ChemEd 2013
Brian Rohrig
Metro Early College High School
Columbus, OH
[email protected]
How many species of
living things on earth
(not counting bacteria)?
8.7 million
1. Largest living organism?
Honey Mushroom in eastern Oregon—
measures 10 square kilometers with
an average depth of 1 meter.
Volume in cubic meters?
2. Heaviest animal?
Great Blue Whale
(190,000 kg)
How many tons?
a. 20
b. 200
c. 2000
d. 20,000
How many tons?
b. 200
3. Mass of the world’s
smallest bird in grams—the Bee
Hummingbird of Cuba?
1.8 grams
4. The world’s largest egg
is from what bird?
Elephant Bird
(30 cm by 20 cm)
What is the volume of this egg?
“The shape of an egg can be
thought of as two halves of
ellipsoids with different radius
dimensions. One has radii of
A, A, and B; the other has
radii of A, A, and C. The
volume is given by the
formula: (1/2)(4π/3)A2B +
= (2π/3)A2(B+C)
= 2/3 п 102 (30) = 6300 cc
5. The largest egg laid by a
living bird is from the . . .
Mass of an ostrich egg . . .
1.5 kg
One ostrich egg is
equivalent to ______
chicken eggs.
Why do penguins have
solid bones?
Penguins primarily feed on . . .
which live . . .
Rainbow Trout (fresh water)
What is the density of this fish,
while staying in one place
Yellow Tang (salt water)
What is the density of this fish,
while staying in one place
Does this fish weigh 21 kg?
Swim bladder comprises
approximately 5% of total volume of
fish in salt water species, but 7% in
fresh water species.
Because the swim bladder lies below the
dense backbone, the center of buoyancy is
usually just below the center of mass,
which is why fish go “belly up” when they
Distended stomach of grouper
If fish caught in deep water, swim
bladder expands on way up and
ruptures, releasing gas into body
Columbian Shark
What do you think the density
of this shark is?
Specific Gravity : 1.005 - 1.010,
saltwater as adults (1.020 - 1.025)
Sharks lack a swim bladder, but
compensate with an extremely large liver
filled with oil, 85% of it being squalene—
a polyunsaturated liquid hydrocarbon
(C30H50) with a specific gravity of .858
Ion Replacement:
“Some marine invertebrates, such as squid
and shrimp, replace heavier ions with
lighter ones.
For example, some species replace
Sulfate (96 u) ions with chloride (35.5 u)
ions. [Seawater (with sulfate) has a density
of 1.026, but the same concentration of
NaCl has a density of
1.020] Still other species
replace sodium (23 u)
ions with ammonium
(17 u) ions.”
/OEB191_buoyancy.pdf )
“A vacuole inside the
Antarctic marine
Calanoides acutus
changes its density
and buoyancy by
having a wax ester
that changes from a
liquid to a solid at the
cold temperatures.”
“The mobile foot of the
aquatic violet snail
creates a raft by
collecting air bubbles
and enveloping them in
mucus.” (
Diving Bell Spider
Net diffusion of O2 into bell and CO2
out – due to differences in partial
"As the spider consumes oxygen from the air
in the bell, it lowers the oxygen
concentration inside. The oxygen can
decrease below the level of dissolved oxygen
in the water, and when this happens, oxygen
can be driven into the bubble from the
Adaptations to high pressure:
Lack of swim bladders and
other air-filled spaces, to avoid
compression and the bends.
Liquids cannot be compressed
High pressure distorts complex
biomolecules, such as proteins
and cell membranes.
Used by food companies to
sterilize food: High Pressure
Processing (HPP) uses pressures
up to 5500 atm to kill
High pressure sterilizers utilize high
pressure hydraulic fluids, typically water,
at moderate temperatures to
sterilize food and beverage products.
• Some deep-sea organisms contain
"piezolytes" (from the Greek "piezin"
for pressure) to withstand high pressure
• These large biomolecules are not
distorted under high pressure
• A common piezolytes is
trimethylamine oxide (TMAO) ,
which produces the “fishy” smell of fish
• The deeper the depth of the fish, the
more “fishy” they tend to smell!
Grenadier or rattail fish
Gigantism common in
deep-sea creatures
Giant Squid – up to 13 m long
Giant Isopods (up to 76 cm long)
King of herrings oarfish – up to 11 m long
(unconfirmed up to 17 m)
World’s largest bony fish
Giant amphipod recently discovered at depth
of 7000 m near New Zealand – 33 cm long
Up to 2.4 m long –
live near hydrothermal vents
Can whales get the bends?
Bioluminescence or cold light –
using chemical reactions to produce
According to scientists from
NOAA, 90% of animals
in waters below 500 m
exhibit bioluminescence!
Bioluminescence is generated by
an enzyme-catalyzed
chemoluminescence reaction, in
which the pigment luciferin is
oxidized by the enzyme
Edith Widder: “The weird,
wonderful world of
bioluminescence” TED talk
Fireflies use nitric
oxide to control
their flashes. NO
to briefly shut
down, which
releases a pulse
of oxygen that
triggers an
enzyme to turn on
Fireflies flash faster in warmer weather,
since photocytes are same temperature
as surroundings, since fireflies
are cold-blooded. In warmer water,
less activation energy required to initiate
the reaction and reaction rate is faster.
• To determine temperature in degrees F,
count number of field cricket chirps in 15
sec and add 37.
• For degrees C, count number of chirps in
8 seconds and add 5
• As outside temp. increases, so does
metabolism of cricket
Published in article by Amos
Dolbear in 1897 entitled
“The cricket as a Thermometer.”
Which piece of copper wire
would heat up the fastest?
Bergmann's Rule (introduced by
German biologist Carl Bergmann in 1847):
Cold-climate animals tend to be larger and
stouter than animals living in hot or dry
African elephant
Asian elephant
Have control over
dilation and
constriction of blood
vessels in ears –
dilates blood vessels
in ears when hot
Evaporative Cooling
• Blood vessels on surface of thin tongue
dissipate heat by evaporation of saliva on
• Sweat glands between pads on paws
American hairless terrier
has sweat glands all
over body –
sweats just like a person
• Sweat glands on tongue
and pads of feet
• Licking their fur – cools as
Ostriches urinate on legs to cool downit then evaporates like sweat
Turkey vultures defecate on legs
to keep cool
Hibernating animals survive by
increasing solute concentration
in cells, causing a freezing point
Rove Beetle
Secretes a detergent from its
abdomen- lowering surface tension
under its hind feet.
Enables it to pull with its front feet
and be propelled across the water
Namid desert beetle
Water droplets from fog adhere to
hydrophilic bumps on the wings,
which are surrounded by
hydrophobic troughs, which
channel water to its mouth
designs have led to
the development of
several innovative
products that can
produce fresh
drinking water in
arid regions
Why does the odor from a
skunk travel so far?
• Skunk spray contains thioacetates, which
react slowly in water to produce thiols
• Thiols are sulfur-containing compounds
which our nose can detect in concentrations
as low as a few parts per billion
• A type of thiol compound is added to
natural gas so it can be smelled
• Binds strongly to olfactory receptors
in nose
• Being nonpolar, thiol compounds
dissolve in other nonpolar
substances such as hair, skin, clothing, etc.
Use a mixture of H2O2, baking
soda, and dish detergent
• Hydrogen peroxide oxidizes thiol
compounds into odorless sulfonic acid
• Baking soda: 1)Rapidly splits thioacetates
into thiols and acetate.
2) Speeds up reaction between thiol and
3) Neutralizes the sulfonic acid produced
• Detergent helps to dissolve nonpolar
oily compounds in skunk spray
• Pregnant female cochineal beetle feed on
red cactus berries, where they concentrate
red dye in bodies.
• Dye is known as cochineal
extract, carmine, carminic acid,
crimson lake, natural red 4,
C.I. 75470, E120, etc.
• First product exported
from New World to Old
Cochineal red was
used by the Spanish
in the 1500s
Electric eel
(Not an eel)
• 600 V
• 1 amp
• 2 ms
• 500 watts
• 5,000 – 6,000 electrocytes stacked
like a battery (A voltaic pile)
• Each electrocyte .15 V – discharged
in series.
• Potential difference on each
causes ion flow (Outside more
negative than inside)
• Inspiration for theories of both
Luigi Galvini and Alessandra Volta
+ 2H2O2
→ C6H4(OH)2
+ 2H2O
+ O2
Hydroquinone + Hydrogen peroxide → p-quinone + water +
• Two separate glands: reactants in one
and catalysts in the other
• Highly exothermic – up to 100°C
Why can starlings eat fermented fruit
without becoming intoxicated?
“Starlings can metabolize alcohol at an exceptional
speed, due to the rate of activity of the alcoholsplitting enzyme alcoholdehydrogenase, which is
14 times greater in starlings than in humans. They
can indulge themselves on fermented fruit without
getting drunk, since the alcohol is broken down
quickly." (
• Oysters reduce ocean acidity
• Shells contain calcium
carbonate, which neutralize
carbonic acid
• Acts like a natural antacid
Why do grackles rub ants in their
feathers, in a behavior known as
Ants contain formic acid, which
repels parasites
Gastric Brooding Frog
Incredible website on biomimicry

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