September 03, 2014

8:08 PM | Hyraxes Upgrade Their Songs When Their Audience is Attentive
If you’re going to take the trouble to sing a song about how great you are, you probably want to make sure others are listening. It seems this is what male rock hyraxes do: they try harder to give a better performance when they have attentive listeners. Read my latest Zoologic post: Hyraxes Sing Better for Attentive Audiences .
2:56 PM | Before there were none
SUMMARY: What was it like to witness a flock of passenger pigeons flying overhead? What did this spectacle look and sound like? Start by imagining a murmuration of starlings multiplied by ten thousand times ... The passenger pigeon was driven to extinction (by people, of course) one hundred years and two days ago, when the last individual, a captive-bred individual named Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo on 1 September 1914. One of the first things that astounds most people... Read more
2:19 AM | Answers from epigenetics: What about birds?
Darwin’s Finches: Answers From Epigenetics by Jeffrey Tomkins, Ph.D. Article posted on August 29, 2014. Excerpt 1): “In studies attempting to determine the molecular basis for beak variability in finches, researchers have found that very similar developmental genetic pathways among...Read more

September 02, 2014

6:58 PM | Connecting the various levels of analysis
Is Our Focus Becoming Overly Narrow? By Nancy Eisenberg Excerpt: “A larger perspective informed by knowledge about all levels of analysis is in jeopardy. An important challenge for psychological science is to better frame and assess the interconnections among the...Read more
2:35 PM | Syringes with a natural aptitude for sucking blood
Not everyone likes bugs. “It was a little scary to see about a hundred bugs running in a little glass jar,” describes Dr. Christina Bauch who employed dummy-eggs to study Common Swifts. Fortunately, “extracting blood from the bugs is easy”. The swollen abdomen of the blood-fed bug is punctured with a syringe and the blood is drawn out “carefully and slowly”.
1:05 PM | Birdbooker Report 336
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 […]
12:24 PM | The passenger pigeon by Errol Fuller – review
SUMMARY: Written by an artist and authority on extinct species, this book shares rare photographs and other visual materials to provide a general overview to the history of the extinct passenger pigeon. "Men still live who, in their youth, remember pigeons. Trees still live who, in their youth, were shaken by a living wind. But a decade hence only the oldest oaks will remember, and at long last only the hills will know.” -- Leopold Aldo, A Sand County Almanac:... Read more
2:19 AM | Another misrepresentation of molecular epigenetics
Tiny, Vast Windows Into Human DNA By CARL ZIMMER SEPT. 1, 2014 Excerpt 1): “Sometimes, a single transcription factor may switch on dozens of other genes. And sometimes, those genes encode transcription factors of their own, enabling a cell to...Read more

September 01, 2014

6:10 PM | New Creature Feature: Meet the Thorny Devil
The thorny devil has spikes, camouflage, and a false head to protect it from predators. Plus, it can survive in its desert habitat by concentrating and drinking dew. But do they live up to their devilish name? Read my latest Creature Feature to find out: The Creature Feature: 10 Fun Facts About the Thorny Devil .
5:10 PM | Adopting Littermates… (Don’t)
The title of this post is a bit strong, but I do want to caution people from adopting two dogs from the same litter because “it’s easier” to raise two at once (ask someone with twins if it’s easier than having one child) or “we don’t want our dog to be lonely.” (Because you might […]
10:45 AM | A feathered river across the sky by Joel Greenberg – review
One hundred years ago today, the last passenger pigeon, a captive-bred adult named Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo. Since we knew that she was the last of her kind, her body was frozen into a 300-pound block of ice before she was shipped by train to the Smithsonian Institution, where she was skinned, dissected and preserved as a mount. Although none of the people who knew the living bird are themselves still alive today, we can still learn more... Read more
3:25 AM | August lives up to its definition: respected and impressive
The things we noticed in and around canine science over the past two weeks, Storified in one neat location for your convenience:[View the story "Do You Believe in Dog? [16-31 August 2014]" on Storify] Further reading:Feuerbacher E.N. (2014). Shut up and pet me! Domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) prefer petting to vocal praise in concurrent and single-alternative choice procedures, Behavioural Processes, DOI: Gygax L. (2014). The A to Z of […]

Gygax L. (2014). The A to Z of statistics for testing cognitive judgement bias, Animal Behaviour, 95 59-69. DOI:

Arnott E.R., Claire M. Wade & Paul D. McGreevy (2014). Environmental Factors Associated with Success Rates of Australian Stock Herding Dogs, PLoS ONE, 9 (8) e104457. DOI:


August 31, 2014

5:46 PM | Epigenetic Shaping of Sociosexual Interactions
Epigenetic Shaping of Sociosexual Interactions: From Plants to Humans “…is the first attempt to interpret the higher social functions of organisms. This volume covers an extraordinarily wide range of biological research and provides a novel framework for understanding human-specific brain...Read more
5:18 PM | Carnival of Evolution #75: A journey
It’s the start of a new month and that means it’s time again for the Carnival of Evolution and this time it’s a special one, the 75th edition! So all aboard […]
3:42 PM | Laws of Physics are Eliminated from Evolutionary Theory
Review article: Towards an evolutionary theory of the origin of life based on kinetics and thermodynamics Excerpt: ‘Irreversibility and the kinetic power of reproduction seem to be, at least in principle, sufficient to allow the emergence of life and there...Read more

August 30, 2014

2:45 PM | Do phenotypes evolve?
In my model, ecological variation leads to nutrient-dependent ecological adaptations manifested in the morphological and behavioral phenotypes of species from microbes to man. Conserved molecular mechanisms lead from the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA in the organized...Read more
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