a noun means a standard scale of measurement so you could call a temperature scale a metric or any other standard scale of measurement a metric.

(updated 13/9/17 -changed metric to measurement)
(updated 15/9/17 – ‘measurement’ back to ‘metric’ after realising it was the correct word in the context in which it was presented, added addendum explaining it’s use as a noun)

“Am I living?” asked Cloe (7).

Many thanks team. You are right there was a question about clouds  and if they were living. Think about what living means for you and for other things that might be living.

Do you think that plants, rocks, clouds, germs, the air, birds, trees and you are living?  You might not think that a tomato is living BUT does it contain seeds? Think about seeds and what happens to these non-moving, non-growing things. Are they living? So put them in some water and give them some soil, what happens?

Any reader can ask a question or leave a Comment in the Leave a Reply box below

“If a cow ate only strawberries would it’s milk taste like strawberries? was Reginalds (grade 2) question

It is amazing that a cow has four stomachs like sheep and goats. The four stomachs facilitate the process of breaking down the grass into an edible, consumable, foodstuff.  Reginald, I am sorry that I cannot suggest an experiment to test your interesting thought. Most of the strawberry you eat is organic fibre and cellulose in nature. The sugars and flavouring are quite volatile so I would imagine (don’t know) that they would not survive the four stomach processing. I am happy for you to come up with some additional information.

Poonie (9) asked – “Why do cats always land on their feet?”

Poonie, many thanks for your question. Having been a cat owner for the last 20 years I have always been interested in this BUT decided that I did not want to experiment on my 19 year old cat (Marley). I think  I will rely upon other people’s experiments to try and answer your question.

Apparently it’s all to do with, muscular reaction. Somehow they can rotate their body very quickly, within seconds of beginning a fall. I’ll talk my friends about it, and asked if any other animals can do this.

This little video, made using a flicker book, illustrates how the cat changes it’s bodies position as it falls

One of my friends suggested that you should look at cats and the positions that they take in their everyday life so that you can understand how flexible the backbone/spine of a cat is. Record what you see and let us know. Can you position yourself in the same way as a cat does? Possibly in some positions, but what about the other positions?

How do we know what organelles inside a cell looks like? – asks Anne (7th Grade)

How do we know what organelles inside a cell looks like? Anne, a fascinating questions. I have to be honest I have no idea what an organelle is (I am traditionally what might be called a physical scientist) – I know a lot about physics and chemistry but very little about biology and botany. I do have a team who can set me on the trail of answering you question so here goes…..over to you team.

organlles

Thanks team. Some other questions ‘bounce’ around my mind. Why can’t light bounce of the organelles? I then realised that it is thought that light is in fact particulate  in nature. Scientists think that light might consist of particles – called photons. These photons are basically to big to bounce of such a small particle as an organelle. They could bounce off but when you look at them after the bounce they will not be able tell you anything about the thing they bounced off.

As my team suggest electrons are much smaller than photons, so when they bounce of the organelle they will reflect what the organelle at that point looks like. To do this scientists use special microscopes called electron microscopes  that instead of firing light (photons) at the thing they want to look at fire electrons and look at how the electrons have changed after they have bounced of the thing you are looking at.

Anne, hope this makes sense. Thanks for the question. Unsure about what I have said then you can ask another question.

“Where do dogs come from?” – asks Sidrah

evolution2

Thanks for the suggestion. Lets see if I can explain it?

The dictionary definition of evolution is: It is a process of formation or growth. An aeroplane evolves from a collection of its parts. A picture evolves from the actions of a painter. A plant evolves from a seed.

In the biological sciences it has a special meaning as it studies the how and why living organisms change over time.

Living things pass on their traits (characteristics) from one generation to the next. All of us inherit a set of genetic blueprints from our parents. But those blueprints are never copied exactly from one generation to the next. Little changes occur with each passing generation and those little changes can become very big changes over a long period of time. These changes can reshape living things, and biological evolution has then taken place. Look at the video below it shows the changes that resulted in who you are now.

Dogs, like humans were very different millions of years ago.

Have more questions …. then ask another question.

Soham(10) asks – “Why do Chameleons change their colour and how ?”

chameleon

Thanks team, some good answers. On most occasions it is suggested that a Chameleon changes colour for defensive purposes.  It seems that they can do this by changing the tension in their skin. Not something that we can do very easily. For the Chameleon, part of the skin is a compound that can be stretched and it is this compound that changes the light colours that are absorbed by the skin and those that are reflected. Thus the colour change.

Reflection of light of things depends on the material and the light that is falling on it. Suppose green light was shone on a red object in a dark room. Would you see it? Sometimes you can also notice that changing the temperature of a material changes the way it reflects light. Running a hot iron over a red material changes the ‘redness’ of the material because of the effect of the heat on the compound that the red dye is made of. Some experiments that you might try (with the help of an adult).

Brodie asked ‘How do you recognise a baby robin’

 

Nice question Brodie. I asked my friends about this and this is their thoughts ….

Robin1

robin2

So we have an answer and more questions – thank you friends! Can you find the answers yourself? Have a go and let me know. All you need to do is click the reply button below, or ask another question.