Posts

February 24, 2015

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12:27 PM | This is your brain on Human accelerated regulatory enhancer (HARE5)
Four decades have passed since King and Wilson published their seminal paper “Evolution at Two Levels in Humans and Chimpanzees“. In it, they proposed that the large behavioral and morphological differences between us and our closest relatives, chimpanzees, could not … Continue reading →
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8:11 AM | Shelf Life: the Olinguito’s Skull
SUMMARY: Instead of travelling to remote locations in faraway countries, scientists sometimes discover a new species by looking a little more closely at an old specimen in a museum drawer. Today’s video is from the American Museum of Natural History. It is the fourth episode in their year-long Shelf Life video series. Shelf Life is a bite-sized video exploration of some of the many natural treasures housed at the AMNH, how these specimens came to be there, the stories they... Read more
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7:38 AM | Octopus gets crabby in Yallingup | @GrrlScientist
This is the first time that this remarkable octopus behaviour has ever been captured on video.Octopus are amazing creatures in many ways, but this remarkable video, recently captured by Porsche Indrisie in Yallingup, Western Australia, serendipitously captures a tide pool octopus doing something I never knew they could do: hunting on land: Continue reading...
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4:14 AM | Why Specificity is Not an Argument Against Evolution
In dealing with creationists, they will often steer the […]
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2:35 AM | New POTW, and Funny Science Videos
The fifth Problem Of the Week has now been posted at the big website. I’ve also posted an “official” solution to Problem Four. POTW will be taking two weeks off after this one, so you will have to make this last. (Spring break is almost upon us, which seems incredible considering how cold it is…

February 23, 2015

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9:58 PM | How to run a university - who are the low cost employees?
A cheerful memo arrived just the other day.  It informed faculty that the Building Service Workers (aka custodians) would no longer empty broken glass containers in labs and classrooms. The memo then went on to inform us where the containers should be placed when full, and that new containers could be purchased at the stock room for some lordly sum (about the same as a good latte).  Now there are two things about this.  First, there is the assumption that yours truly will be […]
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5:06 PM | Birdbooker Report 361
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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4:43 PM | Why does anyone care what politicians think about evolution?
It's only been a dozen days since Darwin's birthday, and evolution is in the news, and not because of some new study, but because a possible presidential candidate punted when asked about it.  Clearly at one level what difference could it possibly make what a politician thinks about evolution? A successful alumnus of our university with a position on the foundation board once asked TPP if he "believed" in evolution.  TPP responded, "It's not a belief; it's a well documented and […]
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4:05 PM | Spots, Stripes and Spreading Hooves in the Horses of the Ice Age
During the upper Palaeolithic (that is, between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago), prehistoric people in Europe and Asia (and elsewhere) depicted the animals they saw in thousands of piece of cave art.... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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3:12 PM | Evolutionary Constraints from Regulatory Gene Networks
Evolutionary biology is full of great stories about why life on Earth is the way...
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2:55 PM | Coral conservation through assisted evolution
Coral reefs occupy a tiny portion of the world’s oceans (see map below) but their biodiversity is hugely disproportionate to their size. More than 450 million people from 109 countries live in close proximity to coral reefs and depend upon the … Continue reading →
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2:10 PM | Shelf Life: the Olinguito's Skull | @GrrlScientist
Instead of travelling to remote locations in faraway countries, scientists sometimes discover a new species by looking a little more closely at an old specimen in a museum drawer.I’m rescheduling videos that feature natural history museums and the like from the weekend to Mondays (“Museum Monday”) so a larger audience can learn more about the many varied roles that these institutions perform to benefit scientific research and public knowledge. Today’s video is from the […]
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8:00 AM | Wisdom from Tolstoy
I have just finished Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and along the way marked a couple of passages. The first two fit with the story that much behavioural science is formalisation of common sense. First, hindsight bias: In historical works on the year 1812 French writers are very fond of saying that Napoleon felt the danger of […]

February 22, 2015

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11:32 PM | Fry On the Problem Of Evil, Part One
My favorite philosophical conundrum has been back in the news lately, thanks to a recent interview with British actor Stephen Fry: Asked by the interviewer what he would say to God were he to discover, after his death, that He existed, Fry replied: I’d say, bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you?…
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10:57 PM | Planning ahead - corned beef version
Home-made, home-cured corned beef is a wonderful thing. It's another one of those things that TPP just does once a year in the third week of February. There are two reasons why. One, without a whole lot else to do, it keeps you busy for about an hour, that is if you have secured all the necessary ingredients.  If you should decide to try this, the recipe is at that link, and hopefully you'll be able to purchase some saltpeter. With everything on hand, and having acquired a great […]
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10:56 PM | Specific Genetic Enhancers May Have Contributed to Larger Brains in Humans
Though humans don’t have the largest and most complex brains of the mammals (those distinctions go to the sperm whale and the elephant, respectively), the complexity of our language and […]
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3:10 PM | The letter by 55 Italian MPs about ‘three-parents-babies’ shows how marginal Science is in Italian society
I have to say the news that 55 Italian MPs have written to the House of Lords (via The Times) urging for a rejection of the three-parent-babies law recently approved by the House of Commons got me by surprise. The procedure and reason to … Continue reading →
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12:18 AM | The Epic USATE Post!
All my hard work in Baltimore, and all the frustrations of the various drives, paled to insignificance upon arriving at the Parsippany Hilton. You see, it was time for another go at the U. S. Amateur Team East chess tournament. It’s one of the biggest chess parties of the year, with more than 1300 players…

February 21, 2015

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10:18 PM | Who Are the Corporate Shills?
I have a few pro-GMO posts on this blog and in every on […]
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9:27 PM | Thank You, Oliver Sacks
I was pained this week to see a column in the New York Times (here) announcing the pending death of Oliver Sacks. Sacks wrote the news himself, so of course the report was both sharp and humane. Ever since Awakenings...
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8:06 PM | Adventures in Baltimore
It’s snowing again. Pretty hard, actually. So, since it looks like I won’t be going anywhere today, how about I tell you about my recent travels? My adventures started last Thursday. I hopped into the Jasonmobile around noon, and headed out to Baltimore. This entails driving on I-495, better known as “The Beltway.” When you…
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2:30 AM | Show me the power
Describing the patterns of genetic structure and mating system variation in presents challenges from the outset of sample collection to data analysis (see this post and this post). At the beginning of February, I had the pleasure to collaborate with Sean … Continue reading →
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2:19 AM | Casey Luskin’s Top Ten Misunderstandings of Biology
Over at the so-called “Evolution News” site […]
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1:08 AM | Interspecific gene flow enhances vectorial capacity
There are charismatic cases of gene flow between species, such as Neanderthals (see also Arun’s posts here and here), but the role of introgression in evolution remains poorly documented. Recently diverged species have incomplete reproductive isolation and can hybridize. Rapid … Continue reading →

February 20, 2015

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2:50 PM | New books party: books that arrived recently | @GrrlScientist
This week, I share my thoughts about four books that span a number of non-fiction genres; science and nature, atheism, philosophy and politicsIt’s been a long time since I’ve shared anything here because my prized desktop computer with the 27-inch screen melted down more than a month ago. (This hard drive melt-down was preceded by my external back-up drive melt down, and followed by the melt-down of my smartphone.) The local shop, where I purchased this computer, took three weeks to […]
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8:00 AM | A week of links
Links this week (a slightly sparse list as I didn’t find much time to see what was out there): The number of never married in the US continues to grow. HT: Arnold Kling Moderate drinking is still good for you. Christopher Snowdon delves into the details. It’s no surprise that Uber and friends want to […]
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5:10 AM | Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: A molded brachiopod from the Lower Carboniferous of Ohio
We haven’t had a local fossil featured on this blog for awhile. Above is an external mold of the spiriferid brachiopod Syringothyris typa Winchell, 1863, from the Logan Formation (Lower Carboniferous, Osagean, about 345 million years old) of southeastern Wooster, Ohio. The outcrop is along the onramp from north Route 83 to east Route 30. […]

February 19, 2015

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11:25 PM | News Bite: Parental care in early reptiles!
A new fossil shows an ancient reptile, Philydrosaurus, surrounded by young. Possible evidence that parental investment is a more ancient trait in land-based vertebrates than paleontologists thought! Listen to Adam discuss the new discovery here. Reptiles aren’t known for being great parents. When it comes to time and energy spent with the kids, mammals get […] The post News Bite: Parental care in early reptiles! appeared first on Past Time.
Editor's Pick
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10:31 PM | Urbanisation is changing the way birds sing
In 1800 only 3% of the world’s population lived in urban areas, yet as the industrial revolution picked up pace in the early 18th and 19th centuries the number of people moving […]
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9:41 PM | The LTEE as meta-experiment: Questions from Jeremy Fox about the LTEE, part 3
This is the 3rd installment in my responses to Jeremy Fox’s questions about the LTEE (my lab’s long-term evolution experiment with E. coli), which he asked at the Dynamic Ecology blog. This response addresses his 2nd and 7th questions, which I’ve … Continue reading →
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