Posts

January 16, 2015

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10:00 PM | Sex chromosome evolution … in haploids, that is
In diploid organisms, the rates of mutation and recombination played a pivotal role in the evolution of sex-determining regions and, thus, sex chromosomes.  We know quite a bit theoretically and empirically in XY systems in mammals and ZW systems in … Continue reading →
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5:11 PM | Felix Not Felicis: a tale of attempted photography
PERSERVANCE is the hard work that you do after you get tired of doing the hard work that you already did. (Quote on a tarp used to cover a moldering shelter found deep in the Trinidadian bush.)Some days everything goes just perfectly. The stars and planets align. All the stoplights are green. All your shots go through the hoop. All of a sudden, you are lucky in everything. Perhaps someone slipped some Felix Felicis into your morning pumpkin juice. Of course, most other days are a mix of lucky […]
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4:59 PM | Emotions of Blogging: Evolution's Imprint on the Human Mind
Are you a happy blogger? Rarely do I encounter a blogger who is completely content. You need motivation to struggle through various emotional states that affect the way you write. Many times you feel alone. You feel the need to write and communicate, but nothing comes. You wait for inspiration, but it escapes you. At other times, you enter the writing zone and find your flow. Writing  is easy, enjoyable. You feel connected, sane, and whole. You see traffic and y [...]
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3:42 PM | The best writing in science papers: Part II
The best writing in science papers: Part IIGuest post by Stephen Heard (scientistseessquirrel.wordpress.com)Over 2 years ago now, Jonathan posted “The best writing in science papers: Part I”.  I stumbled across that post and searched excitedly for Part II – only to discover there wasn’t one.  Well, now there is, as Jonathan has kindly allowed me to guest-post this.Jonathan’s Part I identified the butterfly-taxonomy papers of Vladimir Nabokov as containing […]
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2:52 PM | Human Metasystem Transition (HMST) Theory
NEW PAPER: Human Metasystem Transition (HMST) Theory Human evolution has been a collective, systemic process.  Throughout our history and our maturation the systems we have operated within have generated higher levels of selection, and emergent cultural and technological phenomenon.  In my latest paper I attempt to develop a theory – Human Metasystem Transition (HMST) Theory – […]Human Metasystem Transition (HMST) Theory was first posted on January 16, 2015 at […]
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1:24 PM | New books party: books that arrived last week | @GrrlScientist
This week, I share three books with you; a compelling and engaging exploration of what nature does for Britain, a witty look at the many weird, wonderful and enchanting members of the animal kingdom, and a short history Fairy Tales.What Nature Does For Britain by Tony Juniper [281 pages, Profile Books, 2015; Guardian bookshop; Amazon UK paperback/kindle UK; Amazon US paperback/kindle US] Continue reading...
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1:21 PM | Turns Out the Boy Did Not Go To Heaven
Anyone surprised to read this? A bestselling Christian book that claims to detail a boy’s trip to heaven and his return to Earth is being pulled from stores after one of its co-authors admitted he made the whole thing up. The 2010 memoir, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, was written by Alex Malarkey…
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12:00 PM | Bringing Canada to the International Congress of Entomology 2016
Call for an ESC symposium at the International Congress of Entomology in Orlando 2016 The ESC Ad Hoc Committee for the International Congress of Entomology, chaired by Murray Isman, is inviting proposals for a Canadian-focussed symposium at ICE. This should be a showcase for an area of entomology in which Canada has a special strength […]
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8:00 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Skip your annual physical. The phrase “Statistical significance is not the same as practical significance” is leading us astray. The ineffectiveness of food and soft drink taxes (although not all calories are the same). The latest extension of the nanny state – banning junk food from playgrounds. And a new book worth looking at – Government Paternalism: […]
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4:04 AM | Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: Another vermetid gastropod from the Pliocene of Cyprus
Why another one of those strange twisty gastropods from the Pliocene of Cyprus for our Fossil of the Week? Because this one fooled me for years. Above is a pair of images of a specimen of the vermetid gastropod Petaloconchus intortus (Lamarck, 1818) from the Nicosia Formation (Pliocene) of central Cyprus. It is encrusting a […]
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3:43 AM | A long (and I think good) listen: Tim Ferriss podcast on "the microbiome"
So - I have been travelling a lot lately.  On one of my trips - to Las Vegas and neighboring areas - I was interviewed by Tim Ferriss for his blog.  Jessica Richman of uBiome was also interviewed - she was in SF, Ferriss was somewhere else, and I was on the phone in Vegas.  As soon as it was over I got caught up in the work I was doing there (field work for a new NSF Funded Project on "microbial dark matter".  Anyway - the interview was entertaining and I think interesting. […]
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3:08 AM | On the road with new wheels
The Phactors have been buying new cars on average every 14.5 years whether we need one of not. It's just the kind of wild spending people we are. After 12 years TPP's old car had logged 70K miles. The F1 grabbed it and is gone. So the new car was picked up Saturday last, driven on a few errands, and then taken on a road trip to see the Florida sister, a nice 15 hour drive away. So here we are, 5-6 hrs down the road. You don't expect much out of road food, but the restaurant Mrs. […]
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2:47 AM | It’s the Helmeted water toad… this time, with information!
Back in October 2007 (at Tet Zoo ver 2) I wrote a very brief article on a poorly known, gigantic, deeply weird South American frog: the Helmeted water toad, Chilean giant frog or Gay’s frog*... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

January 15, 2015

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6:22 PM | The Pope On Charlie Hebdo
Pope Francis engages in some yes-buttery with regard to the Charlie Hebdo murders: Pope Francis said Thursday there are limits to freedom of expression, especially when it insults or ridicules someone’s faith. Francis spoke about the Paris terror attacks while en route to the Philippines, defending free speech as not only a fundamental human right…
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5:14 PM | Rhythm Changes: Notes on Some Genetic Elements in Musical Culture
That’s the title of another working paper. You may download it from Academia.edu (HERE) or from Social Science Research Network (HERE). Here’s the abstract: An entity known as Rhythm Changes is analyzed as a genetic entity in musical culture. Because it functions to coordinate the activities of musicians who are playing together it can be […]
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3:21 PM | Helping hand at the zoo
TPP was offering a helping hand to a local zoo. Oh, it had nothing to do with the animals, but the landscaping of some exhibits being built and planned. Here's the rub, you're not going to have authentic Australian plants landscaping the area around a wallaby exhibit. The hard zone 5 climate here in the upper midwest USA very much limits your landscape choices to plants from similar climates. That pretty much leaves Australia out. Too bad, TPP would love to have a tree fern or two, or […]
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3:08 PM | UC Davis MARS Symposium Wrap Up #globalfood #UCDavisMARS
Yesterday I went to a symposium at UC Davis that was the launching of a new partnership between UC Davis and the Mars Corporation. I note - I have been collaborating with some people at Mars on multiple microbiome related projects and generally have had great interactions with the people there. I am not directly involved in the planning for this new partnership between UC Davis and Mars and thus I was interested in hearing more about it at the symposium. The symposium was at the Mondavi […]
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3:00 PM | SpaceMix, and a brief history of Spatial Genetics
Incorporating spatial data to inform studies of the population demography of a species has a long history of interest. From inferring geographical clines in Principal Components Analyses (Menozzi et al. 1978), using location data as “informative priors” during model-based estimation … Continue reading →
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1:51 PM | The dual role of Transcription Factors in protein evolution, revisited
In December 2013, Stergachis and colleagues published a high-profile paper on the dual role Transcription Factors (TFs) might have as a consequence of their binding to protein coding regions. This observation could imply that not all codons in a protein sequence are equal, … Continue reading →
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10:39 AM | Tokyo Lectures in Language Evolution
This will certainly be of interest to rep typo readers. Info below: We are pleased to announce that the Tokyo Lectures in Language Evolution will be held from the 2nd – 5th of April 2015 at the Komaba II Campus of the University of Tokyo. The event will bring together researchers from around the world […]
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9:56 AM | 5 reasons why I am not Charlie
The “Je suis Charlie” campaign is the first important meme of 2015. The desire to show solidarity with journalists of Charlie Hebdo, the victims of the terrorist attack in Paris, has filled the world far and wide, from members of different NGOs to artists and from teenagers to Heads of States. You can see nowadays […] The post 5 reasons why I am not Charlie appeared first on Social Ethology.
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2:44 AM | How Extinction Changed the Coyote
The La Brea asphalt seeps are famous for the predators found entombed there. Dire wolves and the sabercat …

January 14, 2015

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10:00 PM | A current review of modern and ancient eDNA
There is something romantic about environmental DNA. The ability to discover the presence of almost any species just by detecting the microscopic bread crumbs they leave behind? That is really just a deerstalker and pipette away from Sherlock-level science. But if … Continue reading →
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8:48 PM | Undergraduate Research Highlights from #SICB2015
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a restorative holiday break. I spent nearly two weeks with family and friends and it was glorious. I capped off the break attending the annual meeting Society for... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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8:41 PM | Nature’s Drag Queens
Some men like to dress up as women. Personally, I am not a big fan of these drag queens, but I must say some look convincingly female. But is this behavior strictly human? Or do other animals organize the occasional gender-switch-party? It turns out that nature has her fair share of drag queens. Sneaky Sam Meet Sam, […]

Norman, M., Finn, J. & Tregenza, T. (1999). Female impersonation as an alternative reproductive strategy in giant cuttlefish, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 266 (1426) 1347-1349. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1999.0786

Slagsvold, T. & Sætre, G.-P. (1991). Evolution of Plumage Color in Male Pied Flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca): Evidence for Female Mimicry, Evolution, 45 (4) 910-917. Other:

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7:12 PM | In the Name of Morphology
Morphology in biology, to me, is about the science of the relationship of anatomical form to function (including biomechanics), evolution, development and other areas of organismal biology. It thus encompasses the more descriptive, form-focused area of anatomy. But in common parlance I use the two terms interchangeably, because many scientists and the general public do […]
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3:41 PM | Journal Club: Birds pick nest materials with camouflage in mind
SUMMARY: A recent study by a research team in Scotland reveals that birds intentionally choose colour-matching materials to camouflage their nests thereby reducing predation risk. The old saying, “Don’t put all your eggs into one basket” belies the very thing that many bird species must do. For this reason, predation is a major cause of loss of eggs, nestlings and the brooding hen, especially for birds that build open-cup nests. So how do birds protect their nests from […]

Bailey I.E., Kate Morgan, Simone L. Meddle & Susan D. Healy (2015). Birds build camouflaged nests, The Auk, 132 (1) 11-15. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1642/auk-14-77.1

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3:00 PM | A population genetic R-evolution
Uphill, both ways, in the snow, without shoes … quite apt when thinking of the dark days, in the not too distant past, in which a separate input file was needed for each popgen analysis in order to use a … Continue reading →
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3:00 PM | Academia vs. Industry
All of the contributors here at NiB are at a not permanent point in their career. Some are finishing their PhD, some wrapping up post docs, but all of us are on some level thinking about the next step. And as such, I am considering the perpetual question, should I stay in academia or leave […]
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2:14 PM | Birds pick nest materials with camouflage in mind | @GrrlScientist
A recent study by a research team in Scotland reveals that birds intentionally choose colour-matching materials to camouflage their nests thereby reducing predation risk.The old saying, “Don’t put all your eggs into one basket” belies the very thing that many bird species must do. For this reason, predation is a major cause of loss of eggs, nestlings and the brooding hen, especially for birds that build open-cup nests. So how do birds protect their nests from predators? […]
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