Posts

February 06, 2015

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7:42 PM | Promoting literacy, but not in our neighborhood
TPP's walk to work takes one of three paths, all quite pleasant, two of which are green boulevard malls. It's good to switch things around, but generally, the eastern most street is taken to campus and the western most street taken home. The middle street, one where the Phactors lived for 22 years is seldom walked now for no good reason. At any rate, on the way to campus TPP walks past one yard where what looks like a doll house sits on a pole. It is a little free library; take a […]
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6:00 PM | A Toxic Relationship: Pufferfish Moms Poison Their Young (In A Good Way)
Life as a fish larva is tough. Your odds of survival are slim to none. First off, you can't swim all that well, so you're mostly-drifting around in the ocean hoping that, when it's time for you to settle down, you find yourself somewhere suitable. You're also really, really small — the perfect morsel for tons of other species, from jellies to krill and even other fish. And your parents? They just abandoned you, sent you and your hundreds of siblings into the harsh real world […]
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5:58 PM | Why an Ichthyosaur Looks Like a Dolphin
Textbooks aren’t known for their originality. They build on the basics, and often include the same standard examples …
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5:23 PM | An artichoke with legs: the pangolin
Some days I just need a pick me up. While others take to the internet and fine photos of kittens telling them to hang in there, I seek the adorable face of the pangolin. Also known as the spiny anteater, it is the only mammal wholly covered in scales. They resemble artichokes on legs. Oh […]
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4:48 PM | Questioning the Narrative of Antisocial Science: Featuring Lizards, Boats, and a Lawyer from Orlando.
There is a lot wrong with how scientists and the “public” perceive one other, and no shortage of commentators lamenting the state of this interaction. Just the other day, a survey showing substantial gaps between the opinions of scientists and … Continue reading →
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2:00 PM | Rescue me
Whiteley et al. (2015) review genetic rescue (GR), or the increase in population fitness (growth) owing to immigration of new alleles, in a new paper in TREE. Genetic rescue is a controversial and hasn’t been applied to any great extent … Continue reading →
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8:00 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Each of us descends many times over from a great many sexual despots. In every generation, we forget how much poorer we used to be. Regression and other related non-experimental pattern-finding methods of this type can sound hyper-technical and very gee-whiz (“support vector machines” – cool!), and they can serve various useful […]
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5:17 AM | Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: A Pleistocene octocoral holdfast from Sicily
My Italian colleague Agostina Vertino collected this beautiful specimen from the Pleistocene of Sicily and brought it to Wooster when she visited five years ago. It is the attaching base (holdfast) of the octocoral Keratoisis peloritana (Sequenza 1864). Octocorals (Subclass Octocorallia of the Class Anthozoa) are sometimes called “soft corals” because of their organic-rich, flexible […]
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4:25 AM | Just so! How the finch got it's beak.
While some might think the greatest challenge in science is to find an explanation for a particular phenomenon, I would argue that an even greater challenge is to discern from among many reasonable possibilities, which explanation is the correct one. That is, the problem isn’t so much “problems with no solutions” but rather “problems with too many solutions.” A recent trip to Galapagos and a recent paper on zebras have prompted me to ruminate on this topic.At the […]

February 05, 2015

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11:24 PM | News Bite: Giant dinosaur brain from Uzbekistan!
Click here to listen to the first Past Time News Bite! Researchers lead by Hans-Dieter Sues from the Smithsonian Institution described a wealth of new giant, long-necked dinosaur material from Western Asia (Uzbekistan). They were able to reconstruct what the brain looked like and discvered the dinosaur, part of the lineage called “titanosaurs”, is closely […] The post News Bite: Giant dinosaur brain from Uzbekistan! appeared first on Past Time.
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10:46 PM | Canadian Entomology Research Roundup: December 2014 – January 2015
As a graduate student, publishing a paper is a big deal.  After spending countless hours doing the research, slogging through the writing process, soliciting comments from co-authors, formatting the paper to meet journal guidelines, and dealing with reviewer comments, it’s nice to finally get that acceptance letter and know that your work is getting out there. We […]
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7:00 PM | Phonemes and Genomes
Human phonemes and genomes are thought to have evolved hand-in-glove out of Africa. Several recent studies have attempted to capture a picture of this global variation in languages and peoples, often supporting (and rejecting) a serial founder model (eg. see … Continue reading →
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5:21 PM | When Monkeys Surfed to South America
Long ago, about 36 million years before today, a raft of monkeys found themselves adrift in the Atlantic. …
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4:47 PM | Assessing risk and the anti-vax position
TPP grew up when measles and polio were real threats. Kids died of measles too. Every one of my grade school classrooms had at  least one student who had some form of paralysis from polio, so when the Salk vaccine became available parents wasted no time in getting their kids vaccinated. Polio has basically disappeared and the measles was almost eradicated in the USA 15 years ago and hasn't been a serious health problem for at least twice as long. This means that living within a well […]
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3:02 PM | February GENETICS Highlights
  The February issue of GENETICS is out now! Check out the highlights below of the full Table of Contents here.   A neuroprotective function of NSF1 sustains autophagy and lysosomal trafficking in Drosophila, pp. 511–522 Daniel T. Babcock, Wei Shen, and … Read MoreThe post February GENETICS Highlights appeared first on Genes to Genomes.
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2:30 PM | Night at the museum
Many population genetic and genomic studies document snapshots of a given population’s genetic diversity. Yet, there are many reasons to document changes over time in population parameters in response to perturbations, such as biological invasions (both in terms of the invader … Continue reading →
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8:00 AM | Obesity is not a public health problem
It has taken a while for this month’s Cato Unbound, “Can Public Policy Stop Obesity?“, to warm up. But Christopher Snowdon’s latest post is full of good material. He takes on the question of whether obesity is a drain on the public purse, whether we consumer high sugar soda because we have no no choice, and […]

February 04, 2015

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6:49 PM | Mike Sovic on what comes AftrRAD
We’ve recently been highlighting some discussions comparing different protocols for restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (RADseq). We’ve seen the pros and cons of multiple techniques, but what happens when you finally have thousands of shiny SNPs sitting on your hard drive? Multiple … Continue reading →
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6:32 PM | Giant Fossil Rodent Had an Awesome Bite
New York City rats are beasts of legendary size and ferocity. That reputation probably has more to do …
Editor's Pick
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3:58 PM | Persister: A sci-fi novel about cultural evolution and academic funding
Someone has written a sci-fi space opera about a serial killer that targets researchers of cultural evolution which is also a satire on the state of academic funding systems. That’s quite an action-packed sentence. Persister: Space Funding Crisis I by Casey Hattrey is a short novel set in the 45th century about a cultural evolution […]
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2:40 PM | Wordless Wednesday: Heavy Weight
-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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1:00 PM | An Immovable Moving Part- That’s Just Cilia!
Biological concepts – primary cilia, sterocilia, kinocilium, Usher syndrome, actin, microtubule, signal transduction, sensory receptor, mechanoreceptorThe USS Oriskany (above) was scuttled in 2006 to create an artificial reef off of Pensacola Florida. In 2012, the US government effectively ended its policy of creating artificial reefs this way because of concern for leaking toxins from the ships to the marine life. But is was a good way to find a new job for something broken.Naval vessels […]
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8:00 AM | Durant’s The Paleo Manifesto
As someone whose diet broadly (in an 80:20 way) reflects paleo principles, I consume the occasional book on the subject. The latest is John Durant’s The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health, which (thankfully) didn’t just repeat the same information you’ll hear over and over again if you dip your toes into the paleo literature. I won’t offer a […]
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12:34 AM | Save the sashimi: rising mercury levels in Hawaiian ahi indicate a global problem
Tuna are some of the most popular fishes on Earth. Globally, more than 4.3 million tonnes of tuna are caught every year, valued at more than $5.5 billion dollars. Yellowfin tuna, the species most commonly labeled as ahi in sushi restaurants nationwide, is the preferred tuna in developed nations like the US and the UK, but the world's favorite sashimi may soon be stricken from the menu, as scientists have found that mercury levels in tuna are rising at a rate of 3.8% or […]
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12:03 AM | The Herbal Supplements that Weren’t
I’ve never been a fan of herbal supplements (or a […]

February 03, 2015

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8:53 PM | Assessing assessment in higher education
In an article entitled “The walking dead in higher Ed” (whatever that means; it never says) Geoff Irvine tees off on what passes for assessment in higher education, and at the institutional level, it is indeed woeful. So what the ever-loving hell does this guy mean when he says “they [colleges and universities] can’t prove that students are learning”? That is what this faculty member has done for the past 35 years! TPP constantly assesses student […]
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2:21 PM | Did Marine Mammals Merge Molecularly? Maybe.
Morphological convergence is one of the most striking patterns in evolution. Just among mammals there are spectacular and bizarre examples of distantly related species that share surprisingly similar adaptations. I bet you’ve heard of saber-toothed cats. But what about marsupial saber-toothed cats? Raccoons are surely familiar, but have you heard of raccoon dogs? Or the earless, eyeless oddity that […]
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1:22 PM | Some thoughts on ‘three parent babies’
The UK government votes today on whether to pass legislation allowing mitochondrial replacement – a remarkable new technique (actually 2 techniques) that may combat mitochondrial disease. Both processes involve inserting the affected mother’s nucleus into a new egg, containing healthy mitochondria. The popular … Continue reading →
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12:54 PM | Life, death, and DNA methylation
You have a molecular clock ticking inside of you and, if you read it properly, it can predict how much longer you will live. Want to know how to read it? Well, grab your DNA methylation profiler of choice, measure … Continue reading →
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1:00 AM | Sciencespeak: Lazarus taxon
It’s a science fiction staple. An intrepid explorer is walking through the woods when they stumble across an …
Editor's Pick
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