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The Emperor Scorpion’s New Groove: Choreographed by Dylan the Scorpion King

Hello loyal subjects!  Your Scorpion King is back with another update.

First I’ll some news from the homeland-more scorpions have joined the family!  There are now a pair of Red Claw scorpions (named for their large, reddish tinted claws) among my 8-legged roommates.

Dinner time! Here’s a video I got of my Red Claw chowing down on a cricket


Cort continues his Optogenetics Odyssey in this week’s installment of “Pretty Fly for a White Guy”

Hello, again. I’m Cort, the fly guy (I also do research with fruit flies) at Backyard Brains.

Since the last time I posted I’ve made significant progress in my research! IT WORKS!!!

In the above video what you’re seeing is one of the flies I’ve bred having its proboscis extension activated with an LED. Optogenetics works! Now that I have it work, I’ve been busy playing with the new “flyscope” and raising more transgenic (organism with dna put into it from another organism, in this case the light sensitive protein) flies for my experiments. In order to breed the flies that I need, I had to dive straight into a world of genetics and Fly husbandry. I spent quite a bit of time at the University of Michigan Shafer lab learning about Drosophila (fruit flies) and how to raise them.


Fly husbandry is pretty intimidating at a glance, but once you break past the complexity it really isn’t so bad. It’s common knowledge that most complex organisms undergo a process called “recombination” during meiosis (when sex cells or “gametes” are formed in the body). One of the main reasons that scientists love using fruit flies to conduct genetic experiments is (more…)

Cockroach Nascar: More Than Left Turns! Olivier’s Project is Ramping Up!

Hey, it’s Olivier*! Since I last posted a few developments have occured. First off, I have excelled in the surgical prep portion of my project so much so that I am able to perform two surgeries within the span of an hour and then I can give them a two hour rest so that I can run experiments in the afternoon. It’s all about efficiency! *(Editor’s Note: aka Welcome to the O-Zone)

Speaking of those experiments I finally achieved forward movement of the cockroaches using a function generator! A function generator is this magical box which sends electricity at a desired frequency, amplitude, pulse duration, and pulse width; the flow of electricity can also be sent out continuously or in short bursts. I made a breadboard circuit to help control the stimulation from the function generator to the cockroach so that I can control which cerci are activated. In the case of forward movement it’s both cerci that are stimulated. A white three-pronged leash attaches to the electrode (white glove like cable, instead of the bluetooth backpack) and to the breadboard (rectangular structure with wires protruding from it). If anyone is wondering the KitKat IS necessary for an organism’s sustenance… just not the cockroach’s… I need a break every once and awhile…