Post List

  • August 6, 2010
  • 10:11 AM

Pakasuchus: The Croc That Ate Like a Mammal

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Modern crocodylians—from alligators to gharials—can’t chew their food. Their jaws are adapted for snapping shut quickly and powerfully on prey, but once these archosaurs have captured their meal, they must either swallow it whole or tear off a smaller piece and bolt it down. Given that these extant species are often cast as “living fossils” [...]... Read more »

O’Connor, P., Sertich, J., Stevens, N., Roberts, E., Gottfried, M., Hieronymus, T., Jinnah, Z., Ridgely, R., Ngasala, S., & Temba, J. (2010) The evolution of mammal-like crocodyliforms in the Cretaceous Period of Gondwana. Nature, 466(7307), 748-751. DOI: 10.1038/nature09061  

  • August 6, 2010
  • 10:06 AM

The Pickle Menace

by Paul Statt in Paul Statt Communications

The superannuated antics of old-time public health reformers are good for a laugh. But in the folk memory of many Americans, the Keystone Healthkare Kops are still at work, trying to “tell us what’s good for us.”... Read more »

  • August 6, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Time Course of Incretin Responsiveness to Bariatric Surgery

by Arya M. Sharma in Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes

A rapidly accumulating body of evidence supports the profound impact of bariatric surgery on patients with type 2 diabetes, often resulting in complete resolution of this condition.
Two of the key mechanisms by which bariatric surgery improves glucose control are related to weight loss and to changes in the secretion of gut hormones that influence metabolism. [...]... Read more »

Bose M, Teixeira J, Olivan B, Bawa B, Arias S, Machineni S, Pi-Sunyer FX, Scherer PE, & Laferrère B. (2009) Weight loss and incretin responsiveness improve glucose control independently after gastric bypass surgery. Journal of diabetes, 2(1), 47-55. PMID: 20676394  

  • August 6, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Nothing but the finest...feces

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

There comes a moment in every biology blogger’s life when he or she must write about poop.

This is one of those moments.

When a paper’s title includes phrase, “fecal particle size,” sometimes, one just thinks, “Okay, I really should read that, if for no other reason than it was clearly a lot of unpleasant work for someone.”

The intellectual issue here relates to the difference digestive strategies of mammals and reptiles. Mammals chew; reptiles generally don’t. This has a lot of........ Read more »

Fritz, J., Hummel, J., Kienzle, E., Streich, W., & Clauss, M. (2010) To chew or not to chew: fecal particle size in herbivorous reptiles and mammals. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology. DOI: 10.1002/jez.629  

  • August 6, 2010
  • 07:27 AM

… and the case for physics in biology

by Becky in It Takes 30

John Higgins pointed me to this superb discussion of the challenges for physicists posed by biological systems (Phillips, R., & Quake, S. (2006). The Biological Frontier of Physics Physics Today 59 38-43).  In this paper Rob Phillips and Stephen Quake offer — as a public service — three examples of big fascinating problems in biology [...]... Read more »

Phillips, R., & Quake, S. (2006) The Biological Frontier of Physics. Physics Today, 59(5), 38. DOI: 10.1063/1.2216960  

  • August 6, 2010
  • 05:27 AM

Don’t Bite: Does Self Control Determine Class?

by Jason Goldman in Child's Play

Just to be clear, we’ll be talking here about class, folk psychology, and my high school math teacher.  But as ever, I’ve buried the lead.  Now for some recap, before we get on to the good stuff – In the last post, we found that the behavior exhibited in the classic cookie task is more [...]... Read more »

  • August 6, 2010
  • 05:08 AM

Stubbing out thoughts of smoking leads smokers to end up smoking more

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Try not to think of a white bear and what happens? You end up thinking of a white bear. This idea that suppressing thoughts makes them rebound stronger is well-established in psychology [pdf]. Now James Erskine and his co-workers have shown that the same or a similar process can lead behaviours to rebound too.

Eighty-five smokers (average age 31), none of whom were currently trying to quit, were divided into three groups for three weeks. One group was instructed to spend the middle week avoid........ Read more »

Erskine JA, Georgiou GJ, & Kvavilashvili L. (2010) I Suppress, Therefore I Smoke: Effects of Thought Suppression on Smoking Behavior. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS. PMID: 20660892  

  • August 6, 2010
  • 01:11 AM

Friday Weird Science: PEEEEE… INNN….SPAAAACE!!!!

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

Sci may have mentioned before just how much she loves Mary Roach’s writing (warning, the webpage has a roach on the front. I’m warning you because if you’re like Sci and have a roach phobia, it can be…unpleasant. Just scroll down to the bottom of the screen and avoid it). Mary Roach, author of Stiff: [...]... Read more »

  • August 5, 2010
  • 11:48 PM

Can smoking pot make you smarter?

by Michael Slezak in Good, Bad, and Bogus

Is it possible that if you have schizophrenia, smoking marijuana will actually improve your cognitive performance?
Since this blog is often concerned with the relationship between science and its communication, something which has come up once or twice here is the way drug and alcohol research is reported in the media.
Very often, it is reported that [...]... Read more »

  • August 5, 2010
  • 11:24 PM

…we’re all wrong, but at least we rightly know we’re wrong. Right?

by Rift in Psycasm

Before I started psychology I earned a degree in Business with an extended major in Advertising. When I tell people this they often go ‘Wow, that’s different. What made you make such a big change?’ I had this exact conversation yesterday. My response (which is well practised by now) is advertising is about making people [...]... Read more »

  • August 5, 2010
  • 07:26 PM

When applicants for medical residencies plagiarize.

by Janet D. Stemwedel in Adventures in Ethics and Science

Long-time readers of this blog will know that plagiarism is a topic that comes up with some regularity, sometimes fueled by “kids today!” stories from the mainstream media, and sometimes due to actual research on plagiarism in different educational and professional spheres. Today, let’s have a look of a report of one such investigation, “Plagiarism [...]... Read more »

Segal S, Gelfand BJ, Hurwitz S, Berkowitz L, Ashley SW, Nadel ES, & Katz JT. (2010) Plagiarism in residency application essays. Annals of internal medicine, 153(2), 112-20. PMID: 20643991  

  • August 5, 2010
  • 06:52 PM

R and Google Earth ~ comparing tuna tracks vs. Gulf of Mexico oil spill extent

by apeescape in mind of a Markov chain

There is a lot of interest in how the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher will affect the ecosystem and its marine species. One such species is the Western Atlantic bluefin tuna that holds the Gulf of Mexico as one of its major spawning grounds. Recent tag data show that the location of the gusher is [...]... Read more »

  • August 5, 2010
  • 05:21 PM

by Cristy at Living Donor 101 in Living Donors Are People Too

I hardly even know where to begin with Aaron Spital, MD. He is so pro-living donation that he concocts justifications for opinions not based on fact or logic, and refuses to acknowledge that living donors are vulnerable human beings with the same rights as the sick recipient and the almighty surgeon. In his 2001 article, he addresses Informed Consent (not necessary) and the Right to Donate (doesn't exist; a surgeon's rights come first). "Sometimes even competent people make rash decisions or are........ Read more »

  • August 5, 2010
  • 05:00 PM

Fosmid cloning enables new techniques in synthetic biology

by epibio in EpiCentral

In a recent functional genomics study, Sommer et al. cite the use of the CopyControl™ Fosmid Library Production Kit to create a library from plant biomass DNA. Plant biomass is being explored for use in new biofuel development, in an effort to discover genetic functionalities that will allow growth improvement in key microbes by overcoming toxic/inhibitory compounds that are byproducts of biofuel conversions. Clones harboring these fosmids were tested against seven known growth inhibitors from........ Read more »

  • August 5, 2010
  • 04:57 PM

Neury Thursday: Neural Mechanisms of Song Learning

by Allison in Dormivigilia

Researchers at Duke have elucidated the neural mechanisms of song learning and recall in swamp sparrows. Using neurophysiology, it was observed that songs learned during juvenile years are more strongly encoded and surprisingly, there was no difference between those songs sung and simply heard. This is remarkably different from human speech learning.... Read more »

Jonathan F. Prather, Susan Peters, Stephen Nowicki,and Richard Mooney. (2010) Persistent Representation of Juvenile Experience in the Adult Songbird Brain. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(31). info:/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6042-09.2010

  • August 5, 2010
  • 03:51 PM

The Context for Early Maize at Chaco

by teofilo in Gambler's House

In my earlier post about Stephen Hall‘s recent paper reporting on maize pollen at Chaco Canyon dating as early as 2500 BC, I said briefly that this really shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who’s been following this kind of research closely, and also that I would discuss the context for it later.  Basically, the context [...]... Read more »

Merrill, W., Hard, R., Mabry, J., Fritz, G., Adams, K., Roney, J., & MacWilliams, A. (2009) The diffusion of maize to the southwestern United States and its impact. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(50), 21019-21026. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0906075106  

  • August 5, 2010
  • 01:00 PM

Fine Reading: The Sex Habits of Fungi

by Moselio Schaechter in Small Things Considered

by Elio
As luck would have it, two pieces of writing on the sex habits of fungi appeared within days of each other. One is light reading, a post in the admirable Cornell Mushroom Blog entitled A Fungus Walks Into a Singles Bar. This is a précis into the complex story of fungal sexuality. It takes you...... Read more »

  • August 5, 2010
  • 12:35 PM

Memory, observation, and consciousness in Octopus Vulgaris

by Mike Mike in Cephalove

          A while back, I wrote a post about short and long term memory processes in cephalopods.  I wrote then that there is good evidence for a dissociation of short and long term memory process in cephalopods, but that this isn't a good basis (alone) for inferring the presence of consciousness, or in the case of arguments about animal's rights, the capacity to suffer (which, I guess, usually comes along with being conscious.)  I stand by ........ Read more »

  • August 5, 2010
  • 12:11 PM

Trees that farm bacteria

by Lab Rat in Lab Rat

One of the factors that is occasionally (rather inaccurately) used to separate plants from animals is that plants generally don't move. Some have fast moving parts, such as the venus fly trap, but they are still usually stuck in one place in the ground. Which means that once they've decided to grow they are totally dependent on their immediate surroundings for nutrients.As nutrients are not always plentiful many trees form symbiotic relationships with bacteria, for example nitrogen fixing bacte........ Read more »

  • August 5, 2010
  • 11:46 AM

Somatic mutations and pathway alterations in cancer

by Sally Church in Pharma Strategy Blog

"The systematic characterization of somatic mutations in cancer genomes is essential for understanding the disease and for developing targeted therapeutics." So began today's journal article from a letter to Nature (link below) from scientists at Genentech. They went on to...... Read more »

Kan, Z., Jaiswal, B., Stinson, J., Janakiraman, V., Bhatt, D., Stern, H., Yue, P., Haverty, P., Bourgon, R., Zheng, J.... (2010) Diverse somatic mutation patterns and pathway alterations in human cancers. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature09208  

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