October 01, 2014

1:59 PM | Crosspost from microBEnet: Some interesting new papers on functional analysius of metagenomics
Crossposting from microBEnet:Some new papers that may be of interest to people:FOAM (Functional Ontology Assignments for Metagenomes): a Hidden Markov Model (HMM) database with environmental focus. Statistical Methods for Functional Metagenomic Analysis Based on Next-Generation Sequencing Data PhD thesis from Pookhao, Naruekamol Profile Hidden Markov Models for the Detection of Viruses within Metagenomic Sequence DataParallel-META 2.0: Enhanced Metagenomic Data Analysis with […]
1:56 PM | Crosspost from microBEnet: Collection of papers on "The Science of Science Communication"
Crossposting this from microBEnet  Just got pointed to this by Sharon Strauss, the chair of the Evolution and Ecology department here at UC Davis: The Science of Science Communication II Sackler Colloquium.  This is a collection of papers from a colloquium held in Septment 2013.  Slides and videos of the talks are available online. The papers and links (copied from the PNAS site) are listed below.  There are many papers here of relevance to work done at […]
12:59 PM | One Thing Is Just Like The Other – Sort Of
Biology concepts – undulipodia, convergent evolution, parallel evolution, homologous structures, re-emergent evolution, atavism, flagella, eukaryote, prokaryoteThis represents the evolution of cell phones over the last couple of decades. The latest models aren’t there since things are changing so fast. Evolution in biology doesn’t always work this way, one thing leading directly to another, sometimes you have to go back to a rotary phone go forward to an iPhone, and sometimes […]

Lahti, D. C., N. A. Johnson, et al. (2009). Relaxed selection in the wild. , Trends in Ecology and Evolution, , 24 (9) 487-496. Other:

Stone G & French V (2003). Evolution: have wings come, gone and come again?, Current biology : CB, 13 (11) 8. PMID:

Wiens JJ (2011). Re-evolution of lost mandibular teeth in frogs after more than 200 million years, and re-evaluating Dollo's law., Evolution; international journal of organic evolution, 65 (5) 1283-96. PMID:

6:09 AM | A Poor Description of the Monty Hall Problem
My latest book project has been coediting the proceedings of the 2013 MOVES Conference held in New York City, which has turned out to be a lot harder than I anticipated. For the last few weeks it’s been all-consuming, and spending so many hours in front of the computer staring at other people’s writing has…
3:22 AM | Why are men such dicks? (2014)
‘This macho advantage of speed, strength and fierceness can be exaggerated by females’ tastes. As half of a female’s fate is tied up in her sons, she may have evolved to prefer males who are stronger, faster and who have a greater appetite for risk, since they will be more likely to father sons with […]

September 30, 2014

9:19 PM | Nothing quite like the feeling of completing your presentation: Day 2 of the International Palaeontological Congress
MENDOZA, ARGENTINA–I promise, the images will be much more interesting in the next post! Today we concentrated on talks. I finally was able to deliver mine in the same session as Leif Tapanila above. It was a crowded little room, but the presentations kept us well entertained and informed. I learned a lesson: without any […]
8:44 PM | Almost, almost a great idea!
Here's a link to a fun article about a brewery in Bruges building a pipeline to the bottling plant to keep hundreds of beer tanker trucks off the roads. Now this is a pretty good time, energy saving idea, but it could have been a great idea.  Why not just cut out the middle step, the bottling, and pipe the fresh beer right into your abode?  Yes, yes, right there with the running water, hot and cold, and fresh draft beer. Just a bit more creativity was all that was […]
4:43 PM | Messing with gravity
There are things you'd like to count on, and gravity is one of them, yes, even when you're at the top of a ladder.  Here's the thing. Ice has mass; it's heavy because it's water, which is pretty heavy, just ice is just a tad less dense than water, which is one of the few substances whose solid form is less dense than it's liquid phase. Now what is happening is that a lot of ice is melting in Antarctica, so much that the loss of this mass is ever so slightly altering gravity; […]
3:27 PM | Understanding the evolution of nocturnal mammals by studying their extinct relatives
Humans are diurnal. We sleep at night and are active during the day. (That isn’t to say that I feel particularly diurnal most mornings, given that my alarm has to make it through a few snooze cycles to wake me up and coffee is the only thing keeping me from napping under my desk at […]
3:15 PM | Today on "Express Yourself" Teen Radio - me - being interviewed about #Microbes & #OpenScience
Just a little self-centered plug.  I was interviewed recently for Express Yourself! | VoiceAmerica™ teen radio show.  The teens interviewing me included Henna Hundal who worked in my lab this summer as an intern on our "Seagrass Microbiome" project. See a post from Cassie Ettinger about Henna's work.  Also see:Now watching our brilliant high school student Henna Hundal present about her summer project— Jonathan Eisen […]
10:36 AM | Facing the facts: delighting in dragonflies
My ‘friend’ Adam Hayward is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh. His research involves the study of ageing, for which he typically uses detailed life history records from long-term studies of mammals (including sheep, elephants and humans). This means he does not have to perform experiments, instead waiting patiently until the data thwacks […]
9:03 AM | The genetic basis of social mobility
In 2007’s A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, Gregory Clark argued that the higher fertility of the rich in pre-industrial England sowed the seeds for the Industrial Revolution. As children resemble their parents, the increased number of prudent, productive people made possible the modern economic era. Part of the controversy […]
8:57 AM | The Unexceptional Devil’s Hole Pupfish
The salt-encrusted earth of Death Valley is, quite literally, the hottest place on Earth. It is desolate terrain where even the most rugged life is constantly struggling to survive. Staring out across the dusty landscape, it’s hard to imagine that the entire area sits atop a vast aquifer, with millions of gallons of fresh water hiding below […]The post The Unexceptional Devil’s Hole Pupfish appeared first on Science Sushi.
4:38 AM | Seen on PBS: Weird Guy from AEI
The PBS NewsHour this past evening had a guest on from the American Enterprise Institute, one Frederick Hagan. Mr. Hagan apparently is critical of the president and administration concerning the problem of the “Islamic State” (ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh, depending on your outlook) in Iraq. It was all pretty much boiler-plate grousing, with copious “I […]
3:33 AM | Personalized Medicine World Conference 2015: 55 speakers 7 of which are women #YAMMM #StemWomen
Well, umm, Ralph Snyderman, despite the email invitation I will not be attending PMWC 2015 Silicon Valley.  Why not?  Well how about the fact that you have 55 speakers listed, only 7 of which are women. Previous year's meetings are not much better.  For example, for the 2014 Meeting in Silicon Valley the Track 1 session (which they call the premier session or something like that) has a ratio of 52:5 Male:Female. -------- This is from the "Tree of Life Blog" of Jonathan […]
12:41 AM | Adorable Alligatorellus
Today’s alligators, crocodiles, and gharials are gorgeous animals, but you’d be hard pressed to call them cute. Chirpy …

September 29, 2014

11:16 PM | Episode 14 Field Guide: The Art of Dinosaurs
Conjuring up extinct environments, museums, books, and documentaries rely on art to show extinct animals revitalized in their ancient surroundings. This type of educational reconstruction is called Paleoart (or Palaeoart for the UK inclined). They are usually striking portraits of the weird place this planet used to be. But, you look at an image of a roaming Tyrannosaurus […] The post Episode 14 Field Guide: The Art of Dinosaurs appeared first on Past Time.
10:24 PM | The Fourth International Palaeontological Congress starts well
MENDOZA, ARGENTINA–After an excellent opening lecture last night by Dr. Beatriz Aguirre-Urreta (“Palaeontology in the Southern Hemisphere: Benchmarks in the History of Discovery and Research”), we got down to the technical talks today in the Mendoza Sheraton for the 4th International Paleontological Congress. There were many presentations to choose from, as usual, so I had […]
10:18 PM | Syntax Eases Communication (Well duh)
Yesterday I posted [here] a description of Maggie Tallerman's retort [abstract here] to the thought-firsters' idea that language evolved as a means of improved thought by allowing concepts to combine; we only later developed a way to externalize the thought...
8:10 PM | Postdoc: Institute for Environmental Genomics, University of Oklahoma
Postdoctoral Positions Available at the University of Oklahoma Multiple postdoctoral positions are available at the Institute for Environmental Genomics (IEG) and Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, the University of Oklahoma (OU) located in Norman, Oklahoma. The city of Norman is a university town with approximately 100,000 people and easy access to Oklahoma City, OK and Dallas, TX, […]
6:02 PM | Science and Religion Blah Blah Blah
A perennial question, a constant product of the click-bait-and-outrage factory known as internet, that has been, and perhaps forever will be posed, answered, yelled about, and generally used to beat the life and enthusiasm out of so many reasonably evolutionary biologists is “CAN RELIGION AND SCIENCE (PARTICULARLY EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY FOR SOME REASON) COEXIST??!?!!?!!?” The answer […]
5:37 PM | Water, water everything
This time of year is tricky for gardening especially when mild warm weather predominates, but things aren't growing so much. Gardens just don't look like it's the end of September out there, and it's easy to get lulled into complacency. So here's the thing: keep those newly planted trees and shrubs, especially conifers, well watered. Remember winter survival is more about desiccation than it is about cold. Deciduous plants drop all those water-wasting leaves, but most conifers […]
5:17 PM | Postdoc: Yeast Evolutionary Genomics
The Hittinger Lab, Univ of Wisconsin-Madison is seeking a highly motivated postdoctoral researcher with an exceptional background in bioinformatics, functional genomics, or evolutionary genomics. Experience analyzing Illumina sequence data, computer programming proficiency, and training in ecological or evolutionary genetics are highly desirable. The lab recently received generous funding for yeast evolutionary genomics research from the National Science […]
4:36 PM | Birdbooker Report 339-40
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 […]
2:18 PM | Neat news from the TetZoo-sphere
Here are some amazing things that me and my friends have been talking about lately. They all concern fascinating discoveries or insights into unusual aspects of tetrapod behaviour. We’ll start... -- Read more on
1:54 PM | Island Biogeography in the Era of Humans
In some ways, islands provide a ready-made laboratory for studying evolution. Th...
12:54 PM | ESC/ESS JAM 2014 Day 1 photos

September 28, 2014

10:18 PM | The Essence of Christopher Gillberg’s E.S.S.E.N.C.E. Theory
“While in the past, child psychiatry had little interest in operationalised diagnosis, recent trends have made categorical diagnosis an integral part of everyday clinical and research practice. So focused are […]
10:18 PM | Chasing Leprechaun Gold
Have linguists been hunting for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? The argument in favor of language beginning as personal thought is now dead and should be buried. What? You have always assumed language began as...
1:02 PM | Muscling in
I know I haven’t posted anything for a while but I’ll get back into the swing of things very soon, I promise. Now that writing a dissertation is out of the way, I thought I’d write a little something about muscles, namely how they work and how they can be specialised for a particular function. […]
193 Results