October 09, 2014

6:59 PM | What Was on the Early Mammal Menu?
Dinosaurs are great. Don’t get me wrong. But just as their bulk literally cast shade on many of …
6:47 PM | How many markers does it take to make a dataset “genomic”?
A new paper in Ecology Letters by Matthew Fitzpatrick and Stephen Keller proposes to use some a class of statistical methods developed for understanding the distribution of species in different environments to understand the distribution of genetic variants in different … Continue reading →
12:46 PM | De ardillas, lirones, ratas y ratones... y castores, hámsters, gerbillos, puercoespines, etc
Un nuevo artículo de PMMV ha salido ha la luz y no quería dejar pasar la ocasión para comentar brevemente algo de su historia: Gómez Cano, A.R., Cantalapiedra, J.L., Álvarez-Sierra, M.A. & Hernández Fernández, M. 2014. A macroecological glance at the structure of late Miocene rodent assemblages from Southwest Europe. Scientific Reports, 4: 6557 (doi:10.1038/srep06557).  Como ya habréis visto en la nota de prensa oficial, se trata […]
12:00 PM | Did someone say coffee?
Boy howdy, do I need love coffee. Drinking coffee feels like it’s in my blood. Perhaps literally. A recent study has identified some pretty interesting genes linked to coffee consumption. They also found two regions of DNA near genes called BDNF and SLC6A4 that might play a role in how caffeine affects the brain by […]
4:59 AM | Go read the Survey of Academic Field Experiences study!
As happens to any academic study that receives a lot of press coverage and blogger attention, the actual content of the Survey of Academic Field Experiences (SAFE) study by Clancy et al. (2014) has gotten a bit obscured in the ensuing … Continue reading →
4:54 AM | Fighting the war on science
There has been a long-standing dogma within the scientific community that scientists can not, and should not, be activists. “To be effective,” my undergraduate mentor told me, “scientists need to be impartial, they need to do science and let others worry about the advocacy.” I was as dissatisfied then and I am today, almost 10 years later (!!!!), with the choice that he put to me. “If you want to go into advocacy, that’s great, but you have to choose that […]

October 08, 2014

5:38 PM | Secrets of The Human Brain Unlocked in the Evolution of the Cerebellum
Compared to the growth rate that would have been expected given the relative growth of the neocortex over an evolutionary timescale, the cerebellum grew larger at a much faster rate in apes and humans versus that of other primates.
4:37 PM | Differential Diets Among Sauropods Allowed Cohabitation
Sauropods have always been somewhat of an anomaly in the animal kingdom: tiny heads that somehow ingested huge amounts of food to fuel their enormous bodies. Fossils from Late Jurassic Morrison Formation in the Western U.S. are helping unravel this mystery.
2:00 PM | Down Syndrome Awareness Month
This month is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and while this is the most common chromosomal abnormality, there is still a lack of social understanding. So this week’s link(s) are all going to be about the efforts to raise awareness of Down Syndrome. As NiB has talked about raising money for scientific research (watch Jeremy get […]
12:00 PM | A Tale Of Two Tails
Biology concepts – flagella, bacteria, prokaryotes, eukaryotes, undulipodia, axoneme, basal body, centrioleEveryone has the dream where you show up for a class that you didn’t know was on your schedule, only to be having a test. But in second place is the dream where you are back in elementary school, or maybe the principal’s office. Above is a picture of every teacher I had in elementary school.You find yourself transported back to sixth grade grammar class. You barely fit in […]

Prensier, G., Vivier, E., Goldstein, S. & Schrevel, J. (1980). Motile flagellum with a "3 + 0" ultrastructure, Science, 207 (4438) 1493-1494. DOI: 10.1126/science.7189065

Idei, M., Osada, K., Sato, S., Nakayama, T., Nagumo, T. & Mann, D. (2012). Sperm ultrastructure in the diatoms Melosira and Thalassiosira and the significance of the 9 + 0 configuration, Protoplasma, 250 (4) 833-850. DOI: 10.1007/s00709-012-0465-8

Feistel K & Blum M (2006). Three types of cilia including a novel 9+4 axoneme on the notochordal plate of the rabbit embryo., Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists, 235 (12) 3348-58. PMID:

8:45 AM | Some Gratuitous Videos of Animals Doing Stuff.
Title says it all? Sometimes a spade needs to be called a spade. From time to time the Structure & Motion Lab at the RVC gets cool videos of animals doing different behaviours, be that slow-mo/high-speed videos, x-ray videos. motion capture or whatever. Actually, we get cool videos pretty much every day but some of […]
6:19 AM | That Thing Between Ben Affleck and Bill Maher
I have written before about my admiration for Bill Maher. I think he is generally one of the funniest and most insightful commentators on American culture and politics, and I rarely miss his show on Friday night. Sometimes he goes south, as with his views on vaccination, and sometimes he goes for cheap jokes based…

October 07, 2014

10:36 PM | Evolution in the Slow Lane
One late spring weekend a few years back, my wife and I drove out to Delaware to see …
8:44 PM | PlantingScience - creating tomorrow's scientists today
As you may or may not have noticed, no ads, no commercial pop-ups sully the pages of this blog. Yes, you get the wisdom, knowledge, and wit of TPP for free, and it's darned well worth every penny, too. Endorsements are far and few between. Here though is an educational program in botany called Planting Science, which is worthy of attention.  PlantingScience teaches science via inquiry, which is how it should be done. And has it been successful, wow! Unfortunately you can be hampered […]
6:55 PM | New Study Shows that Chimpanzees Evolved to be Violent
A new study from Arizona State University shows that chimpanzees evolved to be violent. It was not a result of interactions with humans.
8:13 AM | More Progress For Gay Marriage
The Supreme Court has refused to hear appeals from five states on the subject of gay marriage. As a result, lower court rulings that struck down gay marriage bans have been allowed to stand, making gay marriage fully legal in those states. Among them is my current home in Virginia. The other four states were…

October 06, 2014

8:13 PM | POTW 5
After taking last week off, Problem of the Week makes a triumphant return. Problem Five is now ready for your consideration. The main problem for this week, in keeping with the arithmetic theme for this semester, is an especially famous “alphametic” problem. If you like that sort of thing, then you might enjoy perusing this…
7:29 PM | Iowa’s Enigmatic “Horse Collars”
I love museum collections. They are truly wondrous places that document the curiosities of nature as well as …
5:49 PM | Fun and Games with new maps of the USA
This article is just a lot of fun. What would the USA look like if all 50 states had the same population?  Or perhaps some other number of states?  Or whatever! TPP is annoyed because it's Lincolnland not Land of Lincoln. You'd think they'd know.  Or in another option, posting to you from Sangamon. And it's fun to know that if they were states, North and South Manhattan, divided at 186th and 187th streets, each would have more people than North and […]
5:42 PM | Scientists Discover Mushroom-like Animals, Possibly a New Phylum
Nearly 30 years ago, a research vessel off the southeast coast of Australia drag...
4:21 PM | What does it take to be an expert?
Someone somewhere came up with the idea that it took 10,000 hours of “practice” to become an expert.  However this is in part a quite silly idea.  TPP could devote 10,000 hours practicing the violin, and at the end of that time, he would not be a violinist of any sort although maybe turkey in the straw would not be out of reach. A certain amount of talent and aptitude are also required at the starting point, meaning that if you have already shown that you are pretty […]
4:06 PM | Birdbooker Report 341
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 […]
3:50 PM | That show you like is going to come back in style
Oh, man. This is exciting, but I also feel a sense of creeping dread, as though I’m trapped in some sort of interdimensional cineplex of televisual entertainments and, after strange ages of wondering among endless theaters showing long-form serialized dramas … Continue reading →
9:01 AM | Climatic niche shifts between species native and naturalized ranges raise concern for ecological forecasts during invasions and climate change
Early & Sax (in press). Global Ecology and Biogeography DOI: 10.1111/geb.12208. Climatic niche shifts between species native and naturalized ranges raise concern for ecological forecasts during invasions and climate change I like this paper a lot. It plays to all my new found interests in, what I like to call, intelligent macroecology. It takes a small subset […]
6:57 AM | All Nobel Prizes in 2014 Will be Microbially Themed: The Microbes Guarantee It
So - last year I secretly created a microbiome based spying system that can transmit the thoughts and emails of people who they colonize.  I introduced this community into all the people on the various Nobel Prize committees in order to get information in advance about their plans for the Nobel Prizes. After getting such information, and discovering that the Nobel's this year were NOT focused on microbes, I then created a microbiome-behavioral manipulation system and re-infected the Nobel […]
1:49 AM | The End of Orthodoxy?
Rejecting Aristotle is always a sign of a break with scientific orthodoxy. The past month has been bad for orthodox linguists. First came the Surprise Meeting at the Summit which showed that instead of searching for new empirical data or...

October 05, 2014

7:26 PM | Curried squash apple soup
Give yourself a treat and try this soup. Ingredients: 1.5-2 pound butternut squash, peeled & cut into 2 cm cubes, 2 somewhat tart medium-sized apples, peeled & cut into pieces, 1 TBSP cooking oil, 2 cloves garlic minced, 1 medium onion diced, 2.5 to 3 TBSP good quality curry powder that look yellowish (heavy on the turmeric), 6 cups vegetable broth, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground pepper, 1/2 cup orange juice. Saute the onion & garlic in the oil in a heavy bottomed pot […]
7:11 PM | Apple quest
After a week of unseasonably warm weather, a dousing of nearly three inches of rain, the weather has turned a bit unseasonably cold. Yes, you can average our weather, but the great mid-west of North America never gets average weather. So Saturday was going to be a bit cool and maybe a bit wet, and this is a university town, so football, and homecoming, so best to get out of Dodge. All in all, a good day for an apple quest to southeastern Michigan. Locally the early varieties of apples did well, […]
6:16 PM | How to stop Ebola: ban air travel from West African countries
Countries in which Ebola virus has appeared in the past.I never thought I’d find myself agreeing with Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. But this week, Governor Jindal called for a ban on air travel to the U.S. from the countries where the epidemic is present. He’s right: a flight ban is the best way to keep Ebola from spreading. In the world of infectious diseases, we often hear the phrase that the next epidemic is “one flight away” from the U.S. That’s […]
4:49 PM | Sex Differences, GABA Signaling, and Autism Risk
Awhile back, I wrote about how the neurotransmitter, GABA, can behave as an excitatory signal in certain cell types rather than the inhibitory signal with which we’re more familiar. As […]
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