(Not so) Perfect Paragraph 1 (Week of 9/11-9/17)

Submitted by jmazzola on Fri, 09/15/2017 - 14:17

       An organism, presumed to be a mealworm or some other kind of insect larvae, was observed in a 2 inch plastic cup. In attempt to identify the organism, all details and behaviors were explored. The subject was definetly alive and well, immediately starting to move around to explore it’s new environment. The actual movements are not very fast, and it would seem that it cannot climb up vertically. However, it does seem to be fine crawling around and over objects in it’s way. The body is a light yellowish tan in color and somewhat translucent, with the presumed “head” being a darker brown. One is able to see what appears to be a small mouth area at the “head”, where it appears to have tiny pinchers. It’s body seems to have three primary sections to it, with a faint long line down the middle, on the dorsal/top side. The subject was measured to be about 2 cm in length, and 0.7 cm wide at the middle. It also has quite a few sets of appendages that are spread out along the bottom of it’s body. A total of six appendages were counted in the front closest to it’s presumed head, a total of eight in the middle, which were of different appearance and so possibly different structure than the first grouping. The middle grouping was interesting, as they also appeared to be retractable. At the back, there may be third type of appendage but it was the most set apart from all to them in appearance so it was unclear. The overall bottom/ventral side of it’s body is a more pale color, and when rolled onto it’s side the insect is very capable of rolling back onto it’s appendages. Not too many insect larvae carry this characteristic, most usually have very limited options for movement presumably because it is not needed. So it would appear that while most of the observable aspects of the insect are generic, there a few unique features, like it’s decent mobility, which might assist in the identification of the organism.


(I apologize for this not being so smooth, I haven't written in awhile! - but thats what comments are for!)

Methods Project Introduction

Submitted by jgcahoon on Fri, 09/15/2017 - 12:59

There are many different trees on the UMass campus and each one of them are unique in their own way. There is one species of tree that I bet most people here at UMass Amherst didn’t know was present on campus. The tree I am referring to is the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides Taxodiaceae), located behind Morrill 3. This type of tree is usually associated with the west coast, so finding one of these at UMass opened my eyes. At this location, there are three redwoods all next each other, and they all have their signature red-brownish color and are tall. I chose to focus on this organism because it is easy to locate and should be easy to replicate since the tree can’t move. I have also never seen this type of tree before and have always wanted to, so it should be an interesting organism to use for this project. 

perfect paragraph 1

Submitted by danielcosta on Fri, 09/15/2017 - 12:51

My cup contained a maggot in its larval stage. The soft body, divided into three different segments, was of a cream color. The head was brown and harder than the rest of its body. At a close look, short, slim strands of sensory hairs protruded from various spots all over its body; its head contained two sensory hairs coming right out of the front of it, which it used to feel all over the ground in order to sense its next movements or signs of danger. On the dorsal side of the creature's body was a transparent line that ran from the anterior to the posterior sides of it. This barely noticable sliver would seemingly pulsate every second, going in and out of vision, mimicking a heartbeat. I presume this was the creatures main blood transportation system. The creature was calm, for the most part, not moving much. It would stick to the edge of the cup and keep its body curled into a hooked-shape, curling the bottom segment of its body up towards its front half. The body would move in a wave-like motion when the creature moved forward. It would stick its back legs into the ground for traction and then roll the other segments of its body up until it was fully elongated and moving. At this length, it measured about 29mm. The small creature would make the perfect snack for various species of small birds. 

Information Literacy

Submitted by sbrewer on Fri, 09/15/2017 - 11:44

Work in pairs. Each pair should follow a link, briefly discuss, and be prepared to report on the reliability, validity, and trustworthiness of the site. How do you assess these characteristics?

Rough Draft

Submitted by dalon on Fri, 09/15/2017 - 10:26

Neurotransmitter messaging systems are crucial to our understanding of how neurotransmitters affect responses of different systems. Phagocytosis is one system that is affected by neurotransmitter messaging. Phagocytosis is the process through which membrane bound vacuoles pinch off and transport food throughout the cell of organisms. One such organism that utilizes the mechanism of phagocytosis is Tetrahymena.  Tetrahymena are single celled protozoans that are useful in labs to be used as model organisms. When Tetrhymena encounter food particles, they use their cilia to move the food into their grooves and then through the process of endocytosis, the membrane bound vacuoles pinch off in a similar mechanism to what is described above.

Methods Project

Submitted by msgordon on Thu, 09/14/2017 - 22:07

I would like to focus on something fairly unique for my methods project. The first organisms that come to mind are the koi and the flora inside the Durfee Conservatory. The fact that both of them are stationary make them prime candidates for this project as it would be easily replicable. This is important since picking more motile or migratory organisms such as insects or birds would make this project exceedingly difficult if not impossible to replicate. Another possible avenue would be to decide on observing any number of the beautiful trees on campus, for the same reasons as above.

Electricity of life

dthaley's picture
Submitted by dthaley on Thu, 09/14/2017 - 21:37

The profound chemical interactions that take place in all life great or small, one could easily state that chemistry is the electricity of life. In part without an overwhelming number of chemical reactions taking place in one cell alone. Nevermind trillions of cells simultaneously, reducing, adding, and rearranging chemicals and molecules all in the name of maintaining homeostasis of an organism.                                

What is an enzyme? An enzyme is a type of protein, what is a protein made of? Most proteins are made up of polypeptides, sometimes multiple. Polypeptides are chains of amino acids held together by peptide bonds. These amino acids are but molecules, molecules are chemicals held together through chemical interactions. Chemicals are then just atoms, the smallest unit of the foundation of life.


Perfect Paragraph 1

Submitted by dwiley on Thu, 09/14/2017 - 20:45

The organism observed in class appeared to be a type of larva. It was about 2.5 cm long, in yellow segments, and culminated in a hard red head. Feelers exctended from its front, and seeing that the larva did not have eyes, these feelers were assumed to be used for sight in their place. Though larva are insects and therefore invertebrate, the organism had a thin stripe down its back. Perhaps it was the begginings of a notochord. At first the larva moved slowly towards the wood shavings left in the cup, seemingly because the shavings were a food source. However, over time, the larva stopped moving and remained around the edges of the cup. Soon, to test the larva's movement patterns, a slice of paper was inserted into the cup. The larva was poked, however it did not react. A few minutes later it began to climb up the slice of paper, which allowed detailed observation of its locomotion. In order to move the larva scrunches its body and ripples the bunch forward until the head moves forward. A very interesting point arose regarding its hind legs, in that they are primarily used for suction and do not move. The larva attatched itself to the slip of paper and clung to it even when suspended in air, confirming this observation.

Methods Project

Submitted by bmoreau on Thu, 09/14/2017 - 20:29

I am starting to plan my couse of action for the methods project. The first step is to choose the location and organism that I wish to make a multi-panel presentation about. Here at Umass Amherst we are lucky to be surrounded by a lot of nature and natural beauty. There are so many organisms to choose from. As of right now I am planning on studying and observing the beautiful and big willow tree on University Dr. Across from the big parking lot. I could easily lay on the grass next to it all day, just watching. Willows are my favorite trees and I also think that someone else would enjoy following my methods and observing this organism too. 

Maggot Observation

Submitted by cberg on Thu, 09/14/2017 - 14:52

The bug is hairless and wingless and seems as though it may metamorphasize in later stages of developmetn. It seems to curl into a ball for protection, and does so in response to movement of the cup that it is in. It is clinging onto a pieve of material that is in the cup with it. The material is comparable to the string-like pieces that you find underneath an orange peel, but its identification is unclear and I cannot determine whether the bug is eating it or jsut wrapping itself around it. 

So far the bug has only stayed in the indernation surrounding the perimeter of the cup. It has not crawled out towards the middle of the cup, and I assume this behavior is instinctual, because of the protection that the wall of the cup offers over the vulnerability of the open center of hte cup. Most of the time, the bug does not move its body in a manner that leads to any displacemetn. Rather, it moves only its head and front-most body segments in a rotational motion. Its head repeadetly circles both leftwards and rightwards, and up and down. The bug seems to be gathering information about its surroundings, and searching for environmental stimuli, yet it is interesting that it makes no changes to its behavior or position even after long periods of doing so. Maybe this is because the cup contains neither threatening stimuli that the bug needs to move away from nor appealing stimuli that the bug is attracted towards. I would be interested to see how quickly the bug's behavior and motion would change if foor or a predator were introduced into the cup. I wonder how long the bug would continue to perfomr the rotational movement of its head before it picked up on the newly introduced stimulus. Maybe the reason behind the head movement does not involve environmental sensing at all, and the bug is instincually programmed to exhibit this motion for a different reason altogether. 

The bug is about 20mm in length, but rarely is found in its fully extended conformation. Rather, it is often bent or curled in a postion that seems to offer it more shelter and less suface-area exposure to the external environment. This position seems reasonable for the bug to adopt because it appears that its body is made of a soft material that would not offer it much protection on its own. The bug does not have any sort of shell or hard exoskelton. Its lack of wings also limits the bug in how quickly it could escape from potential threats. Therefore, it seems as through staying tightly coild is the bug's best defense mechanism. 


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