234 posts · 316,968 views
Owing to popular demand among the readership of this blog, I've taken a closer look at the original article claiming that spent coffee grounds can be employed as a source of fuel. There are several important details that come though in the paper coming out in the next issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that have not come through in the press reports. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
Kondamudi, NarasimharaoMohapatra, Susanta, & Misra, Mano. (2008) Spent Coffee Grounds as a Versatile Source of Green Energy. Agicultural and Food Chemistry.
Allen's Rule. One of those things you learn in graduate school along with Bergmann's Rule and Cope's Rule. It is all about body size. Cope's Rule ... which is a rule of thumb and not an absolute ... says that over time the species in a given lineage tend to be larger and larger. Bergmann's Rule says that mammals get larger in colder environments. Allen's Rule has mammals getting rounder in colder climates, by decreasing length of appendages such as limbs, tails and ears.
All three rules ........ Read more »
M. A. Serrat, D. King, & C. O. Lovejoy. (2008) Temperature regulates limb length in homeotherms by directly modulating cartilage growth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0803319105
It is hard to kill fungus. Well, not really. They can't handle being burned and chlorine does them in and lots of other chemicals are bad for hem. But when a fungus infects a person ... like with Aspergillos, an infection with Aspergillus in the lungs, fungi are tricky. To kill an infectious agent, one typically poisons it somehow, but to ingest, inject, inhale, or even topically apply a chemical may also affect the person. The reason it is relatively easy to kill an infecting bacterium than........ Read more »
Eveline Snelders, Henrich A. L. van der Lee, Judith Kuijpers, Anthonius J. M. M. Rijs, János Varga, Robert A. Samson, Emilia Mellado, A. Rogier T. Donders, Willem J. G. Melchers, & Paul E. Verweij. (2008) Emergence of Azole Resistance in Aspergillus fumigatus and Spread of a Single Resistance Mechanism. PLoS Medicine, 5(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0050219
Did Past Climate Changes Promote Speciation in the Amazon?
Any time you've got a whopping big river like the Amazon (or a mountain chain like the Andes, or an ocean, or whatever), you've gotta figure that it will be a biogeographical barrier. Depending on the kind of organisms, big rivers, high mountains, oceans, forests, deserts, and so on can provide a habitat or a barrier, and when there is a barrier, populations may end up splitting across that barrier and diverging to become n........ Read more »
Scott Solomon, Mauricio Bacci, Joaquim Martins, Giovanna Gonçalves Vinha, Ulrich G Mueller, & Peter M Bennett. (2008) Paleodistributions and Comparative Molecular Phylogeography of Leafcutter Ants (Atta spp.) Provide New Insight into the Origins of Amazonian Diversity. PLoS ONE, 3(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002738
A new study published by Chiao et al. in the journal PLoS ONE explores the gendered nature of American voting behavior. Subjects were asked to rank politicians -- based only on photographs of each politician's face -- along different quality scales, and also to choose among these photographs who should be President. The study concludes that male and female candidates are evaluated on distinctly different terms, and that male and female voters do this evaluation in somewhat (but not dramaticall........ Read more »
Joan Y. Chiao, Nicholas E. Bowman, & Harleen Gill. (2008) The Political Gender Gap: Gender Bias in Facial Inferences that Predict Voting Behavior. PLoS ONE, 3(10). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003666
Dino spoor, that is. A recently reported finding in PLoS ONE clarifies a number of questions about how certain dinosaurs held their front limbs (zombie/Frankenstein-position palm-down vs. huggie-wuggie palms-facing-each-other). This research confirms ...
that early theropods, like later birds, held their palms facing medially, in contrast to ... prints previously attributed to theropods that have forward-pointing digits. Both the symmetrical resting posture and the medially-facing palms there........ Read more »
Andrew R. C. Milner, Jerald D. Harris, Martin G. Lockley, James I. Kirkland, & Neffra A. Matthews. (2009) Bird-Like Anatomy, Posture, and Behavior Revealed by an Early Jurassic Theropod Dinosaur Resting Trace. PLoS ONE, 4(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004591
Solanum tuberosum, is an American cultivar related to the tomato and the eggplant (Remarkably, they are all in the same genus, but rarely to all three appear in the same dish). Potatoes, the lovely underground storage organ (USO) without which we would not have French Fries, or dipping chips to eat during the Super Bowl, twice baked potatoes, or Mr. Potato Head and his family, were domesticated by Native Americans in two local centers, one in the high Andes in eastern Venezuela and northern Arg........ Read more »
Mercedes Ames, & David Spooner. (2008) DNA from herbarium specimens settles a controversy about origins of the European potato. American Journal of Botony, 252-257. http://www.amjbot.org.floyd.lib.umn.edu/cgi/content/full/95/2/252
Or, more accurately, did these dinosaurs either engage in intraspecific combat (such as territorial or mating contests among males) or fight predators such as Tyrannosaurs, like in the movies?
Well, one thing we know for sure: If any folklore, belief, or 'fact' related to a fossil species sits around long enough, eventually someone will come along and study it. This usually involves reformulating the idea as one or more testable hypotheses, then attacking the hypotheses ... much like Tyrann........ Read more »
The end-Permian mass extinction event was the big daddy of all the known mass extinction events. Life on the planet Earth was almost entirely wiped out. A new paper explores the post-extinction recovery of ecological systems. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
Sarda Sahney, & Michael Benton. (2008) Recovery from the most profound mass extinction of all time. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, -1(1), -1--1. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2007.1370
According to a study just coming out in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, "variations in emotional intelligence--the ability to identify and manage emotions of one's self and others--are associated with orgasmic frequency during intercourse and masturbation." Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
Burri, A., Cherkas, L., & Spector, T. (2009) Emotional Intelligence and Its Association with Orgasmic Frequency in Women. Journal of Sexual Medicine. DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01297.x
It has become virtually axiomatic that as climate shifts or other potential insults to the ecology of a given area occur, plants and animals enclosed in parks bounded by "impermeable" landscapes are at great risk. Instead of the extreme ranges of a plant or animal moving north or south, or across a gradient of rainfall, or up or down in elevation, organisms that are protected in parks are also stuck in the parks and risk local extinction when change happens or disease becomes endemic, or poachi........ Read more »
Western, D., Russell, S., & Cuthill, I. (2009) The Status of Wildlife in Protected Areas Compared to Non-Protected Areas of Kenya. PLoS ONE, 4(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006140
It almost seems like there are two separate research project under way regarding the evolutionary history of Homo sapiens. One focuses on recent humans, tends to use DNA as a major source of information, and from this base projects back into the past. This approach tends to confirm the idea that humans share an African origin with a subsequent spread from Africa, with various degrees of complexity in that series of historical events. The other focuses on early human remains, sometimes includi........ Read more »
M SCHILLACI. (2008) Human cranial diversity and evidence for an ancient lineage of modern humans. Journal of Human Evolution. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2007.10.010
The amount of ice lost to the sea from Antarctica has increased by 75 percent in the last 10 years. This is the result of an increase in glacial flow. It had previously been thought, and perhas was the case, that Greenland ice loss outpaced the Antarctica. This is no longer the case. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
Eric Rignot, Jonathan Bamber, Michiel van den Broeke, Curt Davis, Yonghong Li, Willem van de Berg, & Erik van Meijgaard. (2008) Recent Antarctic ice mass loss from radar interferometry and regional climate modelling. Nature Geoscience. DOI: 10.1038/ngeo102
It has long been known that incest is not as bad as you think. Anti-cousin marriage laws are like prohibition laws and blue laws. They arise from a Christian conservative movement that swept Western Civilization from the late 18th century through the 19th century, up to about the time of the repeal of Prohibition.
Sure, marrying, or just plain having sex with, your sibling is disgusting. I mean, think about it. No, wait, don't even think about it. But cousin marriage? That depends. Your ........ Read more »
Diane B. Paul, & Hamish G. Spencer. (2008) “It's Ok, We're Not Cousins by Blood”: The Cousin Marriage Controversy in Historical Perspective. PLoS Biology, 6(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060320
I first became acquainted with the Romanovs (as historical figures, not the actual Romanovs) reading in middle school about Russian History. Later, someone turned me on to Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra, which is quite a well known popular historical account of the last Czar of Russia and his family. Everyone knows the story of the end. The core of Czar's family -- the Czar Nicholas, his wife Alexandra, and his children -- had been arrested and all of them were transported to a remote locati........ Read more »
Coble MD, Loreille OM, Wadhams MJ, Edson SM, Maynard K, & et al. (2009) Mystery Solved: The Identification of the Two Missing Romanov Children Using DNA Analysis. PLoS ONE, 4(3). DOI: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0004838
A paper just out in Genomics presents a very thorough study of cat genetics. Cat as is in kitty cat. The findings are expected, yet surprising in a few areas. The conclusion the authors draw about cat origins is very weak, in my view, but the information this study provides about cat breed genetics is excellent and will be of value cats around the world.
Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
M LIPINSKI, L FROENICKE, K BAYSAC, N BILLINGS, C LEUTENEGGER, A LEVY, M LONGERI, T NIINI, H OZPINAR, & M SLATER. (2008) The ascent of cat breeds: Genetic evaluations of breeds and worldwide random-bred populations. Genomics, 91(1), 12-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.ygeno.2007.10.009
What was Neanderthal-Modern Human interaction really like? Fifty four teeth (some of which are fragments) and nine other bones dating to about 40-43,000 years ago represent the "most recent, and largest, sample of southern Iberian late Neanderthals currently known."
These and some closely related remains may indicate that these Middle Paleolithic holdouts were kissing cousins of nearby anatomically modern humans. Or maybe not.
We know that Neanderthals occupied all of Europe for over 125........ Read more »
Michael J. Walker, Josep Gibert, Mariano V. Lopez, A. Vincent Lombardi, Alejandro Perez-Perez, Josefina Zapata ́ ́ ́, Jon Ortega, Thomas Higham, Alistair Pike, Jean-Luc Schwenninger.... (2008) Late Neandertals in Southeastern Iberia: Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo, Murcia, Spain . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: http://www.pnas.org.floyd.lib.umn.edu/content/early/2008/12/12/0811213106.abstract
Individual animals that live and and forage in groups may not always benefit from a particular move (to or from a foraging site) in the same way as other individuals in the group. Therefore, there must be some kind of negotiation among the critters. Theoretical work almost always seem to show that consensus based group decisions will prevail because this minimizes individual costs. The altnernative, despotic decision (where a dominant individual decides where the group goes) should rarely happ........ Read more »
A KING, C DOUGLAS, E HUCHARD, N ISAAC, & G COWLISHAW. (2008) Dominance and Affiliation Mediate Despotism in a Social Primate. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2008.10.048
It turns out that a recently discovered population of land iguanas on the Galapagos is probably a new species that represents the basal (original) form of Galapagos land iguana. Moreover, this iguana is found in an unexpected place, according to a paper just coming out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
And it's pink. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
G. Gentile, A. Fabiani, C. Marquez, H. L. Snell, H. M. Snell, W. Tapia, & V. Sbordoni. (2009) An overlooked pink species of land iguana in the Galapagos. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0806339106
Snell, H.L., Snell, H.M., & Tracy, C.R. (1984) Variation among populations of Galapagos land iguanas (Conolophus): contrasts of phylogeny and ecology. Biological Journal of the Linnean Sociey, 185-207.
C. S. HICKMAN, & J. H. LIPPS. (1985) Geologic Youth of Galapagos Islands Confirmed by Marine Stratigraphy and Paleontology. Science, 227(4694), 1578-1580. DOI: 10.1126/science.227.4694.1578
One item is just published in the Journal of Climate. Simply put, the use of some very sophisticated and probably quite trustworthy models suggests that extratropical cyclones (so this means winter storms and such, mainly) will have a good deal more precipitation in them.
In the model ...
... There is a small reduction in the number of cyclones but no significant changes in the extremes of wind and vorticity in both hemispheres. ... The largest changes are in the total precipitation, where a ........ Read more »
Bengtsson, L., Hodges, K., & Keenlyside, N. (2009) Will Extratropical Storms Intensify in a Warmer Climate?. Journal of Climate, 22(9), 2276. DOI: 10.1175/2008JCLI2678.1
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