Saturday, September 23, 2017

THE SHOCKING SECRET OF THE ELECTRIC EEL



Some scientists let their curiosity make them do truly weird experiments. Meet Ken Catania. He studies strange-looking creatures, such as the star-nosed mole and its unusual way to smell underwater. More recently, Catania has been focusing on electric eels, and their ‘shocking’ abilities.


https://www.amazon.com/Shocking-Secret-Electric-Secrets-Revealed/dp/0766087263/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1506200481&sr=8-1

He discovered that eels can control how much electricity they put out. They use low voltage pulses to sense for prey, and they can turn up the power to make prey (think of fish) twitch or go numb. That was fascinating, but then Catania came across an 1800s illustration and an odd South American story from famous explorer Alexander von Humboldt. Humboldt wrote of eels attacking a group of horses that had stepped into a pool where the eels lived.

“The aggressive behavior of the eels, taking the offensive against the horses, seems the most fantastic and questionable part of the story,” he said.

Just when scientists thought they knew all there was to know about electric eels, here comes an old tale that makes them wonder. Can eels really jump out of the water? Catania had to solve the mystery and so he did using props shaped like alligator heads and human arms, and electric connections to see with his own eyes whether eels in his lab could jump as Humboldt’s allegedly did. 

The Shocking Secret of the Electric Eel book also includes four more secrets: how parrot fish don’t let the sea bugs bite, the jumping spider’s amazing ‘hairy’ hearing, the mystery of European eels and their heads (these are much smaller that the electric eel and won’t shock you), and the secret of the underwater night hummers. 

May I entice you with more animal secrets? I invite you to visit my website to explore the other titles of this series.

Coming up soon: Teacher’s Guides for Animal Secrets books!
Follow me on Twitter @RodriguezAMaria
Contact me! I am available for school visits, conferences and science talks at your event!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

WHAT IS THE SECRET OF THE SCUBA DIVING SPIDER?

Meet the scuba diving spider! A one-of-a-kind, air-breathing animal that spends most of its life underwater. How does it do it?


THE SECRET OF TEH CUBA DIVING SPIDER...AND MORE!


No bigger that your thumbnail, the scuba diving spider triggered the curiosity of scientist Roger Seymour since he was a young boy. At 10 years old, he read Erna Pinner’s book, Curious Creatures.  He told me, “One of the chapters described the diving bell spider that lived in ponds in Europe. I imagined what it would be like to live inside an underwater bubble.” That image remained in Seymour’s mind until he became a scientist and studied the spider’s secret.

Seymour teamed with scientist Stefan Hetz and together they made a home for the spiders in aquariums in the lab, and observed and measured their activities. They discovered how the spiders achieve this unique and quiet lifestyle. It has worked well for the spiders; it allows them to remain out of sight from predators, trap food, and create an underwater home for them to grow and have a family. 

The spider, too, has an amazing name, Argyroneta aquatica, which means “aquatic spinner of silver.” 

TheSecret of the Scuba Diving Spider book also includes four more secrets: the secret of the not-so-quiet caterpillar, why bats jam with each other, zombie beetles, really?, and the secret of the unstoppable cockroach. 

If this book appeals to you, may I entice you with more animal secrets? I invite you to visit my website to explore the other titles of this series.

ATTENTION TEACHERS AND EDUCATORS
Coming up soon: Teacher’s Guides for Animal Secrets books!

Follow me on Twitter @RodriguezAMaria
Contact me! I am available for school visits, conferences and science talks at your event!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

New Animal Secrets Are on Their Way



August 15 is a date to celebrate. New Animal Secrets Revealed! books will be available both in library binding and paperback formats. Here is one of the covers hinting at the topic of one of the five chapters; birds are smart. 



We have heard of Alex the parrot, and some of you probably read Stephanie Spinner’s book. We have all heard of crows' amazing abilities to solve problems. Animal Secrets books dig on recent scientists’ investigations to discover what is so special in some birds’ brains that helps them solve problems or learn skills we thought they could not.

I have also updated my website, and I hope you will visit to peek at the book covers of the other books in the series. They all include a hands-on activity connected to the topic of one of the chapters.  I had a lot of fun researching and writing these books. I hope children enjoy reading them!
Ana