Posts

July 30, 2014

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4:18 PM | Pruney Fingers: A Gripping Story In this week’s special...
Pruney Fingers: A Gripping Story In this week’s special "Summer Science" edition of It’s Okay To Be Smart (which you have already watched, right?!), we took a quick look at why our fingers wrinkle up when we’ve been in the water for a while. While scientists used to believe this odd occurrence was just our skin getting soggy, but that explanation doesn’t hold water. Besides, if that was the case, why does this only happen in our fingers? Modern science has added a […]
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3:00 PM | Old Amber Collection Reveals Locust Evolution in Action
A chunk of 20-million-year-old amber rediscovered from an old collection reveals a locust with remnants of wings that the insect has since lost. Continue reading →
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2:46 PM | Influenza: How the Great War helped create the greatest pandemic the world has ever known | @GrrlScientist
The Great War helped create the influenza pandemic of 1918, which eventually brought an early end to the Great War.I had a little bird,Its name was Enza. I opened the window,And in-flu-enza. ~ Children's Skipping Rhyme, 1918 Like most rhymes that one learns as a child, I had no idea at the time what this one meant, nor did I ponder its possible meaning as I grew older. But one afternoon, this poem's significance became startlingly clear to me. As I sat in a large university lecture hall where […]

Taubenberger J.K. (2006). 1918 Influenza: the Mother of All Pandemics, Emerging Infectious Diseases, 12 (1) 15-22. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1201.050979

Gamblin S.J. (2004). The Structure and Receptor Binding Properties of the 1918 Influenza Hemagglutinin, Science, 303 (5665) 1838-1842. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1093155

Barry J.M. (2004). The site of origin of the 1918 influenza pandemic and its public health implications (Commentary), Journal of Translational Medicine, 2 (3) DOI: 10.1186/1479-5876-2-3

Humphries M.O. (2014). Paths of Infection: The First World War and the Origins of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, War in History, 21 (1) 55-81. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0968344513504525

Osterholm M.T. (2005). Preparing for the Next Pandemic, New England Journal of Medicine, 352 1839-1842. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp058068

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11:03 AM | Australian Megafauna A-Z: E is for Ekaltadeta
In honour of the fact that I recently attended the Australian Mammal Society 2014 Conference, I thought it would be appropriate to continue my A-Z of Australian Megafauna series. We’ve reached the letter E (at this rate I’ll finish in 2042) and this time, we’re looking at a remarkable extinct kangaroo known as Ekaltadeta. Kangaroos are fascinating animals already, they have a remarkably efficient hopping method of locomotion, (they use their tail as a fifth leg) and females […]
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9:00 AM | Two-eyed cyclops -- the plasticity of the brain
The brain is a remarkable thing.  Part of what's so remarkable about it is how it responds to and molds itself around experience.  Alfred Wallace exempted humans from the march of evolution because we are able to do so many things that can't be attributed to natural selection: calculus, the invention of televisions and robots, smell tar and Twinkies, none of which are abilities that we specifically can thank natural selection for since they are all recent.  We can do them because […]

July 29, 2014

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6:00 PM | A Winged Cat Helps Explain The Principle Of Evolutionary Trade-Offs
You can't have it all. It's a cliché, but it's also a powerful principle in biology. Now, a set of new computer models reveal how evolutionary compromises ("trade-offs") drive the diversity of life.Read more...
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5:52 PM | Plants, polyploidy and producing new species
When I talk about my career and my interest in evolutionary biology, I often get asked, “How do you actually get new species?”. It’s not a stupid question; for people without a background in biology it really is very hard to imagine how the diversity of life we see today has formed from the types […]
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4:35 PM | Are Egg Shells a Sun Screen for Birds?
Birds' eggs show pigment and structural adaptations that let just the right amount of sun reach the embryos.
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4:02 PM | When Mom and Dad Have Different Migratory Routes, Kids Fly Right Down the Middle
It sounds like the setup to a bad joke told by zoologists: What do you get when you cross a bird that always flies to the west with one that always flies east? But the punch line is weirder than you’d guess. Birds’ migratory routes are partly coded into their DNA. A baby that inherits […]The post When Mom and Dad Have Different Migratory Routes, Kids Fly Right Down the Middle appeared first on Inkfish.

Delmore, K. & Irwin, D. (2014). Hybrid songbirds employ intermediate routes in a migratory divide, Ecology Letters, DOI: 10.1111/ele.12326

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4:02 PM | When Mom and Dad Have Different Migratory Routes, Kids Fly Right Down the Middle
It sounds like the setup to a bad joke told by zoologists: What do you get when you cross a bird that always flies to the west with one that always flies east? But the punch line is weirder than you’d guess. Birds’ migratory routes are partly coded into their DNA. A baby that inherits […]The post When Mom and Dad Have Different Migratory Routes, Kids Fly Right Down the Middle appeared first on Inkfish.

Delmore, K. & Irwin, D. (2014). Hybrid songbirds employ intermediate routes in a migratory divide, Ecology Letters, DOI: 10.1111/ele.12326

Citation
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2:45 PM | Many roads lead to Rome– HIV-1 Vif vs HIV-2 Vif
“HIV mutates a lot”. People ‘get’ that. Why is HIV hard to stop? Why is HIV hard to treat? “HIV mutates a lot”. But HIV does not mutate willy-nilly. It mutates at an evolutionarily defined rate. The reverse transcriptase enzyme makes mistakes during replication that are beneficial to HIV– creating a diverse population, a quasispecies,…
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12:00 PM | The Chikungunya Virus is in the U.S.: Get to Know the Virus
Have you heard of the chikungunya virus? The virus (pronounced chik-en-gun-ye) was discovered in 1952 in Africa, and has been slowly making its way around the world… although the pace has been quickened in recent years. The first U.S. case was reported just earlier this month, on July 17, 2014, and a second case soon … Continue reading »
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7:30 AM | Primate hands
  I want to share this amazing picture I found in a written documentary about evolutionary biology and primatology. Reference: reportage Le Figaro Magazine, juillet 2014

July 28, 2014

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11:01 PM | All 8 Pangolin Species Being Eaten into Extinction
A few days ago customs officials in Vietnam raided a cargo ship from Sierra Leone and seized an astonishing 1.4 tons of dried pangolin scales. The grisly discovery came from the bodies of as many as... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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8:54 PM | Incredible, Evo-Developmental, and Aestastical Readings!
This is an example of something I do quite often on my blog Synthetic Daisies. I also run a micro-blog on Tumblr called Tumbld Thoughts. It is a sort of developmental league for features on things from my reading queue. This allows me to combine tangentially- or thematically-connected papers into a graphically-intensive single feature. I then make […]
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2:37 PM | Simbirskiasaurus, Pervushovisaurus and their very, very strange nostrils: the Cretaceous Ichthyosaur Revolution (part III)
The event you’ve all been waiting for is here: Simbirskiasaurus and Pervushovisaurus have been resurrected, and we’re all wondering what the hell’s going on with their absurd, complex nostrils. Yes,... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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2:00 PM | Two Steps to Stop Judging Other People
My own tendency to judge (both others and myself) has long mystified me. On the one hand – yuck. A life spent judging self and others isn’t much of a life at all. Yet at times, judging others has also felt like it might serve some evolutionary purpose, perhaps even with my safety foremost in mind. […]
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1:00 PM | 'Family on All Fours' Not an Evolutionary Throwback
New study argues against notion that Turkish family members are a backward stage in human evolution.
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10:01 AM | Colossal Bad Luck Caused Dinosaurs To Go Extinct
Dinosaurs would still be around today, and humans never would have emerged, if an asteroid hadn't struck Earth right when it did 66 million years ago.
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10:01 AM | Colossal Bad Luck Caused Dinosaurs To Go Extinct
Dinosaurs would still be around today, and humans never would have emerged, if an asteroid hadn't struck Earth right when it did 66 million years ago.
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9:00 AM | On the mythology of natural selection. Part X: Finally: Traveling evolution's geodesics
Science recognizes Charles Darwin's contributions to knowledge because he was a deep thinker who largely transformed a whole area of human knowledge in ways that seem likely to be permanent.   One often refers to such inspirational figures by coining terms to acknowledge their views.  'Darwinism' is one.  To name a concept after him is entirely deserved (even his co-recognizer of the salient facts of life as an evolving history, Alfred Wallace, in 1889 referred to the idea […]
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8:00 AM | Plant evolution: The inevitability of C4 photosynthesis
C4 photosynthesis may have evolved first to correct an intercellular nitrogen imbalance, and only later evolved a central role in carbon fixation.
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4:00 AM | Discovery of a new organelle: Introducing the tannosome
With all the advances in scientific technology over the last 50 years, sometimes it’s hard to believe there are still discoveries to be made. Particularly in areas that have already received a lot of study, like the components that make up a cell. Most eleven-year-olds should be able to list …

July 27, 2014

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11:06 PM | Magnificent Conotoxins – Expanded
“… if a small and otherwise unknown organism is strikingly beautiful, it is probably poisonous; if it is not only beautiful, but also easy to catch, it is probably deadly.” -Edward O.Wilson in: THE FUTURE OF LIFE Vintage Books, March 2003 The realm of proteins Proteins are probably the most versatile molecules within a living …

July 26, 2014

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8:02 PM | Morsels For The Mind – 25/07/2014
Every day we provide you with Six Incredible Things Before Breakfast to nibble away at. Here you can fill your brain with the most intellectually stimulating “amuse bouches” from the past week – a veritable smorgasbord for the cranium. They’re all here for you to load up your plate – this week’s “Morsels for the mind”. Enjoy! If you do nothing else, make sure to check out the “Reads / views / listens of the week”. **** Star Wars […]
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8:02 PM | Morsels For The Mind – 25/07/2014
Every day we provide you with Six Incredible Things Before Breakfast to nibble away at. Here you can fill your brain with the most intellectually stimulating “amuse bouches” from the past week – a veritable smorgasbord for the cranium. They’re all here for you to load up your plate – this week’s “Morsels for the mind”. Enjoy! If you do nothing else, make sure to check out the “Reads / views / listens of the week”. **** Star Wars […]
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12:00 PM | Characterizing Planetary Systems Across the HR Diagram
The University of Cambridge Institute of Astronomy will host a 5 day scientific meeting to further our understanding of the formation and evolution of planetary systems. The meeting will focus on the full lifetime of planetary systems, from pre- to post-main sequence host star stages, and the connections that can be made by viewing these […]
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10:40 AM | Viral relics show cancer’s ‘footprint’ on our evolution
Cancer has left its ‘footprint’ on our evolution, according to a study which examined how the relics of ancient viruses are preserved in the genomes of 38 mammal species. The team found that as animals increased in size they ‘edited out’ potentially cancer-causing relics from their genomes so that mice have almost ten times as …
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10:30 AM | Marmoset sequence sheds new light on primate biology and evolution
Scientists have completed the genome sequence of the common marmoset — the first sequence of a New World Monkey — providing new information about the marmoset’s unique rapid reproductive system, physiology and growth, shedding new light on primate biology and evolution. “We study primate genomes to get a better understanding of the biology of the …

July 25, 2014

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4:35 PM | I like this hypothesis
But we have to be clear that it is only a hypothesis at this point. I was reading about domestication syndrome (DS) — selecting animals for domestication has a whole collection of secondary traits that come along for the ride, in addition to tameness. We are selecting for animals that tolerate the presence of humans,…
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