July 04, 2014

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 […]

Maekawa E, Aonuma H, Nelson B, Yoshimura A, Tokunaga F, Fukumoto S & Kanuka H (2011). The role of proboscis of the malaria vector mosquito Anopheles stephensi in host-seeking behavior., Parasites & vectors, 4 10. PMID:

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:

Olanga EA, Okal MN, Mbadi PA, Kokwaro ED & Mukabana WR (2010). Attraction of Anopheles gambiae to odour baits augmented with heat and moisture., Malaria journal, 9 6. PMID:

Liu C & Zwiebel LJ (2013). Molecular characterization of larval peripheral thermosensory responses of the malaria vector mosquito Anopheles gambiae., PloS one, 8 (8) PMID:

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 […]

Bryc K., T. Karafet, A. Moreno-Estrada, A. Reynolds, A. Auton, M. Hammer, C. D. Bustamante & H. Ostrer (2010). Genome-wide patterns of population structure and admixture among Hispanic/Latino populations, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107 (Supplement_2) 8954-8961. DOI:

Cavalli-Sforza L.L., C.R. Cantor, R.M. Cook-Deegan & M.-C. King (1991). Call for a worldwide survey of human genetic diversity: A vanishing opportunity for the Human Genome Project, Genomics, 11 (2) 490-491. DOI:

Evanno G. & J. Goudet (2005). Detecting the number of clusters of individuals using the software structure: a simulation study, Molecular Ecology, 14 (8) 2611-2620. DOI:

Gagneux P., U. Gerloff, D. Tautz, P. A. Morin, C. Boesch, B. Fruth, G. Hohmann, O. A. Ryder & D. S. Woodruff (1999). Mitochondrial sequences show diverse evolutionary histories of African hominoids, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 96 (9) 5077-5082. DOI:

Moreno-Estrada A., J. C. Fernandez-Lopez, F. Zakharia, M. Sikora, A. V. Contreras, V. Acuna-Alonzo, K. Sandoval, C. Eng, S. Romero-Hidalgo & P. Ortiz-Tello & (2014). The genetics of Mexico recapitulates Native American substructure and affects biomedical traits, Science, 344 (6189) 1280-1285. DOI:

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:

Rosenberg N.A. (2002). Genetic structure of human populations, Science, 298 (5602) 2381-2385. DOI:

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:

Wang S., Mattias Jakobsson, Sohini Ramachandran, Nicolas Ray, Gabriel Bedoya, Winston Rojas, Maria V. Parra, Julio A. Molina, Carla Gallo & Guido Mazzotti & (2007). Genetic variation and population structure in Native Americans, PLoS Genetics, 3 (11) e185. DOI:

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 …

June 30, 2014

8:22 PM | Monday, monday
Monday started early when a cat woke TPP to tell him that a thunderstorm was approaching, a fact he would find out himself in another 10 to 15 minutes. She's got good hearing and is a little afraid of thunder. The morning news confirmed that here in Lincolnland politics particularly the state's gerrymandered election districts were not going change because a political hired gun of a legal persuasion managed to convince a judge that the half a million signatures, more than twice the […]
7:28 PM | Duikers once more
Time for another classic from the archives. This article originally appeared on Tet Zoo ver 2 back in August 2008 (my god… about six years ago), and appears here in tweaked, updated form.... -- Read more on
7:16 PM | “Experimental Evolution Amongst Plants” (1895)
Tl;dr: This post features my (thus far) favorite quote that I have found when doing historical work on experimental evolution. In his speech/article, Liberty Hyde Bailey argued that the truth of evolution had already been demonstrated… centuries ago as well as in the present day, not by the academic elite, but by those involved in the cultivation of […]
6:12 PM | A polymorphism persists in panmixia despite unfit heterozygotes
Discovering the genes that underlie phenotypic variation within species is increasingly common, but figuring out how they respond to natural selection is a major challenge. Stickleback researchers have been particularly successful at identifying genes or genomic regions of major phenotypic effect. The Pitx1 gene, for example, is known to influence pelvic girdle and spine development. QTL studies have revealed genomic regions underlying variation in phenotypes ranging from juvenile growth rate, […]
4:25 PM | Chilling Out With “Mammoths: Ice Age Giants”
Mammoths and I go way back, not quite to the Ice Age but at least to the late 1970s with my family’s visits to the University of Wisconsin Geology Museum, and Milwaukee Public Museum, to name two prominent places that inspired me. And one of my favourite science books had a colourful mammoth painting on […]
3:28 PM | Urban Science Adventure: 100+ things to do outside
It’s summer. The kids are out of school. You want to keep them engaged and active. Most parents also want to keep them on track academically, but not necessarily with a strong hand approach to... -- Read more on
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