July 06, 2014

12:14 AM | The karst topography around Guiyang, China
GUIYANG, CHINA — I find this karstic landscape enchanting. Photo taken at the airport.

July 05, 2014

1:22 PM | True Facts About The Fruit Bat
SUMMARY: This amusing video shares a few facts about the amazing megabats -- the largest flying mammals alive in the world today. Orphaned baby fruit bats. Screen capture. Once again, it's caturday, so let's watch some animals doing stuff! Today's animals are megachiropterans, or "big winged" bats -- more commonly known as megabats or fruit bats. Unlike the bats that pop into most people's minds when they hear the word, the megabats are frugivorous (fruit-eaters) or nectarivorous […]
8:43 AM | Hamsters, pizzas & playgrounds | @GrrlScientist
Dwarf hamsters are small but they have an outsized effect on one's life.Once again, it's caturday, which means it's time for us to relax whilst recovering from that most recent post-World Cup game hangover by watching animals doing fun stuff!This week's cute animal videos were inspired by a piece I wrote a little while ago, about a study of wheel-running behaviour in wild mice. Although that study focused on wild mice, I included a video of some dwarf hamsters running on a wheel, mostly because […]

July 04, 2014

8:53 PM | Blackberry or raspberry?
Well, there's a simple answer and a more complicated answer. Both are species (more than one) in the genus Rubus, but it has hundreds of species that also includes dewberries, cloudberries, salmon berries, thimble berries, and more, including many hybrids like boysenberry. Locally it's a bit easier. Raspberries, both cultivated and wild, red, black, orange, purple, or gold, are thimble shaped; the drupelets pull free of the receptacle, so the fruit is hollow. The receptacle stays […]
2:14 PM | Reply to Rick Warren and Other Clergy Re Hobby Lobby and Federal Grants
Rick Warrent and others sent the most genteel invitation to perpetuate rank discrimination to President Obama this week. It is really quite eloquently stated. It asks that religious groups receiving federal grant money be allowed to continue discriminating against LGBT people, as a waiver from rules that would apply to others receiving those grants. My […]
1:19 PM | An evening dinner in Guiyang, China
GUIYANG, CHINA — After the long flights from Shenyang via Nanjing, Team China (let’s just call it that!) arrived in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province. We had an excellent view of the surrounding karstic mountains. I hope to have images of these tomorrow because they are simply enchanting. Above is our evening dinner, hosted […]
1:00 PM | What we’re reading: Fish gut microbes, Denisovan origins of Tibetan altitude adaptation, and the curious costs of journal subscriptions
In the journals Bolnick, D. I., L. K. Snowberg, P. E. Hirsch, C. L. Lauber, R. Knight, J. G. Caporaso, and R. Svanbäck. 2014. Individuals’ diet diversity influences gut microbial diversity in two freshwater fish (threespine stickleback and Eurasian perch). … Continue reading →
1:00 PM | Friday Coffee Break: Moss piglets, Nye versus Newton, and Darwin versus racism
Here’s what we’ll be chatting about while we lie on the beach with a latte. From Sarah: Did you know water bears are also known as moss piglets? How did they get so many cute names??? Newton vs. Nye in an epic rap battle. (Although, come on, Newton would beat just about anyone. Maybe not […]
1:00 PM | Stuff online, what’s in your library? edition
This week, at The Molecular Ecologist: #Evol2014 in tweets, and how “Markov chain” methods estimate tricky probability distributions. And, at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense: The first post in an in-depth series on the evolutionary claims in A Troublesome Inheritance. … Continue reading →
8:06 AM | Carnival of Evolution #73: World Cup Edition
The 73rd Carnival of Evolution has been hosted by Pleiotropy, in a tour de force “World Cup Edition” of the Carnival.  The good news: we were a top-seeded team, tied for second place, based on the all-around evolutionary excellence of our nominated post, Katie Piechel’s “Add It Up: The Genetic Basis of Ecological Speciation”.  Go check out the Carnival to see how we did.In honor of the World Cup, we have two additional items for your delectation:The […]
5:19 AM | Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: A barnacle and sponge symbiosis from the Middle Jurassic of Israel
[Programing note: Wooster's Fossil of the Week is now being released on Fridays to correspond with the popular Fossil Friday on Twitter and other platforms.] This week’s fossil is again from the Matmor Formation (Middle Jurassic, Callovian) of southern Israel. (What can I say? We have a lot of them!) We are looking above at […]

July 03, 2014

10:23 PM | Shenyang, China
SHENYANG, CHINA — My first post from astonishing China. I’ve been here about a day and a half now and am simply floored by all I’ve seen and experienced. I’ve seen a fair bit of the world, but no place like China. I’m providing here just a few images of Shenyang as just a taste […]
9:32 PM | Where did all these Phorusrhacos come from?
If, as I have, you’ve spent copious time wandering the British countryside, visiting amusement parks and visitor attractions that feature life-sized ‘prehistoric animals’, you’ll surely have seen all... -- Read more on
9:02 PM | My #Evol2014 talk on population genomic “scans” for local adaptation
This year at the Evolution meetings, for the very first time, the conference organizers offered presenters the option of having our talks filmed by graduate student volunteers. Naturally, I had to try this out—and the result isn’t half bad! If … Continue reading →
10:22 AM | The Paradox of Practices That Work but Don’t Spread
If cultural evolution is the survival of best practices, why was a highly successful program killed?
7:36 AM | Shark Fossil Reverses Bony Fish Ancestry
An ancient shark bears close resemblance to bony fishes, suggesting a new view of the evolution of jawed vertebrates.
6:25 AM | Journal Club: DNA analysis indicates Bigfoot may be a big fake
SUMMARY: A newly-published genetic analysis of hair samples suspected as being from a cryptic primate known by various names such as "bigfoot" or "yeti", has revealed they actually originated from dogs, horses, bears or other well known mammals. A newly-published genetic analysis of hair samples suspected as being from a cryptic primate known by various names such as "bigfoot" or "yeti", has revealed they actually originated from dogs, horses, bears or other well known mammals. The analysis was […]

July 02, 2014

9:21 PM | The One That (Almost) Got Away
Even though all specimens in a natural history collection (should) have a label explaining where, when & how they were captured, sometimes that doesn’t include the full story behind how a specimen came to rest in the collection. Consider the following. While enjoying a few cold beverages on a hot summer’s evening on the porch [...]
8:28 PM | The Urvogel’s Old, New Clothes
On May 5th, 1877, the German paleontologist Karl Zittel first laid eyes on one of the most stunning …
5:35 PM | Dear United States Citizenry,
This is predominantly a blog about science; however, as we are all part of the human race, we all have the duty to speak up when we feel a group […]
4:01 PM | Much rooms
June was the 5th wettest on record, most because of a couple of inches of rain right at the end of the month. The gardens, new plants, and some replants got plenty of water, and the lily pond even had to be drained a little. Wish it could be kept for later. Of course, our gardens have lots of mulch, which means lots of nice organic material to decompose, so the fungi have been busy too. The shredded wood mulch has provided us with some nice fungal fruiting bodies. Remember, […]
1:49 PM | Wordless Wednesday: I study the most adorable species in the world – Pouched Rats
We can’t all study the most adorable, photogenic rat ever known, so I generously share all of the cuteness with you. Pouched Rats – the most adorable little beasties! -- Read more on
12:00 PM | How Do Mosquitoes Find You?
Biology concepts – semiochemicals, hematophagy, proboscis, thermosensing, TRPA1Sure, mosquitoes suck blood and pass along malaria that kill more humans than any other infectious disease. But would it be good to get rid of them. They provide food for birds – one scientist suggests that elimination of Arctic mosquitoes could reduce northern bird populations by 50%. And mosquitoes pollinate flowers too, like blueberries and cranberries. See, they’re not all bad.We can start our […]

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Albeny-Simões D, Murrell EG, Elliot SL, Andrade MR, Lima E, Juliano SA & Vilela EF (2014). Attracted to the enemy: Aedes aegypti prefers oviposition sites with predator-killed conspecifics., Oecologia, 175 (2) 481-92. PMID:

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1:37 AM | DNA analysis reveals Bigfoot is a big fake | @GrrlScientist
A newly-published genetic analysis of hair samples suspected as being from a cryptic primate known by various names such as "bigfoot" or "yeti", has revealed they actually originated from dogs, horses, bears or other well known mammals. A newly-published genetic analysis of hair samples suspected as being from a cryptic primate known by various names such as "bigfoot" or "yeti", has revealed they actually originated from dogs, horses, bears or other, well known, mammals. The analysis was […]

Sykes B.C., Mullis R.A., Hagenmuller C., Melton T.W. & Sartori M. (2014). Genetic analysis of hair samples attributed to yeti, bigfoot and other anomalous primates, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0161

MacLeod N. (2014). Molecular analysis of ‘anomalous primate’ hair samples (commentary), Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0843

Hailer F., B. M. Hallstrom, D. Klassert, S. R. Fain, J. A. Leonard, U. Arnason & A. Janke (2012). Nuclear Genomic Sequences Reveal that Polar Bears Are an Old and Distinct Bear Lineage, Science, 336 (6079) 344-347. DOI:


July 01, 2014

9:10 PM | Cargo bikes
Bicycles designed to haul cargo are pretty unusual even around a bike-popular college town.  TPP's own BikeE has a nice nylon pack behind the seat and it's big enough to pick up produce at the farmer's market near the university. But beyond that, carrying more stuff is a bit tough.  Here's a pretty cool looking cargo bike that puts the load low and amid ships.  Looks like it could certainly handle several bags of groceries. However, the sprawl of our urban areas can defeat […]
1:00 PM | A guide to the science and pseudoscience of A Troublesome Inheritance, part I: The genetics of human populations
This is the first in a series of guest posts in which Chris Smith will examine the evolutionary claims made in Nicholas Wade’s book A Troublesome Inheritance. Chris is an Associate Professor of Evolutionary Ecology at Willamette University. He uses population genetic approaches to understand coevolution of plants and insects, and he teaches the interdisciplinary course “Race, Racism, and Human […]

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Moreno-Estrada A., Fouad Zakharia, Jacob L. McCauley, Jake K. Byrnes, Christopher R. Gignoux, Patricia A. Ortiz-Tello, Ricardo J. Martínez, Dale J. Hedges, Richard W. Morris & Celeste Eng & (2013). Reconstructing the population genetic history of the Caribbean, PLoS Genetics, 9 (11) e1003925. DOI:

Novembre J., Katarzyna Bryc, Zoltán Kutalik, Adam R. Boyko, Adam Auton, Amit Indap, Karen S. King, Sven Bergmann, Matthew R. Nelson & Matthew Stephens & (2008). Genes mirror geography within Europe, Nature, 456 (7218) 98-101. DOI:

Rosenberg N.A., Sohini Ramachandran, Chengfeng Zhao, Jonathan K. Pritchard & Marcus W. Feldman (2005). Clines, clusters, and the effect of study design on the inference of human population structure, PLoS Genetics, 1 (6) e70. DOI:

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Tishkoff S.A., F. R. Friedlaender, C. Ehret, A. Ranciaro, A. Froment, J. B. Hirbo, A. A. Awomoyi, J.-M. Bodo, O. Doumbo & M. Ibrahim & (2009). The genetic structure and history of Africans and African Americans, Science, 324 (5930) 1035-1044. DOI:

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1:00 PM | Bayesian Markov-chain Monte Carlo in population genetics
This is a guest post by Arun Sethuraman, a postdoctoral associate with Jody Hey, studying statistical models for divergence population genetics in the Department of Biology at Temple University. You can also find him on Twitter, and on his short story blog. Prompted by the great response … Continue reading →
12:59 PM | Wooster Geologist en route to China
DETROIT AIRPORT, MICHIGAN — My long anticipated trip to China has started. I have a bit of a wait in Detroit before boarding a 14-hour flight to Beijing, followed by a connection on to Shenyang. I am visiting China by invitation from geologists at Northeastern University in Shenyang. My host is Yongli Zhang, an invertebrate […]
4:24 AM | Teenagers are crazy because they’re just like lizards
Remember that time you went to the zoo, and there were these huge reptiles, like maybe Komodo Dragons, and they just sat around doing nothing? Except every so often one of them would make some vaguely unpleasant noise, or snap viciously at one of the others? And finally it dawned on you that it was […]
12:54 AM | The Dining Habits of a Jurassic Sea Dragon
When I was a fossil-crazed tyke, I used to spend hours flipping through a set of LIFE Young …
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