Post List

  • May 21, 2009
  • 03:30 PM

Evolution and the Individual

by AK in AK's Rambling Thoughts

(After yesterday's tour de force, this post's going to be a lot lighter, especially on the references.)Let's start by defining the individual. Are two human identical twins separate individuals? Of course. We humans have an ability to develop independent personalities, so our definition of "individual" is based on that. Even if you started with a hundred identical human clones, and raised them in a hundred similar environments/families, they'd develop separate personalities. Very similar, p........ Read more »

Hunter, M., Ismail, N., Zhang, X., Aguda, B., Lee, E., Yu, L., Xiao, T., Schafer, J., Lee, M., Schmittgen, T.... (2008) Detection of microRNA Expression in Human Peripheral Blood Microvesicles. PLoS ONE, 3(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003694  

  • May 21, 2009
  • 02:56 PM

Do Vent Crabs Do It Under the Gyre?

by Kevin Zelnio in Deep Sea News

Vent crabs live in the dark depths of the ocean. Previous studies have shown that the vent crab Bythograea thermydron has a reproductive cycle synchronized with Spring and Summer phytoplankton blooms 2.5 km above the East Pacific Rise. It was hypothesized that female crabs moved away from the toxic vents, once impregnated, to raise their [...]... Read more »

  • May 21, 2009
  • 02:14 PM

Like a £300,000 duck to water: when science meets politics

by Jacob Aron in Just A Theory

Doing the rounds this week is a story about a £300,000 government-funded research project that took three years to establish that ducks like water. Sounds like a tremendous waste of taxpayers’ money, but is it? The newspapers certainly seem to think so:

Ducks like water study ‘waste of £300,000 taxpayers’ money’ - The Guardian

Boffins’ £300k study [...]... Read more »

  • May 21, 2009
  • 01:00 PM

Pop or Primate?

by Susan Steinhardt in BioData Blogs

Referred to as “the most significant scientific discovery of recent time,” Darwinius masillae also referred to as “Ida” has created quite a media frenzy. “The Missing Link,” Ida is a 47-million-year old female adapid primate discovered in the well known Messel deposits in Germany. The discovery has resulted in a flurry of promotional activity beginning with an elaborate event at The American Museum of Natural History, as well as a History Channel documentary, ........ Read more »

  • May 21, 2009
  • 01:00 PM

Pop or Primate?

by Susan Steinhardt in The PostDoc Forum

Referred to as “the most significant scientific discovery of recent time,” Darwinius masillae also referred to as “Ida” has created quite a media frenzy. “The Missing Link,” Ida is a 47-million-year old female adapid primate discovered in the well known Messel deposits in Germany. The discovery has resulted in a flurry of promotional activity beginning with an elaborate event at The American Museum of Natural History, as well as a History Channel documentary, ........ Read more »

  • May 21, 2009
  • 12:00 PM

The Bearded Lady Revealed

by Allie Wilkinson in OH, FOR THE LOVE OF SCIENCE!

In the mid 1800s, a rare syndrome appeared for the first time in medical literature.  The case was that of Julia Pastrana, the world’s most famous bearded lady.  A new study, being published in today’s issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, reveals molecular cues about the origin and development of this rare condition.

Congenital [...]... Read more »

  • May 21, 2009
  • 10:00 AM

Ecosystem Services: Science and/or Advocacy?

by David Raikow in River Continua

Comparisons of "alternative scenarios" are, as yet, of little value.... Read more »

Nelson, E., Mendoza, G., Regetz, J., Polasky, S., Tallis, H., Cameron, D., Chan, K., Daily, G., Goldstein, J., Kareiva, P.... (2009) Modeling multiple ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, commodity production, and tradeoffs at landscape scales. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 7(1), 4-11. DOI: 10.1890/080023  

  • May 21, 2009
  • 09:47 AM

Proactive aggression: I’ll hit if you don’t hit back

by Nestor Lopez-Duran PhD in Child-Psych

Aggression researchers have increasingly supported the notion of two specific types of aggressive behaviors: proactive and reactive aggression.  Reactive aggression is usually fear-based and impulsive in nature. We all remember the child that would hit at the sightliest sense of threat or anxiety. In contrast, proactive aggression is predatory and calculated - such as what [...]... Read more »

  • May 21, 2009
  • 09:00 AM

A Nine-spotted Predator in my Backyard

by Johnny in Ecographica

Throughout the United States native coccinellid populations are on the decline. The primary factor in this decline is most likely the establishment of exotic ladybeetles which compete, and out compete, the locals for vital food resources. For native Florida ladybugs, those food resources are aphids, and with the exception of Neoharmonia venusta, which is a predator of psyllids (jumping plant lice), all of beetles listed above find them quite delicious.... Read more »

  • May 21, 2009
  • 08:29 AM

Genes, Brains and the Perils of Publication

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Much of science, and especially neuroscience, consists of the search for "positive results". A positive result is simply a correlation or a causal relationship between one thing and another. It could be an association between a genetic variant and some personality trait. It could be a brain area which gets activated when you think about something.It's only natural that "positive results" are especially interesting. But "negative" results are still results. If you find that one thing is not corre........ Read more »

Esslinger, C., Walter, H., Kirsch, P., Erk, S., Schnell, K., Arnold, C., Haddad, L., Mier, D., Opitz von Boberfeld, C., Raab, K.... (2009) Neural Mechanisms of a Genome-Wide Supported Psychosis Variant. Science, 324(5927), 605-605. DOI: 10.1126/science.1167768  

  • May 21, 2009
  • 07:06 AM

Upcoming Gig: The Italian Job at NETTAB

by Duncan Hull in O'Really?

Network Tools and Applications in Biology (NETTAB) is a series of workshops in Bioinformatics. It focuses on the most promising and innovative ICT tools and their utility in Bioinformatics. These workshops aim to introduce participants to the evolving network standards and technologies that are being applied to the field of biology.

Since 2001, the NETTAB workshops [...]... Read more »

  • May 21, 2009
  • 06:23 AM

Earthworm Research

by bug_girl in Bug Girl's Blog

Since we talked about earthworms last week…how about a little research?

When I was a kid I was taught that earthworms were good. Lots of worms was a sign of a healthy soil.

As I got older, I discovered that isn’t entirely true–some midwest soils didn’t have earthworms until Europeans showed up.  Some soils had a whole [...]... Read more »

  • May 21, 2009
  • 02:34 AM

Dark Chocolate Improves Coronary Blood Flow

by Dr Shock in Dr Shock MD PhD

Flavonoid rich dark chocolate (45 g per day) significantly improved coronary flow velocity reserve (CFVR), this means that the researchers used Doppler echocardiography to assess the ability of the coronary arteries to dilate and allow more blood flow in response to dark chocolate. Dark chocolate improves coronary circulation in healthy adults. The other group in [...]... Read more »

  • May 21, 2009
  • 02:00 AM

Getting away from it all: Why are invasive species invasive?

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

When humans move from place to place, we almost always bring other organisms with us. Sometimes it's intentional -- domestic animals carried along with Polynesian colonists, for instance. Just as often, it's accidental, as with mice stowing away on Viking longships. A lot of these introduced species have done so well in their new habitats that they become invasive, outcompeting natives and disrupting local ecosystem processes. But the species that go crazy-invasive -- the cane toads and the purp........ Read more »

Blumenthal, D., Mitchell, C., Pysek, P., & Jarosik, V. (2009) Synergy between pathogen release and resource availability in plant invasion. Proc.Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 106(19), 7899-904. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0812607106  

Vellend, M., Harmon, L., Lockwood, J., Mayfield, M., Hughes, A., Wares, J., & Sax, D. (2007) Effects of exotic species on evolutionary diversification. Trends Ecol. , 22(9), 481-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2007.02.017  

  • May 21, 2009
  • 12:30 AM

Binding by synchrony

by Brandon Goodell in Bored Lunatic

The model I'm currently investigating... rather, attempting to tear apart*... can be found here.  I'm fairly sure it's free, but since I have access to a lot of journals from school, sometimes it's hard to tell if NDSU already paid for it or whether it's free to anyone.At any rate, the paper basically develops a model to investigate the Binding-By-Synchrony (BBS) hypothesis - the idea is that two neurons (or populations of neurons) will snap together and start firing in sync with one another wh........ Read more »

  • May 21, 2009
  • 12:00 AM

Developmental "foreign accent syndrome" - cases documented for the first time

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

You may have seen cases of foreign accent syndrome (FAS) covered in the news. In 2007, for example, a ten-year-old boy acquired a new accent after undergoing brain surgery. "He went in with a York accent and came out all posh" his mother told the Guardian newspaper. It's generally been thought that FAS arises after damage to brain areas involved in controlling speech, and to date all reported genuine cases have followed brain injury or surgery. But now a team of Belgian researchers led by Peter........ Read more »

Mariën, P., Verhoeven, J., Wackenier, P., Engelborghs, S., & De Deyn, P. (2009) Foreign accent syndrome as a developmental motor speech disorder. Cortex, 45(7), 870-878. DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2008.10.010  

  • May 20, 2009
  • 10:30 PM

When the penguins invade the Standard Model

by ScienceBlogs Brazil in Brazillion Thoughts

This is a translated version of this post, written originally in Portuguese by Renan Picoreti at N-dimensional and translated by Carlos Hotta.


It is not unusual to find weird names in the middle of Physic theories. Arguably, the most famous are the one given to second and third generation quarks: Charm, Strange, Bottom and Top. The last two used to be called Beauty and Truth but, truly, the new names did not exactly recovered thei........ Read more »

  • May 20, 2009
  • 09:18 PM

Ur... Ur... Ur...

by AK in AK's Rambling Thoughts

The Placula hypothesis ResurectedIf you've never heard of placozoans, you're not alone.2 These small animals have been known for more than a century, but for a long time were dismissed as aberrant forms of cnidarian larvae.4Figure 1: Artist's rendering of a placozoan. (by Wim van Egmond using Adobe Photoshop.)However, these animals are at the center of a tangled set of mysteries regarding the beginnings of the animals. There are two recent papers,2, 6 describing a new, or rather newly reconsti........ Read more »

  • May 20, 2009
  • 09:09 PM

Ida the Fossil Primate

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

You probably know that there is a new primate fossil, nicknamed "Ida," and that there is quite a buzz about it.

Darwinius masillae, aka Ida

Ida comes from fossil deposits in Germany, and was originally excavated in two different parts by private collectors, and only recently rejoined and recognized for the amazing fossil it is. This is considered to be a new genus, and is named Darwinius masillae

...holotype skeleton in right lateral view... Ida is a 47 million year old adapid primate ........ Read more »

  • May 20, 2009
  • 07:19 PM

Fire and the changing world

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

This is probably the most appropriate blog I have ever written. My family and I were evacuated two weeks ago because of the Jesusita fire in Santa Barbara, and several homes in our neighborhood were lost. Here in Santa Barbara we have experienced multiple years of extremely large fires, with this last one occurring much earlier than previous fires.Wildfires have been a part of the Earth’s biota likely since organisms first died and dried on land. Ecosystems have been shaped by fire, numerous o........ Read more »

Bowman, D., Balch, J., Artaxo, P., Bond, W., Carlson, J., Cochrane, M., D'Antonio, C., DeFries, R., Doyle, J., Harrison, S.... (2009) Fire in the Earth System. Science, 324(5926), 481-484. DOI: 10.1126/science.1163886  

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