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  • February 3, 2015
  • 08:05 AM
  • 1,250 views

Tryin' To Make A Tricorder

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Star Trek technology is coming true; modern medicine has borrowed the idea of the tricorder. There’s currently a $10 million X Prize to produce a working model. The goal is take doctors out of the picture and allow consumers to assess their own health status. To win the money, ten teams have developed hand held devices that can diagnose 16 diseases and monitor half a dozen vital signs in real time. ... Read more »

  • January 30, 2015
  • 07:00 AM
  • 803 views

Friday Fellow: ‘Orange Jaguar Snail’

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Last week I introduced a land planarian that feeds on land snails, Obama ladislavii, or, as I called it, the Ladislau’s flatworm. Therefore, today, I thought it would be great to present a similar situation occurring … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • January 28, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 1,304 views

Crawling To The Top

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Nematodes cause horrible diseases, but they way they reproduce is the most fascinating thing about them. Their sperm aren’t shaped like typical animal male gametes. They crawl instead of swimming, and they have a type of cytoskeleton not seen in any other cell type on Earth. Yet, the nematode is the most numerous type of animal on Earth.... Read more »

Smith HE. (2014) Nematode sperm motility. WormBook : the online review of C. elegans biology, 1-15. PMID: 24715710  

H. Ferris. (2009) The beer mat nematode, Panagrellus The beer mat nematode, Panagrellus redivivus: A study of the connectedness of scientific discovery . J. Nematode Morphol. Syst., 12(1), 19-25. info:/

McKnight, K., Hoang, H., Prasain, J., Brown, N., Vibbert, J., Hollister, K., Moore, R., Ragains, J., Reese, J., & Miller, M. (2014) Neurosensory Perception of Environmental Cues Modulates Sperm Motility Critical for Fertilization. Science, 344(6185), 754-757. DOI: 10.1126/science.1250598  

  • January 27, 2015
  • 02:58 PM
  • 1,062 views

Scientific Sherlocks: The Case of the Imperial Pheasant

by Jente Ottenburghs in Evolutionary Stories

In 1923, Jean Delacour discovered a new species of Pheasant in Vietnam. But things were not as they seemed...... Read more »

  • January 23, 2015
  • 01:21 PM
  • 1,007 views

Friday Fellow: ‘Ladislau’s Flatworm’

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Friday fellow is back! After almost a year, I decided to go on with it. Actually, I interrupted it because of several other activities there were requiring my attention. Now let’s move on! Today I will … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • January 14, 2015
  • 03:43 PM
  • 740 views

Nature's Drag Queens

by Jente Ottenburghs in Evolutionary Stories

Some men like to dress up like females. But do you find drag queens in other species? It turns out Nature has some surprises up her sleeves.... Read more »

Norman, M., Finn, J., & Tregenza, T. (1999) Female impersonation as an alternative reproductive strategy in giant cuttlefish. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 266(1426), 1347-1349. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1999.0786  

Slagsvold, T. . (1991) Evolution of Plumage Color in Male Pied Flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca): Evidence for Female Mimicry. Evolution, 45(4), 910-917. info:/

  • January 14, 2015
  • 10:41 AM
  • 1,016 views

Journal Club: Birds pick nest materials with camouflage in mind

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: A recent study by a research team in Scotland reveals that birds intentionally choose colour-matching materials to camouflage their nests thereby reducing predation risk. Read more... Read more »

Bailey Ida E., Kate Morgan, Simone L. Meddle, & Susan D. Healy. (2015) Birds build camouflaged nests. The Auk, 132(1), 11-15. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1642/auk-14-77.1  

  • January 14, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 1,126 views

Everybody In The Gene Pool - Plants That Swim

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Plants can be moved by wind and water. Their pollen and seeds can be moved by insects, wind, gravity, but plants themselves don't have motile cells. Well – that’s not always true. Some trees have swimming cells; they take the plunge in order to find a mate.... Read more »

  • January 7, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 1,174 views

The Fungus And The Frog

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Amphibians are some of the most vulnerable animals on Earth. Their numbers have been crashing for years. The reasons for this are several, but one fungal infection is a big contributor. This fungus teaches us about evolution, common descent, and phylogenetics – but hopefully it’ll be eaten up by a newly discovered water flea!... Read more »

Martel, A., Spitzen-van der Sluijs, A., Blooi, M., Bert, W., Ducatelle, R., Fisher, M., Woeltjes, A., Bosman, W., Chiers, K., Bossuyt, F.... (2013) Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans sp. nov. causes lethal chytridiomycosis in amphibians. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(38), 15325-15329. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1307356110  

  • January 5, 2015
  • 02:32 PM
  • 1,150 views

Journal Club: Halfsider: a bizarre half-male half-female bird

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: A “halfsider” -- half male and half female bird -- has been mentioned in the news over the holidays. More properly known as bilateral gynandromorphs or tetragametic chimæras, these unusual birds are actually two genetically distinct individuals -- twins -- fused into one being. But what is it like to be such an individual? A recently published paper shares observations of the behaviour and social life of one such individual living in the wild.... Read more »

  • December 30, 2014
  • 10:21 AM
  • 1,754 views

9 Weird and Interesting Facts about Caecilians

by beredim in Strange Animals

There are about 200 species of caecilians (pronounced ‘seh-SILL-yuns’) but it's highly unlikely you have or will ever encounter one.  Why? Because they live underground, burrowing through loose soil and ground litter with their long, snake-like bodies.


Read on to learn 9 weird and interesting facts about these unusual creatures.



Bombay caecilian (Ichthyophis bombayensis)
Credit - Wikicommons... Read more »

Kupfer, A., Müller, H., Antoniazzi, M., Jared, C., Greven, H., Nussbaum, R., & Wilkinson, M. (2006) Parental investment by skin feeding in a caecilian amphibian. Nature, 440(7086), 926-929. DOI: 10.1038/nature04403  

  • December 30, 2014
  • 08:00 AM
  • 1,396 views

Turning New Year’s On Its Head

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

The popular phrase is, “It’s not the years in your life, but the life in your years.” Many organisms get to have both. We can learn a lot from studying old organisms, but perhaps the biggest question to answer is what constitutes a single life. Many living things seem to cheat; they have more than one life.... Read more »

  • December 29, 2014
  • 12:10 PM
  • 1,789 views

8 Weird Animal Penises

by beredim in Strange Animals

Penis, the primary sexual organ that male and hermaphrodite animals use to inseminate sexually receptive mates (usually females and hermaphrodites respectively) during sex. Almost all species use some variation of the organ to transfer sperm into females' eggs in order to create more offsprings.

However, thanks to evolution, some species have come up with some really remarkable and weird ... Read more »

  • December 28, 2014
  • 12:01 PM
  • 1,309 views

Give us a Hand, Gar: More Insights into the Evolution of Tetrapod Limbs

by Jente Ottenburghs in Evolutionary Stories

The transition from water to land is well documented in the fossil record, but genetic support is still scarce. Until now.... Read more »

Gehrke, A., Schneider, I., de la Calle-Mustienes, E., Tena, J., Gomez-Marin, C., Chandran, M., Nakamura, T., Braasch, I., Postlethwait, J., Gómez-Skarmeta, J.... (2014) Deep conservation of wrist and digit enhancers in fish. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201420208. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1420208112  

  • December 26, 2014
  • 04:49 AM
  • 1,172 views

Adorable Alien-like Bat Embryos

by beredim in Strange Animals



Credit: Dorit Hockman from the University of Cambridge




This cute alien-like thing is actually a bat embryo of the species Molossus rufus, the black mastiff bat. Adorable, ain't it?



The photo was taken by Dorit Hockman from the University of Cambridge during a study on the species' embryonic development. It was one of the finalists in the Nikon Small World 2012 photomicrography ... Read more »

Nolte, M., Hockman, D., Cretekos, C., Behringer, R., & Rasweiler, J. (2009) Embryonic Staging System for the Black Mastiff Bat,(Molossidae), Correlated With Structure-Function Relationships in the Adult. The Anatomical Record: Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology, 292(2), 155-168. DOI: 10.1002/ar.20835  

  • December 25, 2014
  • 04:57 AM
  • 1,100 views

Flying Dragons Pretend to Be Leaves to Avoid Predation

by beredim in Strange Animals




Draco cornutus
Credit: Dr. Devi Stuart Fox


A new study by researchers at the University of Melbourne suggests that Draco Cornutus, a species of gliding lizard from Borneo, mimicks  the red and green colors of the falling leaves to avoid falling prey to birds whilst gliding.



According to the study, D. cornutus have evolved extendable gliding membranes, like wings, which closely match the ... Read more »

  • December 19, 2014
  • 10:35 AM
  • 970 views

Mom, where do birds come from?

by Jente Ottenburghs in Evolutionary Stories

If you should ever get this question, the answer is rather short: “according to recent findings, birds are descended from maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs.” Makes sense, right?... Read more »

Xu, X., Zhou, Z., Dudley, R., Mackem, S., Chuong, C., Erickson, G., & Varricchio, D. (2014) An integrative approach to understanding bird origins. Science, 346(6215), 1253293-1253293. DOI: 10.1126/science.1253293  

  • December 17, 2014
  • 07:11 AM
  • 883 views

Humpback Whales Sing For Their Supper

by beredim in Strange Animals

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are known to employ group foraging techniques, however details on how individuals coordinate with each other still remain a mystery.

A new study by Susan Parks, assistant professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with a consortium of other researchers examined the importance of specific auditory cues that these whales emit... Read more »

Parks SE, Cusano DA, Stimpert AK, Weinrich MT, Friedlaender AS, & Wiley DN. (2014) Evidence for acoustic communication among bottom foraging humpback whales. Scientific reports, 7508. PMID: 25512188  

  • December 15, 2014
  • 07:00 AM
  • 1,587 views

The Paradoxical Shrinking Frog

by beredim in Strange Animals



Pseudis paradoxa in a pond
Credit: Mauricio Rivera Correa

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Hylidae
Genus: Pseudis
Species: Pseudis paradoxa
Common Name(s): Paradoxical frog or Shrinking frog
Conservation Status: Least Concern (Not Threatened)

Looks like a pretty much regular frog, doesn't it? Well.. it's not! Meet P. paradoxa, a frog that grows down ... Read more »

  • December 13, 2014
  • 09:56 AM
  • 676 views

Gibbon genome and the fast karyotype evolution of small apes

by Sandra Bosshard in genome ecology evolution etc

Gibbons (Hylobatidae) are small arboreal apes that form a key node in primate evolution. One of the most distinctive phenotype is their high genome plasticity involving large-scale chromosomal rearrangements and karyotype changes. The four gibbon genera (Nomascus, Hylobates, Hoolock, Symphalangus) … Continue reading →... Read more »

Carbone, L., Alan Harris, R., Gnerre, S., Veeramah, K., Lorente-Galdos, B., Huddleston, J., Meyer, T., Herrero, J., Roos, C., Aken, B.... (2014) Gibbon genome and the fast karyotype evolution of small apes. Nature, 513(7517), 195-201. DOI: 10.1038/nature13679  

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