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Posts

March 31, 2014

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5:27 PM | Fossils of Early Stick Insects
Stick insects are fascinating and beautiful creatures, exquisitely mimicking lea...
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5:01 PM | UN climate change report marks risks of a warm future
From shrinking glaciers to sea water becoming more acidic, climate change has already a notable imprint on Earth’s natural systems, according to a United Nations climate-science report released today. Projected 21st century warming poses risks – severe if the rise in atmospheric concentration of heat-trapping gases continues unabated – to future food security, human well-being and wealth, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Read more
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2:41 PM | Birdbooker Report 314
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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1:30 PM | Science is no excuse for Japan’s Antarctic whaling, court rules
Japan’s hugely controversial ‘scientific whaling’ programme is not actually scientific and must be stopped, the International Court of Justice ruled today.  Read more
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9:06 AM | A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems
Camille Parmesan and Gary Yohe. Nature 421: 37-42. A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems A few weeks ago Lynsey bribed me with some really very delicious cake to write a guest blog here. Well I say bribe, it’s quite an honour really, so I chose one of my all-time favourite papers […]
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3:44 AM | Sunday Chess Problem
Well, it’s eleven o’clock at night and I just remembered I forgot to do a Sunday Chess Problem for this week. So I guess we’ll have to go with one of those charming lightweights whose main point is a shocking key. This one was composed by Gerhardus Goethart in 1952. White is to play and…
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2:28 AM | A Blank Page
  The blank page, the biggest obstacle to my success. I’ve been thinking about this post for 4 years. I’ve reworked what I want to say countless times on my walk to and from the lab and considered ways to tie it all together while laying in bed staring at the ceiling, but, until last [...]
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1:27 AM | From the surface of stinky mud: diatoms, their parasites, and other comrades-in-silt
An advantage of having a, let’s say, ‘volatile’ memory is that you can sit back and do microscopy… on your own hard drive. When sampling is good, you have only so much time to... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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12:09 AM | Argentina’s Annual Ag Expo
During March 22-25 the main farming event in Argentina, Expoagro 2014, took place in Santa Fe state, and recent advances in agriculture and farming were highlighted. Farming is the main economic activity of Argentina, and biotechnology has played a central role in farm development and transitioning to a more precise form of agriculture. Local policies have allowed the use of genetically modified organisms, and that led to a green revolution in the 1990s, with incremental increases in […]

March 30, 2014

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7:50 PM | Your Skin Is More Important than You Thought It Was
Okay, so I think we all know what happens to this little goldfish when he jumps out of the fish tank and makes a mad dash for freedom. Aside from […]
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3:48 PM | The death of romance (2014)
This blog isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. True, it’s impossible to produce something that will be universally loved; even tea isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But I know, from a few exchanges online and one in real life, that some of … Continue reading →
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5:47 AM | Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: Thoroughly encrusted brachiopod from the Upper Ordovician of Indiana
Last week was an intensely bored Upper Ordovician bryozoan, so it seems only fair to have a thoroughly encrusted Upper Ordovician brachiopod next. The above is, although you would hardly know it, the ventral valve exterior of a common strophomenid Rafinesquina ponderosa from the Whitewater Formation exposed just south of Richmond, Indiana (locality C/W-148). I […]
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2:51 AM | Teachers Increase Misconceptions About Evolution
Evolution: Education and Outreach recently published an article by Tony Yates and Edmund Marek. The study is entitled “Teachers teaching misconceptions: a study of factors contributing to high school students’ acquisition of biological evolution-related misconceptions” (available in the open access journal here). Having been a high school science teacher and an adviser at several colleges […]

March 29, 2014

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11:16 PM | Ice is nice, and will suffice
This scene is enough to make you cry for a coniferous forest.  Here's a forest scene from Durham, NC, after a 2-day ice storm in early March this year.  Ouch!  It hurts just to look at this. Any tree that didn't get ripped limb by limb is bent in half.  Any time you want to complain about snow, just be thankful you're not a woody plant and it isn't ice. Of course, this might not seem so tragic if TPP hadn't spent most of the afternoon dragging winter fall branches from […]
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7:29 PM | You state/country is what you eat?
At first TPP thought that the maps might be trying to represent the diversity of foods characteristic of a particular country, but Australia is considerably more than some shrimp on the barbie.  Too bad the maps aren't that because that would be quite a challenge, but none the less these are still sort of interesting maps. But what is this? Lincolnland is garlic?  Wow, is that wrong.  Gilroy, California area maybe, but here abouts it's maize and soybeans, and Idaho has the maize […]
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7:17 PM | Why I don't like to pre-submit slides for talks - lessons from #AAASMoBE meeting
So - I gave a talk at a meeting on Thursday.  The meeting was called "Microbiomes of the Built Environment" and it was sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and run by AAAS. The meeting organizers, as is often the case, wanted me to submit my slides a few days in advance, in theory to make sure they were loaded into their system and that all worked OK.  Well, as usual, I did not do this.  I like to make my talks fresh - just before the meeting so that I can incorporate new […]
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3:51 PM | Ed Yong on mind-controlling parasites
Here at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense, we’re fascinated by all the weird, baroque ways that living things influence and coevolve with each other—so Ed Yong’s new TED talk about mind-controlling parasites is right up our alley. Just like his writing—currently on display at National Geographic‘s Phenomena, among many other venues—it’s a compendium of nifty […]
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11:21 AM | The aerial artistry of starling mumurations - video
At dusk, an ordinary field in Oxmoor, southern England, becomes extraordinary because of an astonishing aerial ballet by hundreds of thousands of shiny black birds.I've seen huge gatherings of European starlings -- known as murmurations -- many times, but I never tire of watching them: the marvelous shapes that these large clouds of birds create in the sky, and their astonishing ability to avoid colliding with each other -- a catastrophe that would certainly be fatal considering their small, […]
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5:42 AM | Brazilian Legs: Spider Taphonomy and Salinity
New research examines spider fossils from three localities representing ancient lakeside environments, and compares them to modern spiders drowned in different salinities were done to look for patterns in leg orientation.

March 28, 2014

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7:56 PM | Upright walking: a long-standing debate (pt. iv)
Spine-tingling. I’m there. This is the post you’ve been waiting for for weeks – what can the spine of primates can tell us about the way they get around? The spine is made of up a series of repeating bones (vertebrae) which are divided into regions roughly according to their shape. Humans have 7 cervical […]
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5:37 PM | Boldly brewing what no one has ever brewed before
OK, Klingon beer is mighty geeky even for a Star-Trek fan from days of yore.  But Klingon beer? If memory serves TPP rightly, Romulan ale was way more famous, but probably too hard to get the shipments across the neutral zone without shelf-life problems. TPP's Klingon is a bit rusty, but shouldn't beer be spelled "wornagh" or is that just phonetic? You know these little things do matter. So what do you think it tastes like? Supposedly brewed from rye, which is […]
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4:06 PM | What we publish
The editors of a scientific journal have an editorial prerogative to publish articles that fall under the editorial scope of the journal as they see it. But defining this scope in a way that is clear to those outside the editorial team can be difficult and any definition can become dated as science and the journal evolve. Here we discuss the scope of Nature Methods.  Read more
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3:36 PM | Under the covers (Nature revealed) – 27 March 2014
In this week’s Under the covers (Nature revealed) blog, which features weekly interviews with the art team at Nature, Art Director Kelly Krause explains the decision behind this week’s front cover choice on Quantum Cryptography.  Read more
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2:35 PM | Starry, starry night
Who doesn't know about Vincent's painting?  TPP took one look at this image, and von Gogh's painting came immediately to mind.  And it turns out this image was by a Vincent too, Vincent Brady.  But what is it other than pretty amazing?  Fireflies in time lapse. Wow! It's just too cool for words.  Check the link for many more equally mesmerizing images. And remember it's all about sex, finding and choosing mates, and the gaudier the better, an insect's summer cabaret. […]
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2:27 PM | New Books Party: books received this week
A veritable smörgåsbord of brilliant writing awaits you!Below the jump, I mention the books that arrived whilst I was traveling in London. They are gifts, review copies that arrived in the mail, or are purchases I made in London. These are the books that I may review in more depth later, either here or in print somewhere in the world. While birds, insects and mammals, evolved flight in their own ways, a fourth model labored hidden under the waves. It was a one-off, an aerial exotic, […]
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1:46 PM | Clarifying NPG’s views on moral rights and institutional open access mandates
We would like to clarify NPG’s support for open access, and our position of the moral rights of authors, following some concerns raised by Kevin Smith, Duke University’s Scholarly Communications Officer.  Read more
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1:00 PM | Friday Coffee Break: Sounding the alarm on global warming, gut microbes and radiation therapy, and life, uh, finding a way.
Here’s what we’ll be chatting about while we’re waiting in line for a latte. “For anybody who was already paying attention, the report contains no new science. But the language in the 18-page report, called ‘What We Know,’ is sharper, clearer and more accessible than perhaps anything the scientific community has put out to date.” […]
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1:00 PM | What we’re reading: Genomics for conservation, SNPs versus microsats, and imbalance in the peer-review ecosystem
In the journals Harrisson K.A., A. Pavlova, M. Telonis-Scott and P. Sunnucks. 2014. Using genomics to characterize evolutionary potential for conservation of wild populations. Evolutionary Applications. doi: 10.1111/eva.12149. … screening genome-wide variation should be a sensible approach that may provide … Continue reading →
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1:00 PM | Science online, bird's-eye view of peer review edition
This week, at The Molecular Ecologist An interview with Charles Goodnight, and a poll about peer review.And at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! A brood parasite that can actually help its hosts.Charming! A new dinosaur species is nicknamed "the chicken from Hell".Folks, we're really serious this time. The American Association for the Advancement of Science issues a sharply worded new report on the dangers of climate change.Hundreds of millions of dollars. What South Florida communities are […]
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12:30 PM | Building Relationships for Success in Science – The Ben Franklin Effect
Contributor Joanne Kamens  … Read more
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