Iâve decided to bring back the Endless Forms Most Beautiful weekly column. It was quite popular with last yearâs students and I accidentally let it fall by the wayside this year. You can see all the previous EFMB posts here.
In an earlier EFMB post I mentioned that deserts are misunderstood as being âlifelessâ when in fact they are âhotbeds of âendless forms most beautifulâ and I used the long-eared jerboa as my example. This time I would like to highlight the Greater Roadrunner.
What surprised me about the roadrunner is that it has well-developed salt glands for excreting salt. This caught my attention because I used to work with seabirds who also have well-developed salt glands. The reason seabirds have salt glands should be pretty obvious. But, why would a desert animal need advanced salt glands? We all know that a big problem in the desert is lack of water. By removing salt from specialized nasal salt glands rather than in urine, the roadrunner is able to reduce water loss.
In what ways does the roadrunner cartoon character fit the characteristics of the actual real-life animal? In what ways does it differ?
Can you think of some examples of when an animal has been helped/harmed from popularization by the media?