September 04, 2014

10:53 AM | Pregnant Mascarene petrel shows off ginormous egg bump as she soars over open seas: picture | @GrrlScientist
Ornithological paparazzi snapped photos of the critically endangered seabird south of Réunion Island in the southern Indian Ocean.A critically endangered Mascarene petrel, Pseudobulweria aterrima, with a very pregnant egg bump is taking centre stage by storm in the ornithological world on Thursday. This mysterious seabird was expected to lay her egg and she lays only one egg per season within hours after being photographed on 22 December 2012 by ornithological paparazzi. Continue […]
9:47 AM | The biology of boom and bust
John Coates’s excellent The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust tells the story of the effect of hormones on decision making in finance. By the end of the book, the idea that traders are rational calculating machines driven by their brains is torn apart. As Coates shows, the divide […]

September 03, 2014

8:47 PM | The Great Gelato Challenge - Post game wrap up
TPP is surprised you could stand the suspense, but here it is, with time running out, with the lay-over in Rome coming to an end, so just before we departed Italy, Mrs. Phactor yanked victory from the freezer of defeat!  The little restaurant in one corner of the terminal had, much to Mrs. Phactor's surprise and delight, exactly 1 new flavor of gelato giving her exactly 30 different flavors of gelato in 30 days!  Now some people might want to put an asterisk because technically, […]
7:09 PM | Bizarre, Prehistoric Ratfish Chomped Prey with Buzzsaw Jaws
Helicoprion had saws for jaws. That’s really all there was to the 270 million year old ratfish’s dental …
6:18 PM | Reading Macroanalysis: Notes on the Evolution of Nineteenth Century Anglo-American Literary Culture
Matthew L. Jockers. Macroanalysis: Digital Methods & Literary History. University of Illinois Press, 2013. x + 192 pp. ISBN 978-0252-07907-8 I’ve compiled all the posts into a working paper. HERE’s the SSRN link. Abstract and introduction below. * * * * * Abstract: Macroanalysis is a statistical study of a corpus of 3346 19th Century […]
2:56 PM | Before there were none
SUMMARY: What was it like to witness a flock of passenger pigeons flying overhead? What did this spectacle look and sound like? Start by imagining a murmuration of starlings multiplied by ten thousand times ... The passenger pigeon was driven to extinction (by people, of course) one hundred years and two days ago, when the last individual, a captive-bred individual named Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo on 1 September 1914. One of the first things that astounds most people... Read more
2:00 PM | Feeling a little ill? Blame the trees (not just their pollen either)
A fungus called Cryptococcus gattii, has long known to be infective to humans… even though it’s found on trees. This has particularly been a problem in Southern California, where people have been getting sick from C. gattii for yeas, and no one knew which tree was harboring the fungus. Find out who the culprit is […]
1:53 PM | The Ghost of Plasticity Past, or Why Plasticity Inferences are too Plastic
Several months ago, I attended a meeting of the American Genetics Association organized by Robin Waples in Seattle, Washington. The theme for the meeting was “Evolution and Plasticity: Adaptive Responses by Species to Human-Mediated Changes to their Ecosystems.” The meeting was a particularly clear example to the current excitement about the role of plasticity (including epigenetics) in the evolutionary process – an enthusiasm that really crystalized around Mary Jane […]
12:46 PM | Before there were none | @GrrlScientist
What was it like to witness a flock of passenger pigeons flying overhead? What did this spectacle look and sound like? Start by imagining a murmuration of starlings multiplied by a thousand times ...The passenger pigeon was driven to extinction (by people, of course) one hundred years and two days ago, when the last individual, a captive-bred individual named Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo on 1 September 1914. One of the first things that astounds most people about passenger pigeons are […]
12:00 PM | Bacteria Are Intelligent Designers
Biology concepts – nature of science, flagella, intelligent design, irreducible complexity, motility, Gram+, Gram -, ion gradient You don’t believe it now, but in the weeks ahead we’re going to discuss how bacterial motility, plant reproduction, intelligence, and the location of your heart are all related to whips and eyelashes. Sounds preposterous, but give me a few posts and a little leeway and you’ll be amazed.Cheetahs can cover about 25 body lengths in a second, but […]

Eisele NA, Ruby T, Jacobson A, Manzanillo PS, Cox JS, Lam L, Mukundan L, Chawla A & Monack DM (2013). Salmonella require the fatty acid regulator PPARδ for the establishment of a metabolic environment essential for long-term persistence., Cell host & microbe, 14 (2) 171-82. PMID:

Lee LK, Ginsburg MA, Crovace C, Donohoe M & Stock D (2010). Structure of the torque ring of the flagellar motor and the molecular basis for rotational switching., Nature, 466 (7309) 996-1000. PMID:

Minamino T, Imada K, Kinoshita M, Nakamura S, Morimoto YV & Namba K (2011). Structural insight into the rotational switching mechanism of the bacterial flagellar motor., PLoS biology, 9 (5) PMID:

Carsiotis M, Weinstein DL, Karch H, Holder IA & O'Brien AD (1984). Flagella of Salmonella typhimurium are a virulence factor in infected C57BL/6J mice., Infection and immunity, 46 (3) 814-8. PMID:

3:25 AM | The US Postal Service Cares (actually this was kind of a nice gesture)
Well, this is a new one for me and my family.  We got some mail today.  My wife called me over this evening to tell me and said "it might make something good for my blog".  But it was very strange. From the US Postal Service.  In a plastic bag and the bag read "We care ..." see below:And inside of this was half of a piece of mail.  A card.  It felt very weird.  Like someone was censoring us but most likely some machine just ate the other half.FrontBackAdd […]
1:40 AM | Oldest Animal Muscle Found in Canada
The advent of musculature in metazoans (animals) allowed them to evolve more advanced forms of mobility, feeding, digestion, and other body processes.
12:11 AM | A Surprising Meeting at the Summit
Napoleon and the tsar meet at Tilsit to agree on their spheres of interest. (But Tolstoy still got a story to tell) Talk about a marriage of irreconcilables! PLOS Biology has published an article titled "How Could Language Have Evolved?"...

September 02, 2014

11:54 PM | Fabulous fungus and pesto pizza
It's been awhile since TPP blogged about food, so here's a nice recipe to consider especially if your F1 likes a meatless Monday dinner (except this week she missed it!). Isn't that a pretty pizza? And this is so simple, first just make your usual pizza dough. What? You don't make your own pizza dough? OK, take 2.5 cups flour, 1 cup warm water, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp sugar, 1 pkg/tbsp. yeast, and 2 tbsp. olive oil and mix in a large bowl until you have a sticky dough. Sprinkle […]
9:26 PM | Of pigeons, extinction, and lice
Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the extinction of one of our most iconic emblems, the Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius). The web is alive with tributes to Martha, the final individual of her species, and cautionary tales of conservation and how we should be working to prevent this happening to any other species. There has [...]
8:07 PM | Hot-spring bacteria reveal ability to use far-red light for photosynthesis
Originally posted on Science Post:Bacteria growing in near darkness use a previously unknown process for harvesting energy and producing oxygen from sunlight, scientists have discovered. The discovery lays the foundation for further research aimed at improving plant growth, harvesting energy from the sun, and understanding dense blooms like those now occurring on Lake Erie…
8:06 PM | Simply complex: The origin of our body axes
Originally posted on Science Post:Experimental biology owes much to the discovery of the freshwater polyp Hydra over 300 years ago. Hydra was first described by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek in 1702. In 1744 Abraham Trembley published a remarkable series of experiments on Hydra, the first to demonstrate regeneration, tissue transplantation and asexual reproduction in an…
8:04 PM | Evolution used similar molecular toolkits to shape flies, worms, and humans
Originally posted on Science Post:Although separated by hundreds of millions of years of evolution, flies, worms, and humans share ancient patterns of gene expression, according to a massive analysis of genomic data. Two related studies tell a similar story: even though humans, worms, and flies bear little obvious similarity to each other, evolution used…
7:58 PM | 40,000 Year Old Neanderthal #Hashtag Engravings from Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar
Originally posted on believed to have been made by Neanderthals more than 39,000 years ago is pictured in Gorham’s Cave, Gibraltar, in this handout photo courtesy of Stewart Finlayson of the Gibraltar Museum. Joaquín Rodríguez-Vidal and his colleagues have found a 40,000 year old pattern scratched in into the floor of a…
6:03 PM | Would you ban students from emailing you?
Developing successful student – professor interactions can be a very challenging aspect of teaching at the university level.  Getting students to ask questions and engage in a class is very hard, especially in large introductory courses.  One professor tried to combat this problem using a radical strategy, banning students from emailing her unless they were […]
4:21 PM | Endgame: Scientific Data “vs.” Conclusions
I’ll let the poll (prior post) run for a while but as it winds down I wanted to explain why I posted it: In the past, I’ve often run into scientists who, when defending their published or other research, respond something like this: “Yeah those data (or methods) might be wrong but the conclusions are […]
4:06 PM | Science Journal SPAM of the Week: the Journal of HIV/AIDS from Sci Forschen
Well, got this email this AM.  It is yet another spammy journal (I don't work on HIV/AIDS).  I particularly like the part where I am called an "eminent personality".Dear Dr. Jonathan Eisen,Greetings from the Journal of HIV/AIDS,We take great delight in inviting you to join the Editorial Board for the Journal of HIV/AIDS , which is an open access, peer reviewed journal managed by Sci Forschen.  Ensuring quality and accuracy for every submitted […]
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