Biologist With A Twist: Dr. Carin Bondar

The Third Thursday is Upon Us…

Posted on September 16th, by Carin in The latest news.... 3 comments

…a time to reflect, to read, and to remind ourselves of the bodily functions that don’t get nearly enough time in the spotlight.  This month we’re talking about vomit.  Yes, VOMIT!!! Need I say more?  Your posts are varied in theme and spirit, but the common tendrils of regurgitation bring them all together, creating a chunky organic spew to titilate your dehydrated spirits (pun intended).

Ladies and Gentleman, I bring you the second edition of the wacky and wonderful CARNAL CARNIVAL!


We first hear from Kethsaly Salinas at Student Rants by Kay, who describes in beautiful detail her recent hangover, and the physiological reasons for vomiting and other such niceties.


Speaking of a little toilet time, Christina Agapakis at the Oscillator gives us some perspective on the history and evolution of motion sickness in our species.  Who knew there could be so many contrasting theories as to the origin of the vomit mechanism?


A wonderfully designed piece on the VOMIT COMET was submitted by Scicurious.  In order to investigate orthostatic intolerance and its relationship to barfing, researchers put their human subjects on parabolic flights and separated the ‘Vomitors’ from the ‘Non-Vomitors‘…I wonder what poor graduate student got stuck with the cleanup job?


Charles Darwin, looking decidedly pale.

According to the Discoblog, it seems as though poor old Chuck Darwin may have suffered from ‘Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome’.  Of the many ailments he suffered, cyclical upchucking must certainly have been among the most annoying.




Cartoon Courtesy of

What about vomiting for good reason?  No hangover, no chronic problems…just a baby bundle on the way.  Greg Laden discusses the adaptation of morning sickness, and how it may be an evolutionary sound strategy for protecting a developing fetus from nasty items in its mama’s diet.  I just *ADORE* how the lead author of the study (a MAN of course) says that morning sickness may well be a ‘form of evolutionary wellness insurance’.  Let me tell you friend, I felt anything but well during my second pregnancy, when I threw up all the way to month 7.  Wellness indeed.


Enough about humans already!

It’s no secret that I much prefer to talk about the other 99.9% of animal species out there, so let’s see how vomiting fits in to the greater good of the animal kingdom.


Our good friend Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science brings us a dazzling story about defensive vomiting in caterpillars against predatory ants.  Its not just the act of upchucking that deters their predators; it’s the ‘detergent-like’ properities of the spew itself.


Clarkson examining the contents of bird barf

Jennifer Viegas at Discovery News talks to Charles Clarkson at the University of Virginia about the data he extracts from the vomit of double crested cormorants.  It turns out that nestlings regurgiate defensively, so Charles needs only to scare them and hold up a birdie barf bag in order to obtain his valuable samples.  (And how was YOUR day at the office?)


Continuing on the defensive front, organisms don’t just barf at their predators, they also spew blood and other acrid compounds too.  Not necessarily the most pleasant way to spend your day, but when your life is on the line what else can you do?  My own take on defensive upchucking in crickets fits in well with the thoughts of Discoblog on the blood and barf spewing crickets and lizards.  Here’s a great opportunity to include a happy little blood-spewing video:

(be warned, it’s a little graphic)


Tawny owl pellets.

Barfing isn’t always for defensive purposes.  Owls tend to bring back ‘pellets’ of the undigested remains of their prey.  You can catch the details at Bad Astronomy in an appropriately titled piece: Hoo Barfed?


So what happens when you place a cat in a free falling ‘vomit comet’?  You can watch this video to see whether it lands on its feet!

The most astonishing post is saved for last.

A giant python ingests an entire HIPPO, then barfs it up for the camera.  Good grief.

This brings us to the end of Carnal Carnival #2, thanks for visiting!  Next month’s carnival will be hosted by the fabulous Brian Switek, on the topic of Taphonomy, Decay and Fossilization.

Click HERE to catch up with Carnal Carnival #1 ‘The Essentials of Elimination’ hosted by Blogfather Bora.


I’ll leave you with a few rather poignant words from Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536):

“Do not be afraid of vomiting if you must; it is not vomiting but holding the vomit in your throat that is foul.”

3 Responses to “The Third Thursday is Upon Us…”

  1. [...] to celebrating the traditionally gross in the animal world.  Previous editions have featured poop, vomit, decay and orgasm (which is less gross, but still pretty [...]

  2. [...] second edition of the Carnal Carnival was recently posted, and this month’s theme was vomit. I had a great idea for a post on emetophobia, but managed to miss the deadline because I was sick [...]

  3. I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one today..

Leave a Reply

The Latest News

Did You Know I Have a Book?

Hey Friends! My book, ‘The Nature of Human Nature’ – is a fun and easy read that includes some of my favourite observations...