Science and Medicine

Entries - Entry Category: Science and Medicine - Starting with F

Famous and Historic Tree Program

The purpose of the Arkansas Famous and Historic Tree Program (AFHTP) is to create a greater awareness and appreciation of the state’s trees through the recognition of their historical background. The AFHTP used four criteria to determine the historic status of a tree or tree community. These criteria were modeled after the National Register of Historic Places criteria and include a tree’s association with significant events, people, and landmarks. Significant horticultural, ecological, or structural characteristics, or ability to yield cultural information in local, state, or national history are also assessed. The AFHTP formally originated in 1995 within Arkansas State Parks, though its establishment had been the ambition of several state agencies since the 1970s. The creation of the program led …

Ferns

Ferns are among the most ancient plant forms, distinguished by having a defined vascular system, reproducing by spores, and often having deeply divided leaves that unfurl from a coiled fiddlehead (crozier). They originally appeared in the fossil record about 360 million years ago, but most modern ferns arose in the early Cretaceous period about 145 million years ago. Discussed here are “true” ferns as understood in the horticultural sense and not in the broader classification used by botanists that include horsetails (Equisetum, of which Arkansas has four species), whisk ferns (Psilotum, one species), and sometimes Selaginella (ten species). Using botanist James H. Peck’s inclusive 2011 list, Arkansas has about eighty species of true ferns that are native to the state, …

Fess, Don

Don Fess of Magnolia (Columbia County) built and patented a prototype engine that saved energy by using rotating pistons rather than the standard up-and-down pistons. Don Fess was born in Allendale, Illinois, on February 12, 1915. His parents, Ora and Eunice Fess, moved with their four sons to Haynesville, Louisiana, in about 1925. Fess finished high school there at age sixteen (at that time, Louisiana schools had only eleven grades) and began to look for a job. He married Martha Emma Wainwright on June 1, 1934, and built a house across the street from his parents using salvaged lumber. He delivered ice seven days a week for a wage of $1.50 per day. He and his wife had six children. …

Fish

Arkansas fishes are a combination of abundant and rare species—primitive and ancestral, commercial and sport, game and non-game, native and introduced, and transplanted and exotic. There are approximately 233 fish species in Arkansas. Arkansas has a relatively rich fish fauna compared to neighboring states (which range between 148 and 319 fish species). Some species, such as the western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), are common statewide, whereas other species, such as the yellowcheek darter (Etheostoma moorei), have more restricted distributions. Distinct differences in topography and geology between northwestern (upland) and southeastern (lowland) Arkansas have led to distinctly different groups of fish species developing in each of these regions. For example, because of an abundance of clear, gravel-bottom, flowing streams in northwestern Arkansas, …

Fleas

Fleas are small, wingless, hematophagous (blood-feeding) ectoparasites that belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, Class Insecta, and Order Siphonaptera. There are four recognized suborders—Ceratophyllomorpha, Hystrichopsyllomorpha, Pulicomorpha, and Pygiopsyllomorpha—with about 246 recognized genera and over 2,500 described species within sixteen families. Adult fleas feed on blood of mostly mammals (about ninety-four percent of known species), including dogs, cats, and humans, with the remainder of species parasitizing birds. Fleas are an important component of the worldwide biota. In addition, they can be nuisance biters, and some serve as vectors or intermediate hosts of flea-borne disease agents and parasites. The most recent summary listed twenty-nine species of fleas in Arkansas. Fleas are most closely related, evolutionarily speaking, to insects in the orders Diptera (true …

Flowers, Cleon

Cleon Aurelius Flowers Sr., an African-American physician from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), was reported to be the first physician in the country to deliver viable conjoined twins successfully during a home birth. During his fifty-nine-year career as a physician, he earned a reputation as a compassionate and generous healthcare provider in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County. Cleon Aurelius Flowers was born in Stamps (Lafayette County) on July 26, 1913. His father, Alonza William (A. W.) Flowers, was a laborer in sawmills who later became an insurance agent for Universal Life Insurance Company, and his mother, Beulah Sampson Flowers, was a teacher, community leader, and political activist. His parents also owned and operated the A. W. Flowers and Sons grocery store …

Flu Epidemic of 1918

aka: Influenza Epidemic of 1918
A deadly influenza outbreak began in 1918 and spread around the world, killing more people than any other outbreak of disease in human history. In Arkansas, the flu killed about 7,000 people, several times more than the state lost during World War I. This flu’s history remains significant today as world health officials seek to prevent an outbreak of a similar influenza epidemic mutated from swine or “bird flu” from poultry. In the fourteenth century, Italian doctors noted a mysterious illness that often turned into an epidemic. They called it the influentia in medieval Latin, believing it was caused by an adverse influence of the stars or alignment of the planets. By the eighteenth century, it was called influenza di …

Forest Fire Lookouts

aka: Fire Towers
Fire towers (also known as lookouts) go back thousands of years. The oldest lookout still standing is the Tuztoromy Firewatch Tower in Sopron, Hungary, which was built in the thirteenth century and remodeled in 1681. The first one built in America was in downtown Harlem, New York, constructed in 1856 in what is now Marcus Garvey City Park. The first fire lookout strictly for protection of American forests was built in 1902 at Bertha Hill near Headquarters, Idaho. At the height of their use (1930s to 1970s), Arkansas had more than 120 fire towers; in 1994, forty-eight were still standing. Arkansas has ten lookouts on the National Historic Lookout Register and three on the National Register of Historic Places. The …

Fossils

Fossils are the remains of animals and plants that have been preserved in the earth’s crust. They can consist of the remains of invertebrates (animals without a backbone) or vertebrates (animals with a backbone). The majority of fossils in the fossil record, and from Arkansas, are invertebrate remains. Fossils are found mostly in sedimentary rocks, as compared to igneous and metamorphic rocks, and can form in a variety of ways. Animals living in the water column in the ocean die, and their shells or hard parts sink to the bottom of the seafloor and become preserved in sediments that later may lithify, or change to rock. Other animals crawl on the seafloor through sand and silt or burrow into the …

Fourche Mountain Salamander

aka: Plethodon fourchensis
The Fourche Mountain salamander (Plethodon fourchensis) is a slender, large (115–178 millimeters in total length) terrestrial salamander that is one of twenty or so members of the caudate family Plethodontidae that can be found in Arkansas. This species is one of three endemic salamanders known to exist in Arkansas and is confined to Fourche Mountain and Irons Fork Mountain in the south-central region of the Ouachita Mountains. Normally, these salamanders can be found beneath the surface rock of hillsides and valleys within these mountains; however, they can also be found under rotting logs on the forest floor. Adults of this species possess two longitudinal rows of large, white blotches on the back; the dorsal body color is, otherwise, uniformly black. …

Freshwater Drum

aka: Grunter
aka: Gaspergou
The freshwater drum (Aplodinotus grunniens) belongs to the order Perciformes and family Sciaenidae; it is the only freshwater member of the family. Freshwater drum are endemic to freshwater environs of the Americas, and their distributional range extends as far north as the Hudson Bay of Canada and reaches as far south as the Usumacinta River Basin of Guatemala. In the United States, eastward distribution includes the eastern Appalachians westward as far as Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. This fish appears to have the greatest latitudinal range of any freshwater fish in North America. In Arkansas, A. grunniens occurs throughout the state but mainly is found in the larger lakes and rivers. The closest living relatives of A. grunniens are a group …

Fungi

Arkansas is home to a diverse and remarkable group of fungi, which are separated by mycologists (biologists who specialize in the study of fungi, or mycology) into species representing the true fungi belonging to the kingdom Fungi (e.g., chytrids, pin molds, sugar molds, club fungi, yeasts, sac fungi, and mushrooms) and a hodgepodge of other fungus-like protists (e.g., slime molds, water molds, downy mildews). Members of the kingdom Fungi are descended from a common ancestor, while fungus-like protists, though not necessarily closely related to each other or to the true fungi, are similar to true fungi in appearance and action. Characteristics of Fungi Although the number of fungal species in Arkansas is not known, fungi are quite diverse worldwide. According …