Entry Category: Science and Technology

Brownlee, Robert

Robert Brownlee was a Scottish stonemason who lived in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1837 to 1849. He helped build the first statehouse in Arkansas and several other historic landmarks in Pulaski County. Robert Brownlee was born on April 24, 1813, in Bonkle, Cambusnethan Parish, a tiny community in the Scottish lowlands. He was ninth in a family of seven sons and four daughters born to Margaret and Alexander Brownlee. After a basic education at Murdestoun Estate School near Bonkle, he apprenticed to his older brother, William, a stonecutter. Brownlee was twenty-three when he read about the December 1835 fire that almost destroyed New York City and the need for mechanics to help rebuild the city. That same day, he …

Bryozoans

aka: Ectoprocta
aka: Moss Animals
Bryozoans (commonly called moss animals) are generally sessile, colonial invertebrates that belong to the phylum Bryozoa (or Ectoprocta), which is sometimes combined with two other phyla (Phoronida and Brachiopoda) to form a possible clade within the Deuterostomia. The three are sometimes referred to as the Lophophorata. Fossil bryozoans commonly found in Arkansas can be divided into two broad groups: the lacy colonies and the twig-shaped colonies. One fossil, the Archimedes, is especially abundant in northwestern Arkansas. In the southeastern United States, large gelatinous colonies of P. magnifica are a common sight, sometimes called “dinosaur snot.” These are often seen at Lake Wilhelmina in Polk County, and some have been reported in eastern Arkansas County. The primary uniting characteristic of this …

Buchanan, Herbert Earle

Herbert Earle Buchanan was a nationally known astronomer, mathematician, teacher, and sports reformer. His research significantly advanced a mathematical understanding of the stability of the orbits of heavenly bodies, and he authored numerous college and university textbooks. Buchanan was very interested in athletics and was one of the founders of the National Collegiate Athletics Association. Buchanan was born in Cane Hill (Washington County) on October 4, 1881, to Susan Clark Williamson and James A. Buchanan, a Civil War veteran who became a farmer, surveyor, and circuit-riding Presbyterian minister. After attending the local “subscription school,” in which the family of each attending child paid a pro-rated fee, Buchanan entered the college preparatory program at Arkansas Industrial University (later the University of …

Bull Shoals Dam and Lake

Bull Shoals Dam site is located on the White River about ten miles west of Mountain Home (Baxter County), where the river divides Baxter and Marion counties. The site is named after its location at a shoal (a shallow and swift reach of river), borrowing from the French “Boill,” meaning a large spring. Private power companies had explored the possibility of building a dam at Wildcat Shoals above Cotter (Baxter County) as early as 1902 but never began any work toward it. Congress approved the construction of six reservoirs in the White River Basin in the Flood Control Act of 1938. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report in 1930 had recommended the Wildcat Shoals site along with seven others …

Busey, Samuel Thompson

Samuel Thompson Busey was a 1920s oil speculator and promoter of the Arkansas oil industry. While originally trained as a physician, he later became a geologist and completed the famed “Discovery Well,” or Busey No. 1 Well, outside El Dorado (Union County) in 1921. Busey’s efforts helped usher in the south Arkansas oil boom of the 1920s. Samuel Busey was born in Champaign County, Illinois, on February 10, 1867, and was the fifth of six children of John Simpson Busey and the former Caroline Marie Snyder. Busey came from a family of adventurers and community activists. His father was a farmer until 1845, when he left farming to travel across the United States. His father then took over his own …

Butterflies and Moths

Arkansas has long been an ideal place to see butterflies and moths, but an increase in public awareness has occurred since the mid-1990s with the publication of scientific papers and checklists, as well as the emergence of special events in state parks. Butterflies and moths are classified in the insect order Lepidoptera, meaning “scale-wing.” Of approximately 350,000 species of butterflies and moths on earth, approximately 15,000 species are butterflies. Butterflies are distinguished from moths by the thousands of microscopic scales that create the color patterns on both sides of the wings. During a typical year, 134 butterfly species may be sighted in Arkansas, including year-round residents, summer residents, and migrants; 94 of these species live on Mount Magazine. An estimated …

Caddisflies

aka: Trichopterans
Caddisflies (Phylum Arthropoda, Class Insecta, Order Trichoptera) make up the largest and most diverse group of aquatic insects. More specifically, caddisflies are a group of small to medium-sized (2 to 30 mm in length), moth-like insects with two pairs of hairy membranous wings; they have aquatic larval forms that metamorphose into terrestrial adults. The name for the order Trichoptera comes from the name Trichos, which means “hairy,” and ptera, which means “wings.” The word “caddis” dates back to The Compleat Angler, written by Izaak Walton (1594–1683) and published in 1653, in which “cod-worms or caddis” were named as being used for bait. Caddisflies are a favorite food of many fish, and therefore are attractive to anglers, particularly trout fly fishermen, …

Caddo Mountain Salamander

aka: Plethodon caddoensis
The Caddo Mountain salamander (Plethodon caddoensis) is a slender, medium-sized (90–100 millimeters in total length) terrestrial salamander. It is one of twenty or so members of the caudate family Plethodontidae that can be found in Arkansas. Adults of this species possess numerous tiny white spots and/or brassy flecks on the back and tail; the dorsal body color is otherwise uniformly black. The lateral body surfaces are creamy white in appearance. The throat region is distinctly pale or white. Juveniles may lack much of the lateral body coloration. This species is one of three endemic salamanders known to exist in Arkansas and is primarily confined to the Caddo Mountains area of the southern Ouachita National Forest and several outlying areas in …

Carpenter Dam

aka: Lake Hamilton
Carpenter Dam is the second of three dams constructed along the Ouachita River in the vicinity of Hot Springs (Garland County), following Remmel Dam (completed in 1924) and preceding Blakely Mountain Dam (completed in the 1950s). The concrete gravity dam was built by Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L), which later became Entergy, for purposes of producing hydroelectric power. It impounds the 7,200-acre Lake Hamilton. Carpenter Dam was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 4, 1992, in recognition of its role in the growth and development of Hot Springs. Flavius Josephus (Flave) Carpenter, an associate of AP&L president Harvey Couch, selected the site for the construction of Carpenter Dam, ten miles upstream from Remmel Dam, and so …

Carps

In Arkansas, carps are an invasive (exotic or non-native) species whose introduction has caused economic and/or environmental damage. To date, there are five species of invasive carps that have entered or have been deliberately introduced into Arkansas for various reasons, and all belong to the order Cypriniformes and the minnow family Cyprinidae. Many of these fish originated from Asia or Europe, were introduced into North America, and pose a major threat to the ecology of native fishes, the environment, and the economy of fisheries in Arkansas. The longer it takes to respond to the damage done to an ecosystem done by these fish, the more money and time must be spent restoring and protecting that ecosystem. Grass Carp The grass …

Cave Crayfishes

aka: Troglobitic Crayfishes
Crayfishes belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, Subphylum Crustacea, Class Malacostraca, Order Decapoda, and Family Cambaridae. Crayfishes are a taxonomically diverse cosmopolitan group with more than 669 species worldwide. There appear to be two centers of geographic diversity, one in southeastern Australia (Southern Hemisphere center) and one in the southeastern United States (Northern Hemisphere center) in the southeastern Appalachian Mountains. Obligate cave-dwelling taxa in the United States occur in five main karst (limestone) geographic regions: (1) the Cumberland Plateau of the southern Appalachians of eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee, and northern Alabama; (2) the Interior Lowlands of southern Indiana, western Kentucky, and northwestern Tennessee; (3) the Greenbrier Valley of West Virginia; (4) the Ozark Plateau of southwestern Missouri, northern Arkansas, and eastern …

Centipedes

Centipedes (class Chilopoda) are myriapods that include two subclasses, five living orders, and about 2,800 described species (out of an estimated worldwide fauna of approximately 8,000 species) within about twenty-three families. Their fossil history dates back over 410 million years ago to the late Silurian Period of the Paleozoic Era. In terms of worldwide geographic distribution, centipedes are found north of the Arctic Circle and inhabit all subarctic regions but are most abundant in temperate, desert, and tropical areas, where they are common terrestrial invertebrates. Humans have unintentionally introduced several species onto most oceanic islands. However, one order (Craterostigomorpha) is endemic to New Zealand and Tasmania. Members of the families Oryidae and Scutigeridae and of the subfamily Otostigminae have been …

Central Mudminnows

aka: Umbrids
The central mudminnow (Umbra limi) is a small (51 to 132 mm [2 to 5 in.]) fish that belongs to the Family Umbridae and Order Esociformes. There are three other North American members of the family: the eastern mudminnow (U. pygmaea) of the Eastern Seaboard and Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Alaska blackfish (Dallia pectoralis) that occurs in Alaska and adjacent Siberia, and the Olympic mudminnow (Novumbra hubbsi) of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. All of these are strictly Northern Hemisphere freshwater species. A third Umbra species, the European Mudminnow (U. krameri), occurs widely throughout Europe. Mudminnows are most closely related to esocids (pikes and pickerels). The fossil record includes specimens that date back to the Oligocene of Eurasia and North …

Centrarchid Fishes

aka: Sunfishes
The Centrarchidae (sunfishes) are a family of North American native freshwater ray-finned fish belonging to the order Perciformes. There are eight genera and thirty-eight species in the family, thirty-four of which (eighty-nine percent) are extant. The group includes several game and pan fishes familiar to anglers, including smallmouth and largemouth basses, bluegills (“bream”), and crappies. The eight genera are: Acantharchus (mud sunfish), Ambloplites (rock basses), Archoplites (Sacramento perch), Centrarchus (flier), Enneacanthus (banded sunfishes), Lepomis (sunfishes), Micropterus (black basses), and Pomoxis (crappies). In Arkansas, there are five genera and twenty-two species of centrarchids, of which eighteen are native and four are introduced. The latter includes the rock bass (Ambloplites rupestris), redbreast sunfish (Lepomis auritus), redeye bass (Micropterus coosae), and shoal bass …

Cestodes

aka: Tapeworms
Cestodes (tapeworms) include flatworms belonging to the phylum Platyhelminthes, class Cestoidea, subclasses Cestodaria (two orders) and Eucestoda (sixteen orders), and about fifty-nine families. The subclass Cestodaria includes monozoic (unsegmented) tapeworms containing only a single set of male and female reproductive organs; these are parasitic in the intestinal tract and body cavity of fishes and turtles. The subclass Eucestoda is made up of polyzoic (segmented) or monozoic cestodes of varying structure and parasitic in the intestines of vertebrates. To date, there are more than 5,000 described species that, as endoparasites, infect all vertebrate classes. The classification of tapeworms remains ambiguous using classical morphological studies alone, and, although some studies have been done recently using molecular tools, further attention is needed to …

Chandler, Florence Clyde

Florence Clyde Chandler was a plant geneticist with a broad background in tree-breeding and the induction of polyploidy (the quality of having one or more extra sets of chromosomes) in flowering plants. Her exceptional success inducing polyploidy in the nuclei by using colchicines resulted in the production of a series of outstanding tetraploid and diploid verbenas. During World War II, she worked at the Guatemalan experimental station as a cinchona (a type of evergreen tree) breeder, where she furthered the successful development of a derivative for quinine, a malaria remedy. Born on September 28, 1901, in Oliver (Scott County) to William Festus Chandler and Nannie Charlotte Shannon, Florence Chandler was educated at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington …

Chordate Parasites

aka: Parasitic Chordates
Although the majority of the world’s parasites are protists, helminths, invertebrates, and other miscellaneous groups of organisms, parasitism has also arisen within animals of the phylum Chordata (subphylum Vertebrata). All chordates, at some time in their development, possess five derived morphological characteristics as follows: (1) a dorsal tubular or hollow nerve cord, (2) a notochord, (3) pharyngeal gill slits or pouches, (4) an endostyle, and (5) a post-anal tail. Some examples of parasitic chordates are remoras (which attach to sharks and rays); the jawless fishes (lampreys and hagfishes), which prey upon other fishes; some birds that practice brood parasitism; and vampire bats. The Superclass Agnatha has both extinct groups and extant species, including the “jawless” fish (lamprey and hagfish) that …

Chowning, Frank Edwin

Frank Chowning was a longtime Little Rock (Pulaski County) attorney. He was also a plant enthusiast whose work with irises, especially his hybridization efforts, earned him an international reputation. Francis Edwin Chowning was born on May 26, 1894, in Rison (Cleveland County) to Nathaniel Barnett Chowning and Deborah Curtis Marks Chowning. Chowning grew up and received his early education in Rison before attending Henderson-Brown College (now Henderson State University) in Arkadelphia (Clark County). His time at Henderson-Brown was interrupted by World War I, during which Chowning served in the U.S. Army, earning the rank of lieutenant while stationed in France. Following the war, he earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1922. He married Martha Speakes Bradford in 1928, …

Cladocerans

aka: Water Fleas
Water fleas (cladocerans) belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, Subphylum Crustacea, Class Branchiopoda, and Order Cladocera. Over 700 species and more than 100 genera have been recognized, but many additional species are surely undescribed. The genus Daphnia alone contains around 150 species. The order forms a monophyletic group, which is divided into four suborders and eleven families as follows: Anomopoda (five families), Ctenopoda (two families), Haplopoda (one family), and Onychopoda (three families). Although a complete survey of the cladocerans of Arkansas has not been given, about twenty species/taxa within five families have been reported. Cladocerans first appeared in the Permian. Until recently, the evolutionary history of cladocerans has been obscured by a mixture of erroneous fossil identifications and assumptions. However, knowledge …

Clegg, Moses Tran

Bacteriologist Moses Tran Clegg attracted international attention in 1909 when he reportedly became the first person to grow the leprosy bacillus in a laboratory. It was hoped that this breakthrough would lead to a vaccine to treat leprosy, also called Hansen’s disease, an infectious, disfiguring, and incurable disease caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium leprae. In addition to this achievement, Clegg also did research for the U.S. government on bubonic plague, amoebic dysentery, infantile paralysis, and cholera, and he coauthored scholarly bulletins on such bacteriological subjects as leprosy, amoebas, and parasitic protozoa. Born on September 1, 1876, in Red Bluff (Jefferson County) to Joseph T. Clegg, who was an allopathic doctor, and Ida Daugherty Clegg, Moses Clegg received his primary education …

Climate and Weather

Officially classified by climatologist Wladimir Köppen as having a humid sub-tropical climate, Arkansas is indeed humid, but numerous weather extremes run through the state. Humid sub-tropical is classified generally as a mild climate with a hot summer and no specific dry season. The Köppen classification is correct in that regard, but the state truly has four seasons, and they can all range from fairly mild to incredibly extreme. The topography of the land and its proximity to the plains to the west and the Gulf of Mexico to the south play a crucial role in its climate and weather. In the United States, warm, moist air travels into the plains from the Gulf of Mexico and interacts with cool, dry …

Climate Change

The spring of 2019 brought record flooding along the Arkansas River from Van Buren (Crawford County) to its confluence with the Mississippi River in the east. Historic crests occurred at Dardanelle (Yell County), Morrilton (Conway County), Toad Suck Lock and Dam near Conway (Faulkner County), and Pendleton (Desha County) between May 30 and June 6. In July 2019, the National Weather Service reported that the remnants of Hurricane Barry dumped 16.17 inches of rain on Dierks (Howard County), the most rain ever measured in a twenty-four-hour period (1:00 p.m. July 15 through 1:00 p.m. July 16) in Arkansas; the three-day total of 16.59 inches was the most rain associated with a tropical system in recorded state history. Murfreesboro (Pike County) …

Cnidarians

aka: Hydroids
aka: Corals
aka: Jellyfishes
aka: Sea Anemones
Cnidarians (hydroids, jellyfishes, corals, and sea anemones) form a diverse phylum (Cnidaria, old Phylum Coelenterata) that contains more than 10,000 species. The phylum also includes the parasitic Myxozoa. Typical cnidarians inhabit aquatic (predominantly marine) environments. Cnidarians are divided into two major groups: the Anthozoa (corals, sea anemones, and sea pens), which live as sessile polyps, and the subphylum Medusozoa (Hydra, jellyfishes, and sea wasps), many of which form a free-swimming medusa as well as polyps. There are five main classes: Anthozoa, Cubozoa, Hydrozoa, Scyphozoa, and Staurozoa. Only a few cnidarians can be found in Arkansas, including a jellyfish seen in lakes and rivers. In terms of evolutionary relationships, modern molecular phylogenetic results support the notion that anthozoans represent the first …