Post List

All posts; Tags Include "Zoology"

(Modify Search »)

  • October 20, 2008
  • 12:00 AM

Why people believe weird things? Lack of control.

by Björn Brembs in

I've been blogging on the evolution of religion before. Initially, I just thought operant behavior would seem like a good explanation for religion: the argument tied together the observation that (1) religious people are less depressed and (2) that learned helplessness is an animal model of depression and (3) that religion helps to create a feeling of control which is known to reduce depression. I later added some ideas prompted by some recent news about geomythology. Basically, the geomyths re........ Read more »

  • October 17, 2008
  • 11:59 AM

'Fishapod' Fossil Provides More Clues for the Evolution of Terrestriality

by GrrlScientist in Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

tags: Tiktaalik rosea, sarcopterygian, fishibian, fishapods, transitional fossil, evolution, vertebrate terrestriality, vertebrate evolution

A new study on the internal anatomy of the skull of the extraordinary fish, Tiktaalik roseae, which lived 375 million years ago, provides more evidence of how vertebrate life transitioned from water to land. The head showed changes from more primitive fish that helped adapt to the new feeding and breathing conditions presented by a terrestrial environment,........ Read more »

Jason P. Downs, Edward B. Daeschler, Farish A. Jenkins, & Neil H. Shubin. (2008) The cranial endoskeleton of Tiktaalik roseae. Nature, 455(7215), 925-929. DOI: 10.1038/nature07189  

  • October 7, 2008
  • 12:00 AM

Evolution and pleiotropy

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Pleiotropy is the effect of one gene affecting multiple traits, as when Drosophila genes are expressed in more than one place during embryogenesis. For a bunch of examples of that, seeRepression and loss of gene expression outpaces activation and gain in recently duplicated fly genes, Oakley, Østman, and Wilson, 2006, PNAS, 103, 11637.In my own work on computer simulations of epistatic interactions, it is clear that pleiotropy has the effect of changing the phenotype more per mutation than with........ Read more »

  • October 3, 2008
  • 11:00 AM

Virgin birth by Komodo dragons

by Ed Yong in Not Exactly Rocket Science

According to Christian lore, Mary gave birth to baby Jesus without ever having had sex with Joseph. A biologist might describe this as 'parthenogenesis', the Greek version of the more familiar phrase 'virgin birth'('parthenos' means virgin, and 'genesis' means birth). The New Testament aside, shunning fertilisation and giving birth to young through parthenogenesis is rare among higher animals, occurring in only one in every thousand species. Nonetheless, two Christmases ago, eight virgin births ........ Read more »

Phillip C. Watts, Kevin R. Buley, Stephanie Sanderson, Wayne Boardman, Claudio Ciofi, & Richard Gibson. (2006) Parthenogenesis in Komodo dragons. Nature, 444(7122), 1021-1022. DOI: 10.1038/4441021a  

  • October 2, 2008
  • 06:46 AM

Birds Make Peace With Turbines

by Tangled Up in Blue Guy in Tangled Up In Blue Guy

European Study Indicates Little Effect on Bird Populations

A major concern for placing wind turbines on lowlands and plains has been the possible decimation of wild bird populations.  One concern is that the increased turbulence affects the avian lung through pressure differentials.

Before massively building tubine farms to try to replace coal-burning power plants concerns of the [...]... Read more »

Claire L. Devereux 1 , Matthew J. H. Denny 2† and Mark J. Whittingham 1*, & 1 School of Biology, Ridley Building, Newcastle University, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, NE1 7RU UK; and 2 Baker Shepherd Gillespie, Worton Rectory Park, Oxford OX29 4SX, UK. (2008) Minimal effects of wind turbines on the distribution of wintering farmland birds. Journal of Applied Ecology, (9999)((9999)), 9999-99999. DOI:  

  • September 29, 2008
  • 11:58 AM

Insect learning: trace conditioning and spike timing-dependent plasticity

by Björn Brembs in

The most well-known molecular mechanism of learning involves coincidence detection. In post-synaptic LTP, the NMDA receptor only opens fully if a postsynaptic depolarization has removed the magnesium block by the time glutamate arrives at the receptor. In pre-synaptic facilitation, adenylyl cycase only generates large amounts of cAMP when stimulated both by transmitter and by coincident Ca2+ influx. Thus, in both cases, you need neural activity (i.e., action potentials or spikes) to coincide ont........ Read more »

Iori Ito, Rose Chik-ying Ong, Baranidharan Raman, & Mark Stopfer. (2008) Sparse odor representation and olfactory learning. Nature Neuroscience, 11(10), 1177-1184. DOI: 10.1038/nn.2192  

  • September 25, 2008
  • 03:37 PM

Love, Sex and War in the Seychelles

by GrrlScientist in Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

tags:, Seychelles magpie-robin, Copsychus sechellarum, behavioral ecology, conservation biology, endangered species, population dynamics, ornithology, birds

Seychelles magpie-robin, Copsychus sechellarum.

Image: Tony Randell (Wikipedia) [larger view].

Every once in awhile, I read a paper that surprises me. Today, I read one of those papers, and it surprised me because it analyzes a phenomenon that is so obvious that I wonder why no one ever thought of studying it in a systemati........ Read more »

  • September 18, 2008
  • 09:59 AM

Ratite Flight: Lost But Not Forgotten

by GrrlScientist in Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

tags: ratite, tinamous, evolution, biogeography, phylogenomics, convergence, flightlessness, Paleognath, homoplasy, vicariance

White-throated Tinamou, Tinamus guttatus.

Image: Wikipedia.

New research suggests the ostriches, emus, rheas and other flightless birds known as ratites have lost the ability to fly many times, rather than just once, as long thought. Further, the ratites appear to form a group with the tinamous, a group of birds that can fly, while the ostriches are set apart as the "........ Read more »

J. Harshman, E. L. Braun, M. J. Braun, C. J. Huddleston, R. C. K. Bowie, J. L. Chojnowski, S. J. Hackett, K.-L. Han, R. T. Kimball, B. D. Marks.... (2008) Phylogenomic evidence for multiple losses of flight in ratite birds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(36), 13462-13467. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0803242105  

  • September 17, 2008
  • 10:40 AM

What did Leonardo eat for lunch?

by Laelaps in Laelaps

"Leonardo," the mummy dinosaur, courtesy of the HMNS.

Although it got a brief treatment in the book Horns and Beaks, many people have been waiting for more information on the exceptionally-preserved Brachylophosaurus skeleton named "Leonardo." Due to be unveiled next week at the Houston Museum of Natural Science (the date was pushed back due to Hurricane Ike; the museum and Leonardo were unharmed), the fossil provides a unique look at the soft tissues of this particular dinosaur.

Dinosaur "mu........ Read more »

  • September 1, 2008
  • 07:00 PM

What the heck is a Placozoan, anyway?

by GrumpyBob in Flies and Bikes

I was intrigued by a brief news piece in the latest issue of Science to fall onto my desk (the 22nd August issue).  This concerns the recently published genome sequence of Trichoplax adhaerens, a peculiar animal in a phylum I'd never heard of.  That in itself was interesting, particularly as placozoans have a really odd body plan that invol [...]... Read more »

Mansi Srivastava, Emina Begovic, Jarrod Chapman, Nicholas H. Putnam, Uffe Hellsten, Takeshi Kawashima, Alan Kuo, Therese Mitros, Asaf Salamov, Meredith L. Carpenter.... (2008) The Trichoplax genome and the nature of placozoans. Nature, 454(7207), 955-960. DOI: 10.1038/nature07191  

  • August 27, 2008
  • 03:49 AM

Holy magnetic cow!!

by Madhu in Reconciliation Ecology

File this one under the "who woulda thunk it?", or "why didn't I think of this?" or simply "whaaa...?!" categories! Quick, can you tell which way is north in this picture?

Do you think of asking the cow for directions? Why not? For it seems that cow probably knows which way north is! Read on...

You know, these big dumb-seeming large mammals you pass by every day, these big walking, grazing... Read more »

S Begall, J Cerveny, J Neef, O Vojtcch, & H Burda. (2008) Magnetic alignment in grazing and resting cattle and deer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0803650105  

  • July 24, 2008
  • 07:00 PM

In the Journals - Tasmanian Devil Tumours

by GrumpyBob in Flies and Bikes

... Read more »

M. E. Jones, A. Cockburn, R. Hamede, C. Hawkins, H. Hesterman, S. Lachish, D. Mann, H. McCallum, & D. Pemberton. (2008) Life-history change in disease-ravaged Tasmanian devil populations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(29), 10023-10027. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0711236105  

  • April 28, 2008
  • 12:00 AM

Using colour without seeing colour

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

I started off my research career with octopuses when I was in a landlocked prairie province. And my supervisor talked from time to time about the deep mystery that cephalopods (squids, octopus, cuttlefish) could use colour, but couldn't see colour. So this is the sort of paper I've been waiting a long while to read.... Read more »

Lydia Mäthger, Chuan-Chin Chiao, Alexandra Barbosa, & Roger T Hanlon. (2008) Color matching on natural substrates in cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis . Journal of Comparative Physiology A. DOI: 10.1007/s00359-008-0332-4  

  • April 15, 2008
  • 09:30 AM

In the beginning was the fat

by 96well in Reportergene

So you are an imaging scientist. Probably you master an in vivo imaging system (CCD) and spend most of your working time in a lonely dark room collecting some spare photons coming out from a bioluminescent mouse, or frog, or zebrafish, or tobacco plant. Get out! Viviani and colleagues from the Sao Carlos University made some promenades during summer nights to collect adults and larvae of Aspisoma lineatum (Brazilian fireflies). Then they made some in vivo imaging with fireflies, just to discover........ Read more »

  • April 7, 2008
  • 12:00 AM

Not looking for tail

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

The peacock's tail is the example of a feature that seems to have evolved not for survival, but for attracting mates. And it is truly spectacular, as the video clip shows. One explanation for the great size of the tail is that if females prefer mating with males with large tails, those males will have greater reproductive success.... Read more »

M TAKAHASHI, H ARITA, M HIRAIWAHASEGAWA, & T HASEGAWA. (2008) Peahens do not prefer peacocks with more elaborate trains. Animal Behaviour, 75(4), 1209-1219. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.10.004  

  • March 28, 2008
  • 12:00 AM

Resurrecting Jackrabbits (Citizen Science Watch: Easter Edition)

by Madhu in Darwin's Bulldogs

In the January 2008 issue of The Oryx, Dr. Joel Berger (of the University of Montana and the Wildlife Conservation Society) published an interesting short article on the likely local extirpation of white-tailed jackrabbits from the Yellowstone region - a cautionary tale about the potential problems of undetected extinctions and their potential ramifications cascading up through food webs. The current issue of the journal is freely accessible, so at least for now you can read the whole article he........ Read more »

  • February 14, 2008
  • 12:00 AM

Research: Spiders on Indian coffee farms

by Julie Craves in Coffee & Conservation

Ants and butterflies are often the two most studied arthropods on coffee farms; this study examined the community structure of spiders in two organic shade coffee farms and ten rainforest fragments ... Read more »

  • November 30, 1999
  • 12:00 AM

How many species concepts are there?

by John Wilkins in GrrlScientist

It's an old question in biology: what is a species? Many answers have been given over the years – I counted 26 in play, and recently a new one, the "polyphasic" concept has been introduced... Read more »

John S. Wilkins. (2006) The Concept and Causes of Microbial Species. History , 389-408. info:/

  • November 30, 1999
  • 12:00 AM

Spiders as catalysts for ecosystem development

by Chris Buddle in Arthropod Ecology

In this post, the role of spiders in the development of ecosystems is discussed, especially in light of their ability to colonize habitats rapidly. ... Read more »

  • November 30, 1999
  • 12:00 AM

Honeypot Ants - Live food storage units

by beredim in Strange Animals

Honey ants are a weird class of ant-workers that engorge themselves with food. Overtime, their abdomen gets as big as a grape. In times of need, they will either regurgitate the stored liquid or sacrifice themselves to feed the rest of the colony. ... Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SRI Technology.

To learn more, visit