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Posts

April 07, 2014

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6:04 PM | Speciation in Reverse
I don’t usually advertise my Accumulating Glitches posts on here, but I decided to make an exception for today’s post. …Continue reading →

Kleindorfer S, O'Connor JA, Dudaniec RY, Myers SA, Robertson J & Sulloway FJ (2014). Species collapse via hybridization in Darwin's tree finches., The American naturalist, 183 (3) 325-41. PMID:

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5:45 PM | Talking “rubbish” with the environment minister
Sitting down with Minister of Environment Laila Iskandar at Alexandria’s ongoing Biovision conference, she talked to Nature Middle East about going back to the basics in terms of solid waste sorting and recycling–a thing that was overdue, according to her.  Read more
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4:49 PM | Biology without Darwin?
.Variety is both the spice of life and the basis of evolution. Varieties are what survives natural selection's perpetual test. So without variety there can be no evolution. I see that Derek Bickerton has a paper in the latest issue...
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4:42 PM | Speciation in Reverse
Darwin's finches have become a textbook example in evolutionary biology, specia...
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4:41 PM | Birdbooker Report 315
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 […]
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3:58 PM | A Wooster Geologist is finally warm enough
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–When I left Wooster on Saturday morning it was 34°F and overcast. It was sunny and an astonishing 84°F when I arrived in Tel Aviv on Sunday afternoon. That additional 50 degrees felt very good indeed after a winter of polar vortices and late-March snowstorms. I’m now based in the Ramon Suites Hotel […]
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1:23 PM | Ignore the sunk costs
Edge has a great set of short notes by various authors on how Daniel Kahneman has influenced them. It is worth flicking through them all, but excerpts from my two favourites are below. First, some excellent advice via Jason Zweig: Anyone who has ever collaborated with him tells a version of this story: You go […] The post Ignore the sunk costs appeared first on Evolving Economics.
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12:53 PM | Hummingbirds: still evolving endless forms most wonderful | @GrrlScientist
A new study finds that the rising Andes is tied to the rapid speciation of hummingbirds. This study also predicts that hummingbirds will evolve twice as many species as what we see today."There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are […]

McGuire J.A., Witt C.C., Remsen, Jr. J.V., Corl A., Rabosky D.L., Altshuler D.L. & Dudley R. (2014). Molecular Phylogenetics and the Diversification of Hummingbirds, Current Biology, DOI:

Hoorn C., Wesselingh F.P., ter Steege H., Bermudez M.A., Mora A., Sevink J., Sanmartin I., Sanchez-Meseguer A., Anderson C.L. & Figueiredo J.P. & (2010). Amazonia Through Time: Andean Uplift, Climate Change, Landscape Evolution, and Biodiversity, Science, 330 (6006) 927-931. DOI:

Mayr G. (2004). Old World Fossil Record of Modern-Type Hummingbirds, Science, 304 (5672) 861-864. DOI:

Doorn G.S.V., Noest A.J. & Hogeweg P. (1998). Sympatric speciation and extinction driven by environment dependent sexual selection, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 265 (1408) 1915-1919. DOI:

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11:36 AM | Raw milk enthusiasts want you to drink a bacterial stew. Yum.
Sometimes it is astonishing how ignorant people can be. Now it's the turn of fans of "raw milk," a new fad that is sweeping the U.S.I still remember reading milk cartons as a kid, and asking my parents what "pasteurized" meant. While I don't remember exactly what they said, I'm sure they told me that it made the milk safe by killing bacteria. Even as a kid, I understood that bacteria in my milk were probably a bad thing.Louis Pasteur is one of the most famous scientists in history, and rightly […]
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11:30 AM | How to break out of a scientific career rut, Part 3: Investigate internal barriers
 Contributor, Ben Thomas  … Read more
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10:18 AM | Nature Futures Competition: The Winners Revealed
At the start of this year, Futures ran a competition challenging readers to write a science-fiction story in just 200 characters. After a difficult judging session, we’re pleased to award first prize to Catherine Rastovski, who wins a year’s subscription to Nature plus a gift voucher for the Futures 1 eBook. Five runners up — Adam Flanders, Arran Frood, Judith Reeves-Stevens, Anssi Sajama and Chaim Schramm— also receive gift vouchers for Futures 1.  Read more

April 06, 2014

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11:11 PM | The wrong trousers (1985)
“Women cannot complain about men any more until they start getting better taste in them.” Bill Maher There’s one episode from my distant past that I’ve put off sharing, partly because most of the details are blurry, and partly because … Continue reading →
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4:38 PM | Heron rookery in early spring
The Phactors, other guests, and our country-living hosts all took a pre-dinner nature walk to work up an appetite. The destination was the banks of a nearby river where the great blue herons had returned to their rookery high in a sycamore. For those of you who have never seen a great blue heron please understand that they are a big bird about 1.2-1.4 m tall and 2-4 kg in mass. This shows the top of the tree and less than half of the nests in the rookery. There were 20-30 herons present at […]
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2:58 PM | The “Race” to Discover Cortical Dysplasias in Autism
An article was published recently in The England Journal of Medicine by Eric Courchesne’s group, investigating what is essentially evidence of dysplasia (underdevelopment due to prolonged progenitor proliferation at the […]
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1:20 PM | A week of links
Again, closer to a month of links: A great set of essays triggered by David Dobbs’s assault on the selfish gene. Tim Harford on big data. His piece on behavioural economics is also worth reading. Take the hype with a grain of salt. The Greg Clark show continues – an interview on Social Science bites, […] The post A week of links appeared first on Evolving Economics.
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5:59 AM | Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: A brontothere jaw fragment (Miocene of South Dakota)
This fossil has been sitting in a glass case outside my office door for nearly three decades. Only this year — in the desire to find more Fossils of the Week — did I bother to open the cabinet and take it out for a looksie. On the reverse was a 19th century label: “Titanotherium […]
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5:05 AM | Sunday Chess Problem
I guess it’s been clear that I haven’t been in a blogging mood lately. There’s plenty of fodder out there, but somehow every time I sit down to write about it I suddenly remember I had something else to do. But that doesn’t mean that fans of Sunday Chess Problem should suffer! So this week…
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2:20 AM | Good reading on the history of the terms/concepts of prokaryote & eukaryote
Preparing for some lectures at UC Davis for Biodiversity and The Tree of Life course and came across this: The Prokaryote-Eukaryote Dichotomy: Meanings and Mythology by Jan Sapp which I had not really scrutinized before.  It is quite good and has lots of information on the history of microbiology and the twisted history of the prokaryote - eukaryote distinction.  Veryvery interesting stuff.  And freely available in Pubmed Central. Thank you thank you thank you Pubmed […]

April 05, 2014

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5:44 PM | It takes a village - and if you are interested in plants - here is one
Continuing to be impressed with PlantVillage. Their mantra isPlantVillage is built on the premise that the all knowledge that helps people grow food should be openly accessible to anyone on the planet. PlantVillage is a user moderated Q & A forum dedicated to the goal of helping people grow their own food. It is an open freely available resource that helps you solve all your plant related questions.I first found out about this when David Hughes was visiting UC Davis a few weeks ago to […]
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5:37 PM | name555
I woke up from a nap with this phrase from the song “Jackson” running through my head. We got married in a fever Hotter than a pepper sprout Not the whole song, just those two lines, over and over.  I hadn’t heard the song recently (probably not since seeing Walk the Line), so it probably was not the random recombination of daily information that seems to be a part of long-term memory consolidation during dreams.  I’d felt like crap all day, straight through my […]

April 04, 2014

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11:43 PM | Declarations Are Not Reality
Several years ago (I say ‘several’ and that’s what we’re going stick with!), something relatively important happened in my life. I became a legal adult. One morning, I woke up (I was born 18 years earlier at 4 in the morning) and I was an adult. I had to fill out this card that said […]
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11:31 PM | A new record!
Well, anything on the cheerful side is most welcome right now, and last month's blog traffic was a new record totaling over 27,000 page reads, an average of just under 900 pages per day.  Thanks people!  Now this blog is not really the big time, although closing in on a million hits since its inception, but TPP doesn't flog any products, have any ads, take any money or prisoners. It reassures TPP that so many seriously disturbed, desperate, people are out there. ;-)  As […]
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11:17 PM | TGIF on a dreary week
Today has been a mixed bag, an ending of a semi-miserable week. It's been 40-ish all day, gray, damp, and very windy all day. Today was a research symposium for biology students, and TPP was pleased to see how many students had done research on botanical subjects. Some colleagues still have difficulty believing that a significant segment of our majors like plants. And best of all, the students knew what they were talking about and they all seemed to really like their […]
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6:47 PM | Minnesota winter as a series of cinematic genres
(Update: Cross-posted.)First snowfall: Romantic comedy. You meet cute when you feel the first flakes against your cheek. The fresh snow cover makes everything look new and crisp and innocent. You take a long evening walk through the park, watching the falling snow dance in the light of the street lamps. You stop to make snow angels. There is a snowball fight, but afterwards everyone is still friendly. Towards the end, adorable children come out to play.The cold snap: Heist. Going outdoors […]
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6:21 PM | Spite Is Good. Spite Works.
Evolutionary theorists . . . are studying what might be viewed as the brighter side of spite, and the role it may have played in the origin of admirable traits like a cooperative spirit and a sense of fair play.
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3:29 PM | The Coelacanth has had its day
Who hasn’t wanted to bring an extinct species back into existence? Sure, there are risks, both physical (T. rex and pathogens) and ethical (Neanderthals), and sure, we’re better off without some species (smallpox and mososaurs), but how about the gastric brooding frog and the thylacine and the dodo and so on? Surely the world would be a better – or at least not worse – place if we hadn’t lost them. Enter the de-extinctionmovement, which seeks to bring extinct […]
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2:00 PM | Friday Coffee Break
  Well this is terrifying. Ebola outbreak in Guinea, that is both unexpected and spreading at an alarming rate. (From Sarah) An eight year old girl tries to make the wooly mammoth the state fossil of North Carolina… and is blocked by state senators? (From Sarah) APRIL FOOLS! Or not. A few science claims by […]
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1:59 PM | Chief Scientific Adviser to the European Commission discusses evidence-based policy and nurturing and supporting a European scientific culture
Professor Anne Glover joined the European Commission as Chief Scientific Adviser to the President in January 2012, and is the first person to hold this position.  Read more
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1:41 PM | Lunar dust mission still chasing mystery of ‘horizon glow’
NASA is preparing one last blast for its expired Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft — a controlled crash into the Moon’s surface, probably on 21 April. But before it goes, LADEE will take a final shot at unraveling one of the top mysteries it went to the Moon to uncover.  Read more
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1:21 PM | European Commission report urges legal reform to help scientists text-mine research papers
European copyright law should change to help researchers use computer programs to extract facts and data from published research papers, legal experts have urged in a report [pdf] for the European Commission published today.  Read more
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