November 22, 2014

8:00 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Big ideas are destroying international development. Dream smaller. Appealing to my biases – the skeptics guide to institutions Part 1 and Part 2. Most published results in finance are false. Be mean, look smarter. Constructing illusions. Predicting complex genotypes from genomic data – for those who confuse these two statements: “The brain is complex and […]

November 21, 2014

8:37 PM | Lucky Find Uncovers a Marvelous Fossil Mammal
Mesozoic mammals were fascinating little beasts. They burrowed, climbed, glided, and swam through the Age of Dinosaurs, not …
Editor's Pick
5:00 PM | They’ll let anything through peer review these days
… where “they” are the hordes of bogus pay-to-publish journals that seem to be spamming every .edu email address (especially those connected to corresponding authors in real journals) with invitations to submit. Submission spam from the International Journal of Advanced … Continue reading →
2:59 PM | New books Party: Books that arrived recently | @GrrlScientist
Today I share my first impressions of books about urban birds, materials science and a children’s dystopian novel that was recently adapted into a film.Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods With Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers, and Other Wildlife by John Marzluff [Yale University Press, 2014; Guardian bookshop; Amazon UK hardcover; Amazon US hardcover/kindle US] Continue reading...
2:08 PM | Why Cultural Evolution Needs a Distinction Between “Genes” and “Phenotypes”
I’m thinking I’m about to burn out on cultural evolution, so this will be relatively short and informal. * * * * * Ever since I began thinking about a Darwinian process for cultural evolution back in the mid-1990s I’ve insisted on making a distinction between phenotypic entities (which I’m now calling “phantasms”) and genotypic […]
2:00 PM | Science online, blood and grape salad edition
This week at The Molecular Ecologist: The new genomic story of cat domestication, the evolution of salamander-algae symbiosis, and a recap of The Entomological Society of America meeting. Two steps forward, one step back. The FDA may soon let gay … Continue reading →
1:30 PM | The latest gadget for the molecular ecologist’s toolkit
Designing a sampling scheme to collect an organism of interest for a population genetic/genomic study can be fraught with difficulty. How best to sample? Randomly? Or, along a grid? How many individuals to sample? Thirty? Or, perhaps, the sample size … Continue reading →
8:37 AM | Repeated, extremely biased ratio of M:F at meetings from SFB 680 "Evolutionary Innovations" group #YAMMM
Well, this is disappointing, to say the least - there is a conference coming up in July 2015 on "Forecasting Evolution":  SFB 680 | Molecular Basis of Evolutionary Innovations at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon.Here is the listed lineup of invited speakers:Andersson (Uppsala University), (NOTE I AM ASSUMING THIS IS DAN ANDERSSON)Trevor Bedford (Hutchinson Cancer Research Center), Jesse Bloom (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center), Arup Chakraborty (MIT)Michael Desai […]
4:35 AM | Wooster’s Fossils of the Week: A trace fossil from the Ordovician of Estonia
The fossils above have been in a previous post as examples of hyolith internal molds from the Middle Ordovician of northern Estonia. I collected them on my first visit to the Baltic countries in 2006. This week I want to recognize them again, but this time for the squiggly trace fossils you can just make […]

November 20, 2014

11:21 PM | Cricetomyines: the African pouched rats and mice
Sometimes, I pick up Volume II of Walker’s Mammals of the World, go to page 1400 or 1500 or thereabouts and look at all the obscure Old World rats and mice. You might have done the same thing. If you... -- Read more on
8:42 PM | The differences between fierce and friendly rats
In the early 1970s, a couple of hundred wild rats near the Siberian city of Novosibirsk were rounded up by scientists for an ambitious experiment to understand how animals evolve during domestication. Dimitry Belyaev and his colleagues—known for their related project … Read MoreThe post The differences between fierce and friendly rats appeared first on Genes to Genomes.
7:43 PM | Gotta get one of these! Starry, starry bike path
TPP often blogs about bicycles; always liked them. But never before has there been a reason to blog about the bike path.  This is just super duper, although it has been years since TPP road a bike at night, this bike path would change my mind. Isn't this just great! Hopefully you didn't need TPP to point out that this glow-in-the-dark bike path has a design based on Van Gogh's famous painting. It's as iconic as art gets. To heck with bikes, TPP wants this for a pathway […]
5:43 PM | Epigenetics explains how Darwin’s Finches adapt to their environment Interesting article from science paper (see link above) explaining epigenetics as a means of species variation and adaptability. Yes, yet again, we find that all speciation variation is explicable by epigenetic means (operating above the genes, changing their expressionvia environmental cues) and NOT BY DARWINIAN means. I came across this article via the uncommon […]
3:36 PM | GMO, eugenics, Rockafeller scam
Filed under: A Social perspective on Darwinism Tagged: eugenics, Neo-Darwinism, overpopulation, Rockafeller GMO, seed manupulation, Social engineering
2:00 PM | Gender-swap the Foundation!
Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels were among the first grown-up science fiction I read. I still remember picking up the tattered dime-store paperback copy of Foundation in the high school library, opening it up, and getting sucked into the story of … Continue reading →
2:00 PM | #EntSoc14, a quick review
I have had a wonderful time at my first big bug conference – the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America, at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Amid secretive (or not so secretive) break-out sessions to Voodoo Doughnuts, … Continue reading →
1:00 PM | Now that’s a mouthful
A new study released in the journal Microbiome (it’s open-access!) has concluded that “intimate kissing” that lasts at least 10 seconds can transfer 80,000,000 bacteria between the participants’ mouths. So many microbes sloshing around – it’s a little bit gross, a little bit cool, and 100% science. NPR wrote a short piece about it here.
11:04 AM | #ScienceAfrica Unconference 2014 – reaching the whole spectrum of society
It was with great pleasure that I ‘virtually’ attended the second Planet Earth Institute #ScienceAfrica Unconference on the 18th November. From following on Twitter it seemed like an excellent day with good discussions and presentations. Since last year’s Unconference I have moved to Mozambique. In 9 months I have seen extreme rural areas and big […]
12:09 AM | Outliers (2014)
Some of my fondest childhood memories are of muggy Saturday nights on Hungerford Common. Year after year, most summer weekends, my auntie and uncle would drive me, my grandma and my two cousins to a pub just outside Hungerford. The grown-ups would sip shandies on the trestle table, while Jeff, Rich and I would charge […]

November 19, 2014

10:10 PM | Snow snow snow
Western upstate New York is getting some snow, like 77 inches of snow with another foot or two on the way. This is the stuff of lake effect snow storms. These storms pick up moisture as they move across the Great Lakes and then when they reach colder land, it all gets dumped as snow, snow that can fall at the rate of 3 to 5 inches an hour. TPP grew up there and attended college there and personally witnessed a 104" snow fall in 48 hours. Yikes!  What else is there to say. The pictures […]
7:47 PM | New faces: Karen James
Recently we’ve been pleased to welcome a big group of new contributors to the blog. By way of introduction, I asked each of them to answer a few quick questions about him- or herself. —Jeremy Who are you? Where are … Continue reading →
5:45 PM | Wordless Wednesday: #EBONYPower100 for Social Media (& Science Outreach) Influence
EBONY Magazine announces the 2014 honorees of their 2014 Power 100 List – names of the most influential African Americans in every facet of life from politics, entertainment, health, science,... -- Read more on
3:00 PM | Charismatic Minifauna
A recent publication (B. Misof, et al. 2014. Phylogenomics resolves the timing and pattern of insect evolution. Science 346 (6210): 763-767.) takes on the herculean task of finding when insects first evolved. This is a particularly vexing question because 1) insects are squishy and don’t fossilize well, and 2) the vast majority of the species on […]
2:15 PM | Growing the evolutionary relationship between green algae and salamanders
The presence of  green algae within the developing egg masses of amphibians has been recognized since the early 1900s, but only recently have researchers discovered that the these algae (termed “Oophila”) persist in animal tissues far after leaving the egg. The … Continue reading →
1:00 PM | A Meal More Powerful Than The NFL
Biology concepts – genetic code, neurotransmittersA turkey dinner with all the fixins can lead to a satisfying nap. But the meal usually takes a little longer than this to have an effect. This fellow might be more affected by last night’s activities than today’s meal.Turkeydinner at Thanksgiving brings the family together, celebrates the bountiful harvest, and puts you to sleep just as the NFL games are ready to start. Many people think that if you eat less turkey and fill up […]

Musil, R., Zill, P., Seemüller, F., Bondy, B., Meyer, S., Spellmann, I., Bender, W., Adli, M., Heuser, I., Fisher, R. & Gaebel, W. (2012). Genetics of emergent suicidality during antidepressive treatment—Data from a naturalistic study on a large sample of inpatients with a major depressive episode, European Neuropsychopharmacology, DOI: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2012.08.009

Russo, E., Scicchitano, F., Citraro, R., Aiello, R., Camastra, C., Mainardi, P., Chimirri, S., Perucca, E., Donato, G. & De Sarro, G. & (2012). Protective activity of α-lactoalbumin (ALAC), a whey protein rich in tryptophan, in rodent models of epileptogenesis, Neuroscience, 226 282-288. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.09.021

12:56 PM | 3-year PostDoc Position on Connecting Forest Models, Data and Diversity Effects in Freiburg
We still seek applicants for a 3-yr PostDoc project that combines process-based forest models, Bayesian parameter estimation and ecologically the question of what processes cause diversity effects in temperate forests. A pdf with details of the call can be downloaded here. The position is available immediately. A first consideration of incoming applications will take place…
9:40 AM | Cyberbullying, internet trolls and their psychopathic profile
The violence among teenagers is extremely widespread in almost every culture, including those from high-developed countries. And, along with the digitization of human communication with the help of the internet and social networks, the adolescent aggressiveness has acquired a new dimension. The bullying and the violence have been transferred into the virtual space and today […] The post Cyberbullying, internet trolls and their psychopathic profile appeared first on Social Ethology.
8:00 AM | Genetics and education policy
Philip Ball has an article in the December issue of Prospect (ungated on his blog) arguing that consideration of the genetic basis to social problems is a distraction from socioeconomic causes. The strawman punchline for the Prospect article is “It’s delusional to believe that everything can be explained by genetics”. The article has drawn a […]
7:57 AM | To Baltimore!
On Thursday I’ll be heading up to Baltimore to give a talk at Johns Hopkins University. I’ll be discussing an old favorite: The Monty Hall Problem! Actually, it’s been about two years since I’ve given a talk on that particular subject, so it will be nice to have an excuse to revisit it. From there…
4:34 AM | ASHG Meeting Report: A guide to the Exome Aggregation Consortium data
With genomic data from hundreds of thousands of people accumulating, geneticists are now able to mine these data for very rare, but very informative genetic variants, including loss-of-function alleles. For example, across the enormous “reference set” of human exomes announced at the 2015 American Society for Human Genetics Meeting, on … Read MoreThe post ASHG Meeting Report: A guide to the Exome Aggregation Consortium data […]
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