Posts

March 20, 2015

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4:00 PM | Haploid-diploidy, a (brief?) history
Haploid-diploid life cycles are not only good exercise for the brain, but they’re also fantastic study systems to investigate a myriad of questions. Yet, the majority of molecular studies have focused on the diploid-dominated life cycles of animal and plant … Continue reading →
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1:57 PM | Eco-evolutionary Island Biogeography
(This post is by Tim Farkas. I am just putting it up. Andrew)If pressed to list the most influential paradigms of the last century, few ecologists would forget MacArthur and Wilson’s
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1:00 PM | British fineSTRUCTURE
Leslie et al. (2015) provide an analysis of genome-wide SNP data from over 2,000 individuals in the United Kingdom in a paper out this week in Nature. The population structure in the UK was limited with FST estimates averaged 0.0007, with a … Continue reading →
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12:51 PM | New books party: books that arrived recently | @GrrlScientist
This week, I share my thoughts about a travel-adventure story about a quest to see one of the world’s last surviving “unicorns” (the saola); a paperback about the natural history of Ebola and a second by the same author about the origins of HIV/AIDS, and a book that examines the strange behaviour of numbersThe Last Unicorn: A Search for One of Earth’s Rarest Creatures by William deBuys [368 pages, Little, Brown US; 2015; Guardian Bookshop; Amazon UK […]
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10:13 AM | Comunicação de Ciência | Congresso SciCom Pt 2015
(Nova data-limite para submissão de resumos: 27 de Março de 2015) O Congresso de Comunicação de Ciência SciCom Pt 2015, em Lagos, ambiciona ser um ponto de encontro de pessoas, mas também de projectos e percursos profissionais que envolvam a Comunicação de Ciência, à semelhança das edições anteriores, 2013 no Pavilhão do Conhecimento, em Lisboa […]
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8:00 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Psychological research sucks. Are humans getting cleverer? Why the $10,000 Apple Watch is a good thing, especially for people who can’t afford it. [O]ur findings suggest that correlations observed in affluent, developed countries between (i) wealth and health or (ii) parental income and children’s outcomes do not reflect a causal effect of […]
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7:55 AM | How chemistry affects the evolution of life
SUMMARY: In this fascinating video, Professor Ros Rickaby from Oxford chats with Professor Simon Conway-Morris at Cambridge about how Earth’s changing chemistry has affected evolution, and how this can sometimes lead to evolutionary convergence A feature of natural selection, or “survival of the fittest”, is that context defines what is “fittest”. Traits that are “fittest” in one habitat can become liabilities in others. This was observed first-hand […]
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5:20 AM | Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: A bored and formerly encrusting trepostome bryozoan from the Upper Ordovician of Indiana
The lump above looks like your average trepostome bryozoan from the Upper Ordovician. I collected it from the Whitewater Formation of the Cincinnatian Group at one of my favorite collecting sites near Richmond, Indiana. In this view you can just barely make out the tiny, regular holes that are the zooecia (calcitic tubes that held […]
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3:19 AM | Animals Needn’t Be Posed…
…to get entertaining photographs of them. Sometimes, they’ll pose on their own, and if you spend enough time watching animals in their natural habitats, you get to capture gems like these!

March 19, 2015

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7:33 PM | GENETIC MUTATIONS ONLY GET DEAD THINGS & POPULATION GENETICS IS NUMEROLOGY – Neo-Darwinian quotes about & by Lynn Margulis
(1938 – 2011) An American biologist and notorious for giving out about the Neo-Darwinian version of our current dogmatic and blinkered view of evolution. She is famous in her own right for coming up with the origin of complex cells hypothesis which she says resulted in further complexity and diversity due to merging of simple cellular […]
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6:53 PM | Costly colouration in a forest moth: the tale of a ten-year research project
As part of the Canadian Entomology Research roundup (the first two posts can be found here and here), we will be sharing more detailed posts from the grad students involved in the published research. Below is a post from Jessica Ethier, sharing her research experience that spanned an undergraduate and PhD degree. I just published a […]
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6:04 PM | Common origins of RNA, protein, and lipid precursors
The origin of life on Earth is a fascinating topic. But […]
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4:50 PM | Carnivorous Croc Cousin Stalked the Triassic Carolinas
Movies have teasers. Books have sample chapters. And for fossils, there are photos of “unnamed taxa” in presentations …
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4:25 PM | Friday Fabulous Flower - Filberts
The filberts (aka hazel-nut, Corylus americana) are in flower in the upper midwest in March this year. Most people being quite plant blind don't even notice the catkins (3 shown here), the dangling inflorescences of pollen flowers some 3-4" long. So no one at all, including botany students, ever notice the brilliantly, dark red pistillate flowers. OK, they are pretty small, but they usually come in clusters of 2-3 flowers enclosed by bud scales (2 such clusters are in this image). Actually all […]
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4:18 PM | How chemistry affects the evolution of life | @GrrlScientist
In this fascinating video, Professor Ros Rickaby from Oxford chats with Professor Simon Conway-Morris at Cambridge about how Earth’s changing chemistry has affected evolution, and how this can sometimes lead to evolutionary convergenceA feature of natural selection, or “survival of the fittest”, is that context defines what is “fittest”. Traits that are “fittest” in one habitat can become liabilities in others. This was observed first-hand across […]
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2:30 PM | dN(eutralist) = dS(electionist) Part 3
In a previous post, I discussed the phenomenon of background selection, which results in rapid expungement of neutral alleles linked to loci under purifying or negative selection, and conversely, the rapid fixation of neutral variants that are linked to loci of … Continue reading →
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1:36 PM | One of the Challenges—and Privileges—of Working at a Major Research University
Today is going to be difficult, but it should be interesting. There are not one, not two, but three seminars that I really want to—and will (or meant to*)—attend. They are scattered all across campus, with none in my building. I’ll … Continue reading →
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12:15 PM | The Huia and the Sexually Dimorphic Bill
It’s time for one of those classic ‘from the archives’ type articles. This one was originally published in July 2008 at Tet Zoo ver 2. Apart from tiny editorial tweaks, it hasn’t been updated.... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

March 18, 2015

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2:54 PM | Reviewing the reviews: Twelve years of Landscape Genetics
Landscape genetics has grown feverishly since its first formal definition in 2003 (Manel et al). The beauty of combining genetic, environmental, and spatial variation to answer biological questions sure is alluring, and the quest for improving the methodology of landscape … Continue reading →
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12:00 PM | The Search For The Unicorn - Slightly Off Center
Biology concepts – teeth, narwhals, unicorns, bilateral symmetry, evolution, mechanosensing, asymmetryThe movie Legend starred Tom Cruise and Mia Sara, as well as a bunch of little people – you know, actors that were small, not small actors. The unicorn pair represented light and goodness, and kept the devil at bay. Until Mia got cocky and touched one. Then Cruise had to save the day.It’s no secret that some pretty odd and awful stories have come out of North Korea in the past […]

Christen AG & Christen JA (2011). The unicorn and the narwhal: a tale of the tooth., Journal of the history of dentistry, 59 (3) 135-42. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22372187

Kingsley, M. & Ramsay, M. (1988). The Spiral in the Tusk of the Narwhal, ARCTIC, 41 (3) DOI: 10.14430/arctic1723

Nweeia, M., Eichmiller, F., Hauschka, P., Donahue, G., Orr, J., Ferguson, S., Watt, C., Mead, J., Potter, C., Dietz, R. & Giuseppetti, A. (2014). Sensory ability in the narwhal tooth organ system, The Anatomical Record, 297 (4) 599-617. DOI: 10.1002/ar.22886

Dietz, R., Shapiro, A., Bakhtiari, M., Orr, J., Tyack, P., Richard, P., Eskesen, I. & Marshall, G. (2007). Upside-down swimming behaviour of free-ranging narwhals, BMC Ecology, 7 (1) 14. DOI: 10.1186/1472-6785-7-14

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5:09 AM | #TaxonomyFail of the Year
On the scale of 1 to What On Earth Has Gone Wrong, this ranks somewhere out near Pluto. Check out this news article published by Science Magazine. Yes, *that* Science Magazine. To illustrate an article about beetles, Science Magazine used a stock image of a shield bug (Hemiptera: Scutelleridae). The publication that can literally make or break [...]

March 17, 2015

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7:31 PM | Problem Of the Week Returns!
School has started up again, and so has Problem Of the Week! Problem six has now been posted. As I’ve mentioned, in the second half of the semester the problems get a bit harder. But have a go at it anyway, and feel free to leave solutions in the comments.
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6:58 PM | Schocking political news here in Lincolnland
Our state’s young congressman really likes to place fast and loose with money. The public was paying for all sorts of questionable travel, and he accepted an office remodeling job, a questionable gift of questionable taste, and has been involved in all sorts of real estate deals with political supporters, some real sweetheart deals all of us would like to be in on.  He has paid back the travel and paid for the remodeling, but only because he was caught and exposed by the press. […]
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6:35 PM | Flaunt the green!
Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my readers, Irish or not. Whether you know this or not, ChiTown has a big Irish population and a correspondingly big St. Patrick's Day celebration and parade, although for most of the party animals, it's just one more excuse to start drinking early and often. One of the funnier things is that they dye the ChiTown River green for the occasion, which raises an interesting botanical question (answered previously). So here's a picture of a drum majorette […]
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12:31 PM | Gender equality in science: it takes a village
SUMMARY: Late last year, a metastudy was published showing that, since 2000, things are improving for women working in most STEM-based fields, although there are some notable exceptions The scarcity of women in the ranks of working scientists has been in the news for a discouragingly long time. But research that tries to understand the reasons is filled contradictions, mainly because these studies were conducted at different times and on different science, technology, engineering and […]

Ceci S.J., S. Kahn & W. M. Williams (2014). Women in Academic Science: A Changing Landscape, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 15 (3) 75-141. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1529100614541236

Smith K., Fiona M. Watt & Susan L. Solomon (2015). Seven Actionable Strategies for Advancing Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Cell Stem Cell, 16 (3) 221-224. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.stem.2015.02.012

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11:44 AM | Birdbooker Report 364
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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10:17 AM | Socially structured gut microbiomes in wild baboons
“You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” Well, that old adage may still be true, but baboons certainly pick (up) their friends’ gut microbes. A new study by Jenny … Continue reading →
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9:04 AM | Gender equality in science: it takes a village | @GrrlScientist
Late last year, a metastudy was published showing that, since 2000, things are improving for women working in most STEM-based fields, although there are some notable exceptionsThe scarcity of women in the ranks of working scientists has been in the news for a discouragingly long time. But research studies designed to explain the reasons for this gender disparity are filled contradictions, mainly because they were conducted at different times and on different science, technology, engineering and […]
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4:50 AM | Sciencespeak: Whale Pump
Whales can poop almost anywhere they want. They have the entire ocean to relieve themselves in, so most …
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1:02 AM | How to Succeed in Graduate School - Part 2
Almost immediately after posting “How to Succeed in Graduate School” 10 days ago, I started receiving comments reminding me of other tips that I should have included. Now 1300+ views later, the original post clearly has to be Part 1 and I here provide Part 2. (Don't worry, I won't test your patience further with a Part 3.) As in Part 1, this post applies most directly to students who wish to make a career of research in academia or, to some extent, in government/industry/NGO. In […]
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