October 05, 2014

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 […]

October 04, 2014

6:57 PM | Racerunner lizards of the world unite
Today we’re here because of the lacertid lizards, the Old World clade that includes Eurasian wall lizards, green lizards, fringe-toed lizards and a great number of less familiar species groups that... -- Read more on
12:56 PM | What is a President’s Prize worth?
At the recent ESC/ESS JAM in Saskatoon, not only were we treated to some great science and camaraderie, but the beloved institution of the President’s Prize sessions for student talks and posters provided some of the most stimulating and exciting times. This was my first year not being in the competition, and I would like […]
8:44 AM | A week of links
Links this week: The workplace is needed to overcome our lack of self control. Resisting instant gratification – the FT explores Walter Mischel’s the Marshmallow Test. Most critiques of twin studies recycle the same discredited 40-year-old arguments. Here’s another paper pulling them apart. The college educated are still getting married, just later. The same can’t […]
6:08 AM | Jews Behaving Badly
My book Among the Creationists contains a chapter called “Why I Love Being Jewish.” Of course, as an atheist, I reject totally all of the underlying theology of Judaism. I have no use for the Torah, which I regard as a nasty and often vile piece of work. Most Jewish ceremonies leave me cold, though…

October 03, 2014

9:21 PM | Why taxonomy matters
Because you really don’t want to end up adopting the worst cat. Tagged: cat, taxonomy
4:20 PM | House science committee is digging for dirt in NSF’s confidential records of peer review
ScienceInsider reports that aides for the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology have been spending the summer digging through records of grant the grant review process that the National Science Foundation usually keeps confidential: The Republican aides were … Continue reading →
3:40 PM | Election politics in Lincolnland
As the election season heats up here in Lincolnland, citizens are getting the old GnOPe Rauner-round, promises bereft of any plans or details, as if the how such things will be done were unimportant. Now where is it written that somebody who has made a lot of money in business (He’s rich. Get over it.)  knows anything at all about how to run a government?  These local Trumpettes (There is also Overwhite, the milk magnate.) do have better hair, but apparently no realization that […]
3:30 PM | Me: Will survey results be published openly. Them: yes. Me: OK - will do survey. #opensurveys
Got this email:Dear Jonathan, Your peers at the University of California, Riverside, Stanford University, and the Coachella Valley Association of Governments are seeking participation in a survey designed to explore the relevancy and perceptions of basic natural history knowledge and skills among professionals and graduate students in environmental science-related fields.Professionals and Faculty (including post-doctoral researchers) may access the survey through the following […]
1:38 PM | New Books Party: books received this week | @GrrlScientist
Although I recently returned from visiting London, books still arrived in the mail during my absence for me to share with you. Heres some of the treasure-trove ...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 […]
1:00 PM | Stuff online, marathoning monarchs edition
Going down. A new study estimates that worldwide wildlife populations dropped more than 50% in the last 40 years. Long-haul leps. There’s a simple genetic basis to whether or not monarch butterflies have the endurance to migrate. Good news/bad news. … Continue reading →
1:00 PM | What we’re reading: Sorting out whole-genome duplication, adaptation without tradeoffs, and is science leaving its logistic growth phase?
In the journals McGrath CL, J-F Gout, P Johri, TG Doak, and M Lynch. Differential retention and divergent resolution of duplicate genes following whole-genome duplication. 2014. Genome Res. 24: 1665-1675. doi: 10.1101/gr.173740.114. Finally, multiple sources of evidence indicate that [Paramecium] … Continue reading →
7:26 AM | Why I Tweet and Blog: Captured by Beryl Lieff Benderly
You know, many people ask me - why do I talk to science reporters so often.  They ask this and then claim that science reporters are just all kinds of evil because they always get quotes and facts and concepts wrong.  Well, that has really not been my experience.  Sure, I have my examples of problems.  But overall, I have been impressed and pleased more often than not.  And here is a great example. I was interviewed a while back by Beryl Lieff Benderly about my somewhat […]
5:11 AM | Wooster’s Fossils of the Week: Eocrinoid holdfasts on a Middle Ordovician hardground from Utah
Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, several students and I did fieldwork in the Middle Ordovician Kanosh Formation in west-central Utah. One year we were joined by my friend Tim Palmer of the University of Aberystwyth. Together, Chris Finton (’91), Lewis Kaufman (’91), Tim and I put together a paper describing the carbonate […]

October 02, 2014

7:35 PM | Market Apartment Complex that obviously is not in the USA
Little by little markets, particularly farmers' markets, are working their way back into the thinking of people in the USA. But markets like you see all over Europe remain rare in the USA although some dandy ones still exist in some cities, e.g., the Reading Station Market in Philadelphia and the City Market in Kansas City. This is an amazing market apartment complex (in Rotterdam), and it makes so much logistical sense for urban living. How convenient! You won't need a great big […]
5:11 PM | We’re looking for a few good Molecular Ecologists
The Molecular Ecologist is seeking new regular contributors to join our community of commenters discussing population genetics in ecology and evolutionary biology. We are interested in contributors with expertise and experience in our core topic, the applications of genetic data … Continue reading →
2:41 PM | Carnival of Evolution #76!
It’s the beginning of October, and although here in Canada it means that winter is very, very close, it also means that it’s time for the Carnival of Evolution! In this 76th edition we have some posts, which somehow managed to have very little in common (-.-), except that they are all awesome! I’ve organized the posts in no specific order, but under three broad topics. I hope you enjoy it!Gene expression/ gene regulationMarine Sticklebacks have colonized many rivers all over […]
12:00 PM | Some are born great…
There has been a lot of interest throughout history in what makes great people great. Like the freakishly great people. The Yo-Yo Mas and the Michael Jordans, if you will. Some research pointed to genetics. Some research pointed to practice making perfect (ever heard of the “10,000 hours” rule?). An article in Slate, “Practice Does […]
9:43 AM | Tamed by an influx of women
Perusing through some of my bookmarks in Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, I was reminded of the following passage. It’s worth sharing. The West was eventually tamed not just by flinty-eyed marshals and hanging judges but by an influx of women. The Hollywood westerns’ “prim pretty schoolteacher[s] arriving […]
7:16 AM | Barash’s Talk
University of Washington biology professor David Barash published this op-ed in The New York Times recently. The title: “God, Darwin and My College Biology Class.” Intriguing! Let’s have a look. EVERY year around this time, with the college year starting, I give my students The Talk. It isn’t, as you might expect, about sex, but…
12:58 AM | In the footsteps of Charles Darwin: Geological excursion into the Central Andes
MENDOZA, ARGENTINA–Today I had one of the finest geological field trips in my life. The scenery was stunning, the geology extraordinary, and the history deeply moving. Being able to share the experience with so many of my geologist friends, old and new, was a bonus. I also thought how much my Wooster Geology colleagues would […]

October 01, 2014

11:02 PM | Fear of terrorists put to good use
Oh, boy, does TPP love Tom Tomorrow! One of the worst aspects of USA culture is its fear of what might happen, no matter how remote, or how unlikely they are to be harmed.  TT nails it.
3:35 PM | Government Granting Agencies and Wastin’ Time
NPR some time back had an article on scientists leaving science, mostly because government funding of research has become more like a sweepstakes than a well. I had posted a couple of comments in the following thread, and I’d rather those didn’t get lost, as Google seems not to take note of or index comments […]
2:00 PM | England is known for its gardens… that can kill you
The english countryside is know for gardens filled with magnificent roses and elegant floral arrangements. But when the Duchess of Northumberland moved into her husbands family castle she decided to do something a little different with her garden… she made it deadly. Read all about it over at Smithsonian!
1:59 PM | Crosspost from microBEnet: Some interesting new papers on functional analysius of metagenomics
Crossposting from microBEnet:Some new papers that may be of interest to people:FOAM (Functional Ontology Assignments for Metagenomes): a Hidden Markov Model (HMM) database with environmental focus. Statistical Methods for Functional Metagenomic Analysis Based on Next-Generation Sequencing Data PhD thesis from Pookhao, Naruekamol Profile Hidden Markov Models for the Detection of Viruses within Metagenomic Sequence DataParallel-META 2.0: Enhanced Metagenomic Data Analysis with […]
1:56 PM | Crosspost from microBEnet: Collection of papers on "The Science of Science Communication"
Crossposting this from microBEnet  Just got pointed to this by Sharon Strauss, the chair of the Evolution and Ecology department here at UC Davis: The Science of Science Communication II Sackler Colloquium.  This is a collection of papers from a colloquium held in Septment 2013.  Slides and videos of the talks are available online. The papers and links (copied from the PNAS site) are listed below.  There are many papers here of relevance to work done at […]
12:59 PM | One Thing Is Just Like The Other – Sort Of
Biology concepts – undulipodia, convergent evolution, parallel evolution, homologous structures, re-emergent evolution, atavism, flagella, eukaryote, prokaryoteThis represents the evolution of cell phones over the last couple of decades. The latest models aren’t there since things are changing so fast. Evolution in biology doesn’t always work this way, one thing leading directly to another, sometimes you have to go back to a rotary phone go forward to an iPhone, and sometimes […]

Lahti, D. C., N. A. Johnson, et al. (2009). Relaxed selection in the wild. , Trends in Ecology and Evolution, , 24 (9) 487-496. Other:

Stone G & French V (2003). Evolution: have wings come, gone and come again?, Current biology : CB, 13 (11) 8. PMID:

Wiens JJ (2011). Re-evolution of lost mandibular teeth in frogs after more than 200 million years, and re-evaluating Dollo's law., Evolution; international journal of organic evolution, 65 (5) 1283-96. PMID:

6:09 AM | A Poor Description of the Monty Hall Problem
My latest book project has been coediting the proceedings of the 2013 MOVES Conference held in New York City, which has turned out to be a lot harder than I anticipated. For the last few weeks it’s been all-consuming, and spending so many hours in front of the computer staring at other people’s writing has…
3:22 AM | Why are men such dicks? (2014)
‘This macho advantage of speed, strength and fierceness can be exaggerated by females’ tastes. As half of a female’s fate is tied up in her sons, she may have evolved to prefer males who are stronger, faster and who have a greater appetite for risk, since they will be more likely to father sons with […]

September 30, 2014

9:19 PM | Nothing quite like the feeling of completing your presentation: Day 2 of the International Palaeontological Congress
MENDOZA, ARGENTINA–I promise, the images will be much more interesting in the next post! Today we concentrated on talks. I finally was able to deliver mine in the same session as Leif Tapanila above. It was a crowded little room, but the presentations kept us well entertained and informed. I learned a lesson: without any […]
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