Learn node: Butterfly brains, journeys and birth to observe online

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Posted on 18th January 2008 by Judy Breck in biology | brain

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In this learn node illustration you are seeing structure inside a Monarch butterfly brain. It is from a research article in PLOS Biology on what may underlie sun compass navigation, shown on this page in Figure S10. CRY2 RNA Distribution in Monarch Brain. If the circadian clock mechanism of butterfly brains seems too detailed for what you want to learn or teach now, you could find less specialized material in the latest news on Monarch Butterfly migration and Journey North. Each of these butterfly sources provides links to other good materials about these beautiful insects. So does this Wikipedia Monarch butterfly article, which includes a reference to the video below of a Monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. Within the brain of the emergent baby butterfly is the RNA that science is learning will inform his flight north, guided by the sun. All of these materials are open, free, richly connected nodes in the global learning commons.


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Learn Node: Journey with the Whopping Crane migrations

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Posted on 20th October 2007 by Judy Breck in animals | biology | ecology | sciences

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whooping crane chick journey north
The bird in this learn node is Crane #722 who is now participating in her first Journey South. She hatched on May 21, 2007 and is a member of 2007 Autumn Release Group III of captive-born whopping cranes who this fall are on their 1st migration, led by ultralight planes . She is part of the Journey North Whooping Crane adventures in which new online participants (you) are invited to take part. The wonder of the many Journey North global studies of wildlife migration and seasonal change in which many thousands of students and nature enthusiasts have participated for more than a decade is that their subjects are real. You can, for example, visit the Journey North monarch butterfly migration map to see where the great winged beauties have been sighted this fall as they are moving toward Mexico to winter there.

Crane #722 is playing a role in efforts to reestablish whooping cranes, who had almost become extinct in the 20th century. We are learning from her more general lessons about migration of birds. For more on that, there is a student project on The Mystery of Bird Migration in these MIT engineering class materials and even more in this lecture on migration and navigation.

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