August 16, 2014

1:00 PM | Sharkageddon may be the worst Shark Week show *ever*
Thursday night, I sat down with more than 15 scientists to watch Shark Week. Most of them don’t watch the annual spectacle—they’ve become embittered after years of Discovery’s fear mongering, mockumentaries, and lies. But this particular episode was different—it was all about our home, Hawaii. We all wondered how the sharks that roam our islands’ […]The post Sharkageddon may be the worst Shark Week show *ever* appeared first on Science Sushi.
10:27 AM | True facts about anglerfish | @GrrlScientist
To the female anglerfish, the human male is a very loud, annoying and unnecessarily complicated pair of gonads.Caturday has arrived once again, so it is time to watch some animals doing stuff! Today's caturday animal is the anglerfish, an ancient taxonomic order of bony fishes that arose sometime between 100 and 130 million years ago. (In contrast, humans are mere evolutionary babies, having appeared sometime between just 2 and 6 million years ago.)Anglerfishes got their name from their method […]

Miya M., James W Orr, Rachel J Arnold, Takashi P Satoh, Andrew M Shedlock, Hsuan-Ching Ho, Mitsuomi Shimazaki, Mamoru Yabe & Mutsumi Nishida (2010). Evolutionary history of anglerfishes (Teleostei: Lophiiformes): a mitogenomic perspective, BMC Evolutionary Biology, 10 (1) 58. DOI:

Widder E.A. (2010). Bioluminescence in the Ocean: Origins of Biological, Chemical, and Ecological Diversity, Science, 328 (5979) 704-708. DOI:

2:50 AM | From the Russian wilderness to the big city!
Guest Blogger: Sarah Frederick (’15) Arriving in Moscow was a sharp return to reality. Suddenly all of the things that had come to feel normal while we were in Kamchatka – the winding gravel roads and little towns with random meandering livestock that would peek in your windows – were replaced by traffic jams and […]

August 15, 2014

9:21 PM | How to conquer the world
Our species Homo sapiens has been around for some 200 000 years, and is generally thought to have evolved from older human species present in eastern and sub-Saharan Africa (University of Utah, 2005). But how did we come to be global (and even lunar) mammals? Debate still rages over how long ago H. sapiens left […]
7:59 PM | AAAS and SnapChat collaborate to develop SnapScience to publish scientific papers transiently
Just got this in an email and thought it should be shared.Washington, DC. August 15, 2014.Kent Anderson, the newly appointed Publisher of AAAS (see has announced his first action as Publisher - a partnership between AAAS and Snapchat ( said "Although I will not officially assume the role of Science publisher until 3 November, this was too important a task to not carry out immediately. AAAS has always […]
3:19 PM | Problematic Humour In Academic Talks
I recently attended a large academic conference, and I had an excellent time—I met fantastic colleagues, learnt a lot of state-of-the-art science, and heard some wonderful senior scientists talk about their decades of work. But there were a few moments … Continue reading →
2:07 PM | New Books Party: books received this week | @GrrlScientist
What good is a weekend without a good book to read? Take a look at these books -- hot off the presses -- that you may enjoy!When I get new books, I like to share them with people. Unfortunately, since you all are so far away, I cannot host a book party in my crib where you can look over them, so Ill do the next best thing. Ill host a book party on my blog each Friday of the week when I either purchase books, they are given to me or when review copies arrive in the mail. In this New Books Party, […]
2:01 PM | Botanical Geek Tour in Florence - Giardino dei Simplici
Chronological order is just so demanding, so let's back up a few days. Veronica (a very botanical name) works here at the villa and as a natural history student she recommended, once she discovered our botanical interests, that TPP visit the Giardino dei Simplici in the center of Florence. Florence is a lovely old city on the Arno River filled to the brim with Renaissance art and architecture that is presently under an assault by hordes of tourists.  And therein […]
2:01 PM | Today's YAMMM (Yet Another Mostly Male Meeting) Brought to You by CIFAR & NAS
Well, just got an invite to this meeting: Symbioses becoming permanent: The origins and evolutionary trajectories of organelles.  The topic seems of direct interest to what I work on.  And, it is relatively close (Irvine is a short hop away).  So this could be a way to go to a meeting without having to travel too far.  And maybe I could see my younger brother Matt who lives in LA and just graduated from UC Irvine's Masters program in Sound Engineering. Then I looked at […]
1:00 PM | Stuff online, leftovers and lactation edition
This week, at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! The natural history of Ebola. Guess I need a “sunrise lamp.” How to make yourself a morning person. Search me. When everyone can have a blog, why does anyone need a comments … Continue reading →
1:00 PM | What we’re reading: Selection for heterozygosity in threatened seals, testing Fst outlier tests, and …?
In the journals Forcada J and Hoffman JI. 2014. Climate change selects for heterozygosity in a declining fur seal population. Nature. 511:462–465. doi: 10.1038/nature13542. Variation in SAM [Southern Annular Mode of the Antarctic atmosphere] significantly affects most of the life … Continue reading →
12:57 PM | Giardino di Villa Camberaia - Botanical Geek Tour adventures in Tuscany
Some guide book somewhere mentioned that the garden of the Villa Camberaia perched high in the hills above Florence as a great destination for garden lovers.  Well, you know the botanical geek tour squad will try their best to get the straight dope for our faithful readers. Without any particular agenda today, the villa's location was easily found on Via del Rosselino outside of the little town of Settignano. What better than a little botanical adventure a bit off the beaten […]
9:27 AM | Is Oil Responsible for Norway’s Wealth?
Most Americans assume Norway’s prominence in wealth and world affairs to be directly related to her discovery and refinement of oil. But are they?
5:37 AM | Wooster’s Fossils of the Week: Abundant borings in Early Cretaceous cobbles from south-central England
Last week I described a cyclostome bryozoan on the outside of a quartz cobble from the Faringdon Sponge Gravels (Lower Cretaceous, Upper Aptian) of south-central England near the town of Faringdon. This week I’m featuring a variety of heavily-bored calcareous cobbles from the same unit. One is shown above in its matrix of coarse gravel. […]

August 14, 2014

8:09 PM | Tear Gas: the chemical warfare agent used on demonstrators in Ferguson
The clash between police and protestors in Ferguson, Missouri has escalated significantly over the past few days. Police dogs and handguns have been swapped out for tanks and assault rifles. The protestors are being shot at with rubber bullets and wooden baton rounds, but perhaps the most disturbing images surfacing are those of police suppressing […]The post Tear Gas: the chemical warfare agent used on demonstrators in Ferguson appeared first on Science Sushi.
7:00 PM | An important read: Emma Pierson on gender and authorship position in science
This is a fascinating read: In Science, It Matters That Women Come Last | FiveThirtyEight.  By Emma Pierson, who works at 23 and me.  It has all sorts of references of use and details on authorship position in scientific publications and how gender and author position are correlated.  Definitely worth a read. -------- This is from the "Tree of Life Blog" of Jonathan Eisen, an evolutionary biologist and Open Access advocate at the University of California, Davis. For short […]
3:49 PM | Creature Feature VII: Dragonflies and Other Flies
Here is my next piece for Creature Feature, on the predatory behaviour of dragonflies and the importance of chance in determining the outcome of their hunting attempts.  I adore photographing dragonflies, but am lazy about identifying them. Here are some of … Continue reading →
1:30 PM | Competition for ecological niches limits evolution of new species | @GrrlScientist
A recently published study finds that competition for ecological niches limits the evolution of new species. Further, this study finds that speciation rate slows or even stops as available ecological niches fill up. Why are there so many more species in some regions than in others? According to a recent study, competition for ecological niches limits the evolution of new species. Further, this study, which analysed the genetic and evolutionary relationships between all 461 species of Himalayan […]

Price T.D., Hooper D.M., Buchanan C.D., Johansson U.S., Tietze D.T., Alström P., Olsson U., Ghosh-Harihar M., Ishtiaq F. & Gupta S.K. & (2014). Niche filling slows the diversification of Himalayan songbirds, Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature13272

FJELDSÅ J. (2013). The global diversification of songbirds (Oscines) and the build-up of the Sino-Himalayan diversity hotspot, Chinese Birds, 4 (2) 132-143. DOI: 10.5122/cbirds.2013.0014

Richman A.D. & Price T. (1992). Evolution of ecological differences in the Old World leaf warblers, Nature, 355 817-821. DOI: 10.1038/355817a0

Kennedy J.D., Weir J.T., Hooper D.M., Tietze D.T., Martens J. & Price T.D. (2012). Ecological limits on diversification of the Himalayan core Corvoidea, Evolution, 66 (8) 2599-2613. DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2012.01618.x

Alström P., Hooper D.M., Liu Y., Olsson U., Mohan D., Gelang M., Hung L.M., Zhao J., Lei F. & Price T.D. & (2014). Discovery of a relict lineage and monotypic family of passerine birds, Biology Letters, 10 (3) DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.1067

Harmon L.J., Schulte J.A., Larson A. & Losos J.B. (2003). Tempo and Mode of Evolutionary Radiation in Iguanian Lizards, Science, 301 (5635) 961-964 . DOI: 10.1126/science.1084786

12:00 PM | Antibiotic Resistance For Everyone!
Everyone should know what antibiotic resistance is. According to the World Health Organization, “this serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country.” So, I hope this short “comic” helps […]
10:25 AM | GPS - It helps, mostly.
GPS devices are handy little gadgets, up to a point, but still it's nice to have a really good map. So even with our trusty GPS guide the Phactors have made their share of wrong turns, but yesterday while threading our way through a little Tuscan hill town, the GPS said, "turn right here", and we did driving right up a dead-end alley. And there at the end of the alley, where in a classic example of good advise given way too late, was a sign, in English, that said, "Don't follow GPS".  Now […]
3:48 AM | Right beneath our feet: amazing nature in our backyards (Reign of Fire II?).
Our normal environs tend not to excite our scientific interest on a daily basis. They can instead become so familiar as to become boring and mundane – or just effectively invisible. We are instead more likely to be captivated and amazed when we go somewhere new – the Arctic, the Galapagos, the Amazon, the Negev Desert. On these trips, we tend to get excited about all sorts of critters, no matter how small or common. When visiting new countries, I find myself eagerly taking pictures […]

August 13, 2014

10:41 PM | The power of hand-held x-ray fluorescence analysis comes to Wooster
WOOSTER, OHIO–Dr. Meagen Pollock, our mineralogist-petrologist and instrument scientist extraordinaire, should be writing this post, but she was off campus during this event. It is left to the paleontologist, of all people, to file this report. Despite my technological naïveté and more biological than chemical orientation, I quite enjoyed myself. I certainly learned a lot. […]
9:34 PM | Megalodon: The Monster Shark’s Dead
Megalodon is dead. This shouldn’t come as a shock. The fossil record is clear that after about 14 …
5:00 PM | Mendelian-Mutationism (I): The Forgotten Synthesis
tl;dr: I am published! What did early geneticists such as William Bateson, Hugo de Vries, Thomas Hunt Morgan and R.C. Punnett contribute to evolutionary thought? Nothing, according to many scientific sources. They aren’t included in various timelines of the history of evolutionary biology and most are not included in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Evolution. When they are mentioned […]
12:00 PM | Getting High On Life
Biology concepts – bacteria, climate, respiratory, birds, arthropods, astrobiology, cloudsCarl Sagan wasn’t just the host of the original Cosmoson TV. He solved the riddles of Venus’ high temperature, the seasons on Mars, and the color of Titan. He also wrote one of my favorite speculative fiction novels, Contact. The movie is good; the book is better.The astrophysicist Carl Sagan said, “There are naive questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put […]

Pawar SP, Dhotre DP, Shetty SA, Chowdhury SP, Chaudhari BL & Shouche YS (2012). Genome sequence of Janibacter hoylei MTCC8307, isolated from the stratospheric air., Journal of bacteriology, 194 (23) 6629-30. PMID:

Dillon ME & Dudley R (2014). Surpassing Mt. Everest: extreme flight performance of alpine bumble-bees., Biology letters, 10 (2) 20130922. PMID:

Hawkes LA, Balachandran S, Batbayar N, Butler PJ, Chua B, Douglas DC, Frappell PB, Hou Y, Milsom WK, Newman SH & Prosser DJ (2013). The paradox of extreme high-altitude migration in bar-headed geese Anser indicus., Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 280 (1750) 20122114. PMID:

8:44 AM | Does Anyone Truly Experience Moral Outrage?
Moral outrage is thought to be a special type of anger, one that ignites when people recognize that a person or institution has violated a moral principle and feel they must be stopped.
7:13 AM | PhD positions in the Dynamics of Language
The ARC centre of excellence for the Dynamics of language is offering a number of PhD positions, including on the topic of language evolution.  The positions are hosted at ANU in Canberra, the University of Melbourne and the University of Queensland.  These are on top of the Wellsprings of Diversity positions. From the website: The […]
5:46 AM | Nutonian’s Eureqa and Concerns of Overfitting
I’ve been using Nutonian’s Eureqa symbolic regression product extensively since early 2013. Back in late 2013, there was an article about Nutonian’s Eureqa that elicited comments. An “A.E. Bartholomew” weighed in with a comment that the title, “Nutonian raises $4M to extract ‘laws of physics’ from data”, was “hyperbolic and misleading”. That led me to […]

August 12, 2014

11:53 PM | The Pterosaurs That Weren’t
Earlier this year, in the journal Gondwana Research, paleontologists Gerald Grellet-Tinner and Vlad Codrea announced an unexpected pterosaur. …
10:08 PM | Shark Week’s ratings show there’s blood in the water
It’s the third day of Shark Week, and Discovery has already come under fire for their programming choices. Their big special on kick-off night—Shark of Darkness: The Wrath of Submarine—turned out to be another fake documentary, making up people and events to perpetuate the idea that a 30+ ft long great white patrols the coast […]The post Shark Week’s ratings show there’s blood in the water appeared first on Science Sushi.
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