September 19, 2014

1:00 PM | What we’re reading: Bayesian phylogenetics for whole genomes and coevolutionary interactions in epidemiology
In the journals Aberer A.J., K. Kobert, and A. Stamatakis. 2014. ExaBayes: Massively parallel Bayesian tree inference for the whole-genome era. Mol. Biol. Evol. 31(10): 2553-2556. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msu236. Modern sequencing technology now allows biologists to collect the entirety of molecular … Continue reading →
8:44 AM | Royal Society 2014 Winton Prize for Science Books shortlist announced | @GrrlScientist
The Royal Society just announced the six books that were shortlisted for the 2014 Winton Prize for Science books.Ive got some excellent news that youve all been waiting for: After a summer spent lounging in beach chairs under umbrellas while intensively scrutinising this years 12 longlisted popular science books, the Royal Society just announced the six books that comprise the shortlist for the 2014 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books. If you look carefully at the 2014 longlist, you […]
8:42 AM | Language Evolution at Nacht van Kunst en Kennis festival
This year’s Nacht van Kunst en Kennis Science Festival in Leiden features an experiment on language evolution.  Come and take part in our interactive iterated learning experiment at the Museum Boerhaave from 19:30 on Saturday 20th September. Mark Dingemanse, Tessa Verhoef, Shawn Tice, Marisa Cassillas and I will be there to answer questions.  Our results […]
5:27 AM | Wooster’s Fossils of the Week: A nest of cornulitid tubeworms and friends from the Upper Ordovician of northern Kentucky
This fascinating and complicated little cluster of cornulitid wormtubes was found by my current Independent Study student William Harrison while we were doing fieldwork near Petersburg, Kentucky. (Just down the road from the infamous Creation Museum, ironically.) It was collected from a roadcut in the Bellevue Member of the Grant Lake Formation (Upper Ordovician, locality […]

September 18, 2014

7:18 PM | Twenty-Eight Annual Report of the Geology Department at The College of Wooster
Every year our Administrative Coordinator Patrice Reeder puts together the Annual Report of Wooster’s Geology Department. Every year this document grows in detail, creativity and information. This year’s report is now available on this webpage. The Annual Report is our primary means of communicating with our alumni, current and future students, parents, administrators, and other […]
2:00 PM | The Molecular Ecologist: Fishing for genetic signals of adaptation
Over at The Molecular Ecologist, I discuss a new paper that exemplifies how we’re going to be studying the genetics of adaptation in the age of high-throughput DNA sequencing—even if it doesn’t quite live up to that promise. It’s a … Continue reading →
12:00 PM | Tigers and Birds
Many, many world-class ornithologists have called or do call the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science home. This year, LSU grad students Mike Harvey (a NiB! contributor!) and Glenn Seeholzer along with LSU alum Dan Lane and Peruvian ornithologist Fernando Angulo are going to Peru this October to find the most bird species they […]
8:55 AM | Scarcity of time, money, friends and bandwidth
Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir’s Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much is full of interesting insight and experimental results. It presents a novel way of looking at scarcity that extends beyond the typical analysis in economics, the original “science of scarcity”, and will certainly change the way I think about it. But by […]

September 17, 2014

11:23 PM | Evolution: A Third Way? Preface & 1st chapter under construction
This is a sample preface & 1st chapter of book (physical) Evolution: A Third Way? Based on the most cutting-edge biological science and older previously marginalized evolutionary theories and ideas, it presents an over-arching new synthesis of evolution.
11:12 PM | Loxton and Prothero’s Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids; the Tet Zoo review
I’m an unashamed fan of cryptozoology – this being (for the two of you that don’t know) the field of study that revolves around those creatures thought to exist by some, but which remain unrecognised... -- Read more on
9:00 PM | Fishing for genetic signals of adaptation
One of the biggest promises of modern DNA sequencing methods is the ability to track the adaptation of living populations at a fine genetic scale, in essentially real time. It’s already been done in a number of experimental evolution systems: … Continue reading →
8:17 PM | Keeping good records - A is for Aster
Late summer flowering in Mrs. Phactor's perennial garden runs largely to the color pink but in a wide variety of plants. Here and there a little white and pale blue sneaks in.  In the ongoing quest for more diversity, an aster was purchased at a native plant sale and then another aster purchased at a perennial sale elsewhere and both were planted to help fill in an area largely denuded by herbivores of one sort or another.  And now several months later both asters are […]
4:22 PM | Proposed: A new gender-parity benchmark, you guys!
So Science, that lovable institutional behemoth of scientific publishing, has just produced a list of “top 50 science stars of Twitter” that manages to contain, by my count—I’ve triple-checked—four women. Eight percent. Looking at the list, it hit me: Seriously, … Continue reading →
2:54 PM | Totally meaningful lists and stuff
Science magazine, ‘inspired’ by Neil Hall’s (borderline?) offensive ‘Kardashian-index’ paper (which has been torn apart by far better people than me, so I’ll just direct you here), has just published a list of ‘The Top 50 Science Stars of Twitter’. Their methods seem strangely flawed for what is considered one of the most prestigious scientific […]
2:03 PM | Nothing in Biology Makes Sense: The key to a secure global future is evolution
Over at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense, I discuss a big new review article on all the ways understanding evolutionary biology will be critical for human health and development in the next hundred years: The long list of authors, led … Continue reading →
2:00 PM | If the National Parks had a Twitter Account…. Oh Wait! They do!
This is the coolest thing on Twitter. By. Far. Check it out, or follow them on twitter for more awesome photos.
1:00 PM | To thrive in the twenty-first century, can we learn to steer evolution?
Thinking that we can entirely contain or stop the evolutionary change that we do notice is more Quixotic than Quixote, like trying to joust with forests and oceans. But I do think that with the kind of strategies Carroll et al. outline, we can stop worrying about the never-ending wave of evolutionary change, and learn instead how to surf it.
12:00 PM | Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Biology concepts – bacteria, motility, flagella, quorum sensing, bacterial swarming, biofilms, pathogenesisNomads are wanderers. They come in different flavors. Hunter-gatherers follow the animals as they graze in different places. Pastoral nomads have animal herds and move them around to where the grazing is best. But the interesting ones are the peripatetic nomads. These are people that move around within cities and other populated areas, often to sell services or trades. Romanis, or […]

Gloag ES, Turnbull L, Huang A, Vallotton P, Wang H, Nolan LM, Mililli L, Hunt C, Lu J, Osvath SR & Monahan LG (2013). Self-organization of bacterial biofilms is facilitated by extracellular DNA., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110 (28) 11541-6. PMID:

Deng P, de Vargas Roditi L, van Ditmarsch D & Xavier JB (2014). The ecological basis of morphogenesis: branching patterns in swarming colonies of bacteria., New journal of physics, 16 15006-15006. PMID:

McCall J, Hidalgo G, Asadishad B & Tufenkji N (2013). Cranberry impairs selected behaviors essential for virulence in Proteus mirabilis HI4320., Canadian journal of microbiology, 59 (6) 430-6. PMID:

Alteri CJ, Himpsl SD, Pickens SR, Lindner JR, Zora JS, Miller JE, Arno PD, Straight SW & Mobley HL (2013). Multicellular bacteria deploy the type VI secretion system to preemptively strike neighboring cells., PLoS pathogens, 9 (9) PMID:

3:40 AM | Being International Part 1: Culture Shock and My Academic Path
Like many of my other blog posts, I’ve been planning this series for ages but needed something to actually spur me into writing and posting them. Here, the impetus has come from Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This book is perfect; go … Continue reading →
12:29 AM | Bone From the Outside In
Our skeletons are made of bone. This is a fact so simple as to seem mundane. It’s easy …

September 15, 2014

10:23 PM | Dolphins Know Each Other by Name
Signature whistles can be heard in a variety of dolphin species. Suppose I had an eight-month old baby who liked to say something like gork, and I told you that one day I heard the baby's two-year-old brother make a...
9:53 PM | Always looking for bargains
There are certain things in life that you continue to seek, for example, an excellent wine under $10 a bottle and great bargain plants. This is the time of year when big box stores heavily discount their plants to empty out their garden centers. Mostly the plants are  not worth the effort, however, it doesn't cost anything but a little time to take a quick look. TPP was pleasantly surprised to see a number of small shrubby magnolias that were in particularly good shape for late summer. […]
8:48 PM | A Mosasaur’s Last Meal
Look into the jaws of a Mosasaurus and you will gaze into a nightmare. The seagoing lizard’s curved …
3:06 PM | How Wolbachia Learned to Help Bedbugs
Wolbachia , Wolbachia , Wolbachia ! Though these ubiquitous insect symbionts a...
1:45 PM | Birdbooker Report 338
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 […]
1:32 PM | The ideal experiment...
[ This blog post is by Sinéad Collins; I am just putting it up.  –B. ]In a previous blog post, Andrew outlined the “ideal approach” for investigating whether plasticity facilitates evolution, and to my delight, he proposed experimental evolution. Not only that, but he proposed the experiment my group got published this week in Proceedings B. I was pleased to be accused of doing anything ideal, much less an ideal experiment, even if Andrew doesn’t seem to […]
11:49 AM | Should we test all women for breast cancer-causing mutations?
In this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association, famed geneticist Mary-Claire King argues that all women over age 30 should be tested for cancer-causing mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. King, who made the original discovery of the link between BRCA1 and breast cancer, is one of the world’s leading experts on how mutations in these genes cause cancer.But her proposed new universal testing policy, which fellow Forbes contributor David Shaywitz calls […]
7:46 AM | Sunday Chess Problem
This week I want to build on something I discussed near the end of last week’s problem. I mentioned that a problem’s genre should in some way complement its theme. So, if your problem is a selfmate, it is better if the theme employs logic that is specific to the selfmate genre. If your idea…

September 14, 2014

11:43 PM | Everything You Wanted to Know about the Lake Arrowhead Microbial Genomes meeting #LAMG14
The Lake Arrowhead Microbial Genomes meeting, which happens every other year, is starting tonight.  I love this meeting.  No bias here since I am now a co-organizer.  But I really love this meeting.  I am posting here some background information about the meeting for those interested.  We will be live tweeting the meeting using the hashtag #LAMG14.  This years program is here.Posts of mine about previous meetingsMarch 02, 2014: Save the dates / preliminary […]
10:18 PM | New POTW Posted
The title pretty much says it all. I have a new teaser for you, along with some discussion of palindromes that you might enjoy. The solution to last week’s problem has been posted as well. Let me know what you think!
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