Posts

October 11, 2014

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3:26 AM | The red of bearded vultures—allure or cure?
We now know that bearded vultures deliberately dust themselves red. But why?

Negro JJ, Margalida A, Hiraldo F & Heredia R (1999). The function of the cosmetic coloration of bearded vultures: when art imitates life., Animal behaviour, 58 (5) PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10564620

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October 10, 2014

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10:17 AM | Beepcast, September 2014
Dieter Hochuli from the University of Sydney, tells me what life’s like for a caterpillar, and how one has evolved a cool mechanism to avoid being attacked. I find out how personality might influence your decision making, if you’re a stickleback. And in the scientific spark, I talk to Leigh Simmons who is managing editor of the scientific journal Behavioral Ecology, and Professor at, and Director of, the Centre for Evolutionary Biology at the University of Western Australia, about […]
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3:50 AM | Throwback Thursday: My First Digital Insect Macro Shot
I missed Wordless Wednesday yesterday, so today I bring you a Throwback Thursday shot instead!  If you have been living under a social media rock (I know lots of people who do!) and don’t know about Throwback Thursday, it’s a day each week where people post old photos of themselves, their families, anything from the […]

October 09, 2014

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9:10 PM | Understanding physical forces of ecological variation and adaptation
Discovery of new subatomic particle, type of meson, to ‘transform’ understanding of fundamental force of nature   Excerpt: “Because the Ds3*(2860)ˉ particle contains a heavy charm quark it is easier for theorists to calculate its properties. And because it has...Read more
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2:49 PM | Eliminating evolutionary theory
Does evolutionary theory need a rethink? Excerpt 1) “…the theory neglects key processes, say Kevin Laland and colleagues.” My comment: “Olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans...Read more
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1:05 PM | Ebola nous rend-il fous?
Depuis quelques jours, une folie du complot s'est déclenchée aux Etats-Unis autour du virus Ebola. Tout est parti du rapatriement d'un Américain atteint par le virus. Aussitôt, les complotistes les plus célèbres d'Amérique ont inondé Internet de leurs interprétations conspirationnistes. Un article du Nouvel Observateur explique bien les faits. On y voit notamment le féru de complots en tout genre, très […]

October 08, 2014

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8:28 PM | Kill The Science
This week we’re taking a short break from the usual so I can talk about Doctor Who. Specifically, last week’s Doctor Who Episode ‘Kill The Moon’. Before you animal lovers scurry away, let me give you a brief, spoilery synopsis. … Continue reading →
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9:05 AM | Psychose du complot autour du virus Ebola
Depuis quelques jours, une folie du complot s'est déclenchée aux Etats-Unis autour du virus Ebola. Tout est parti de la rapatriation d'un Américain atteint par le virus. Aussitôt, les complotistes les plus célèbres d'Amérique ont inondé Internet de leurs interprétations conspirationnistes. Un article du Nouvel Observateur explique bien les faits. On y voit notamment le féru de complots en tout genre, très […]

October 07, 2014

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10:00 PM | Behavioral ecology: please continue to believe in our fantasies
Behavioral ecology and genomics: new directions, or just a more detailed map? Excerpt 1): “Transcriptome sequencing, often called RNAseq, both sequences and quantifies the portions of the genome being transcribed under conditions of interest (Wang et al. 2009; De Wit...Read more
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2:09 AM | 2014 and 2004 Nobel Prize in Medicine
2014 Nobel Prize in Medicine is Awarded for Discovery of Brain’s ‘Inner GPS’ Excerpt: “At left, gray lines show the path followed by a rat as it moves around a box looking for pieces of food.” 2014 Nobel prize in...Read more

October 06, 2014

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6:29 PM | The Biology of Nagging
A female pied flycatcher can't feed herself sufficientlywhile she incubates her eggs and newly-hatchedchicks. Photo by Alejandro Cantarero.I have been blessed with the fortune of not just having two healthy and happy babies, but being able to spend much of the spring and summer nurturing them and watching them develop and grow. But it has not been all roses: their smiles beam through the fog of my sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Their tears are met with my own. Our clothes are stained in a […]

Cantarero, A., López-Arrabé, J., Palma, A., Redondo, A. & Moreno, J. (2014). Males respond to female begging signals of need: a handicapping experiment in the pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca, Animal Behaviour, 94 167-173. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.05.002

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5:47 PM | Subliminal
In preparation for a talk I’ll be giving soon in Madison, WI about the mental lives of animals, I’ve been reading Subliminal, by Leonard Mlodinow. I highly recommend it; Mlodinow elaborates on our increasing, and sometimes unsettling knowledge about the power of our unconscious. Here’s a talk given by the author himself about the topic. […]
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4:06 PM | Birdbooker Report 341
SUMMARY: Books, books, beautiful books! This is a list of biology, ecology, environment, natural history and animal books that are (or will soon be) available to occupy your bookshelves and your thoughts. “Words in leather and wood”. Bookshelves in the “Long Room” at the old Trinity College Library in Dublin. Image: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA. 2007. (Creative Commons.) Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them!... Read […]
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3:26 PM | Meet the Armoured Bush Cricket
The armoured bush cricket is native to the African bush across Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Because they make good a snack for many different predators, armoured bush crickets possess a remarkable array of defensive measures. These strategies can be deployed selectively against different threats, or progressively against a single predator if any lone measure doesn’t work to deter the attack. These tactics range from the clever to the gross. Read my latest Zoologic post: […]
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8:36 AM | Pourquoi George Clooney s’est marié
Se marier, quand on s'appelle George Clooney, n'est pas anodin. Ce garçon n'avait pas à se forcer pour trouver de nombreuses et séduisantes conquêtes. Courtney Cox, Lucy Liu, Elisabetta Canalis, Lisa Snowdon..., toutes aussi courtisées et attirantes mais dont l'espérance de vie dans les bras du beau George avoisinait quelques semaines. Que s'est-il passé pour qu'il se mue d'un Don Juan hyperactif en fidèle chevalier servant? Changement de […]
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8:36 AM | Que s’est-il passé dans la tête de George Clooney ?
Se marier, quand on s'appelle George Clooney, n'est pas anodin. Ce garçon n'avait pas à se forcer pour trouver de nombreuses et séduisantes conquêtes. Courtney Cox, Lucy Liu, Elisabetta Canalis, Lisa Snowdon..., toutes aussi courtisées et attirantes mais dont l'espérance de vie dans les bras du beau George avoisinait quelques semaines. Que s'est-il passé pour qu'il se mue d'un Don Juan hyperactif en fidèle chevalier servant? Changement de […]
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2:42 AM | RNA-mediated events: chromosomal rearrangements and genomic rearrangements
The Architecture of a Scrambled Genome Reveals Massive Levels of Genomic Rearrangement during Development Excerpt: “Genome-wide DNA rearrangements are most exaggerated in ciliates, particularly in the model organism Oxytricha trifallax, which programs not only DNA deletion, but also total reorganization,...Read more

October 05, 2014

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5:52 PM | How much good can be attributed to social science theories?
Battle between NSF and House science committee escalates: How did it get this bad? Excerpt: “The public deserves an explanation for why the NSF has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on musicals about climate change, bicycle designs, and a...Read more
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5:05 PM | Bay Area Science Festival!
The Bay Area Science Festival is coming up (October 23rd – November 1, 2014)! I’m involved in three different events, all […]
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5:18 AM | Book Review: Listen, Here is a Story: Ethnographic Life Narratives from Aka and Ngandu Women of the Congo Basin
When you look in the news for the Central African Republic you encounter stories about rebels, terror, civil war, murder, and bloodshed. But what are the other aspects of life in the region that no news agency covers? A journey to the center of the African rainforest reveals what happens and has been happening for […]
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4:50 AM | Book Review: Secret Chambers: The Insider Story of Cells and Complex Life
If Martin Brasier didn’t want to pick science as his occupation, certainly he should have chosen to be a novelist, instead! Professor Martin Brasier who is a palaeobiologist at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, in his book Secret Chambers: The Inside Story of Cells and Complex Life, takes us on a journey […]
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3:11 AM | RNA-mediated genetic engineering (Part 3)
RCas9: A programmable RNA editing tool Excerpt: “The researchers envision a wide range of potential applications for RCas9. For example, an RCas9 tethered to a protein translation initiation factor and targeted to a specific mRNA could essentially act as a...Read more
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3:10 AM | Friday 5 (on Saturday): Insect Haikus for the End of Summer
For some reason, I was feeling poetic today.  I started making up poems in my head on my way home from work and made excellent progress on a multi-stanza educational poem about dragonflies I might share with you sometime.  But I also came up with a series of haikus, inspired by the changing seasons and some […]
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2:48 AM | RNA-mediated genetic engineering (Part 2)
WATCH: Bill Nye the Science Guy predicts end of creationism is nigh Excerpt: “Best known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, the 58-year-old educator, TV personality and author lamented the lingering myth that the universe is a product of divine...Read more

October 04, 2014

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7:00 PM | Did parental love evolve separately in birds and mammals?
EDUCATION: SEXUALITY EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES Excerpt: Romantic (erotic) love, an important component of human reproductive and sexual behavior, has its origins in parenting behavior. In reptiles, there is neither parental care nor an affectionate or affiliative bond between...Read more
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5:45 PM | Nerd Nite East Bay talk
I was recently invited to give a talk at Nerd Nite East Bay! Before the show and during intermissions I […]
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5:10 PM | I’m going to be the new Huxley Fellow at Rice!
I’m ridiculously excited to announce that I’ll be joining Rice University’s BioSciences department as the new Huxley Fellow. It’s a […]
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11:47 AM | Chronicles of Athena – 10 Weeks
At ten weeks of age Athena took an upgrade in her cheekiness levels. She’s been pushing her newly established boundaries and because I’m a soft touch I expect she’s discovered that many of those boundaries are quite flexible. New habits … Continue reading →
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3:10 AM | RNA-mediated genetic engineering
Epigenetics II: Cellular Memory, Imprinting, and Targeting Genome Configuration With RNA   Excerpt: “…this germline-specific piRNA-targeted epigenetic control is key to understanding how life history events activate natural genetic engineering.” My comment: What’s surprising is that researchers are not reporting...Read more
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1:57 AM | RNA-mediated events are not a matter of faith
A Matter of Faith—movie review Highlighting real world problems for Christian families By Gary Bates Published: 25 September 2014 (GMT+10) Excerpt: “Parents need to be aware that they must deal with this issue of origins in the home because public education...Read more
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