Field of Science
Science books for 14-year-olds10 hours ago in The Curious Wavefunction
Tree Peonies in flower17 hours ago in The Phytophactor
Metereca3 days ago in Variety of Life
A Parasitic Eel?3 days ago in Catalogue of Organisms
Bioplastic from weaver's broom4 days ago in Doc Madhattan
An aspirin a day keeps the grim reaper away1 week ago in Genomics, Medicine, and Pseudoscience
How do non-competence genes respond to competence inducting treatment?2 weeks ago in RRResearch
And with that I'll take both good and bad questions...3 weeks ago in Pleiotropy
Why I'm Marching for Science4 weeks ago in Angry by Choice
Will democracy survive climate change? - A lesson from the past2 months ago in History of Geology
You can win the Electoral College with 22% of the vote5 months ago in PLEKTIX
Implications of Charles law in a biological matrix: farts8 months ago in The Culture of Chemistry
Harnessing innate immunity to cure HIV9 months ago in Rule of 6ix
WE MOVED!9 months ago in Games with Words
Bryophytes Outdoors11 months ago in Moss Plants and More
Do social crises lead to religious revivals? Nah!1 year ago in Epiphenom
If You Are Against Nuclear Power1 year ago in The Astronomist
FieldNotes: water on Mars, less in California.1 year ago in Field Notes
A New Wave of Science Blogging?2 years ago in Labs
Update: Tree of Eukaryotes (parasitology edition)2 years ago in Skeptic Wonder
post doc job opportunity on ribosome biochemistry!2 years ago in Protein Evolution and Other Musings
Growing the kidney: re-blogged from Science Bitez2 years ago in The View from a Microbiologist
22 health lessons from “Trust me, I’m a Doctor”2 years ago in The Allotrope
Blogging Microbes- Communicating Microbiology to Netizens2 years ago in Memoirs of a Defective Brain
Out of Office3 years ago in inkfish
The Molecular Circus4 years ago in A is for Aspirin
The Lure of the Obscure? Guest Post by Frank Stahl4 years ago in Sex, Genes & Evolution
Girlybits 101, now with fewer scary parts!5 years ago in C6-H12-O6
Lab Rat Moving House5 years ago in Life of a Lab Rat
Goodbye FoS, thanks for all the laughs5 years ago in Disease Prone
JAPAN'S RADIOACTIVE OCEAN | DEEP BLUE HOME6 years ago in The Greenhouse
Slideshow of NASA's Stardust-NExT Mission Comet Tempel 1 Flyby6 years ago in The Large Picture Blog
in The Biology Files
In the meantime, the Iowa Caucus is weighing heavily on me—at least for the next three days. I'm uncommitted so-far, and that is weird for me. I'm usually a man of strong opinion and steady conviction... But none of the candidates (Democrats, of course) are floating my boat this time around. Perhaps it's because I'd vote and probably even campaign for any of them in November. I just don't see huge differences among them.
Politically, Dennis Kucinich is closest to my convictions as was re-iterated by my third assessment by this poll. But I have a hard time supporting Dennis this time around, even though I caucused for him in 2004 (when he & Dean were the only anti-war candidates). That's not to mention that Kucinch has all but forgotten Iowa this year (too bad for us).
The other choices are really pretty good. Last week I was leaning toward Joe Biden, who I blogged about earlier this fall. The recent debacles in Pakistan have certainly made me think even harder about international diplomacy (per se, not just foreign policy in general) as a key issue. I have always liked Joe's frank style, even if it gets him in trouble sometimes.
A few weeks ago, I went with my family to see Barack Obama (and Oprah) and it was made clear to me why people are excited about him. I like Obama, but there seems to be something substantive that's missing. My wife and many of our friends are Obama supporters, but I'm not sure what it is that's keeping me from jumping on the train. I think that Barack will be the nominee.
Which brings me to yesterday. Although I had not paid much attention to Bill Richardson so far, I saw that he was in town giving a speech and attending a few house-parties. So I decided to go and see for myself. I was impressed. I asked him about education and he was right on the mark. He knows that we are in dire straights for science and math teachers. When I asked Bill to guess how many of this year's ~60 student class that I teach (mostly junior/senior biology majors) were planning to be teachers, he correctly stated "zero" (usually 2-4 in previous years). This is scary—where will the next generation of teachers come from?? Richardson's plan includes a national minimum salary for teachers ($40K), which is a great start. Bill has a national service plan that would pay college tuition in exchange for voluntary national service. He's not just talking military here, either. His credentials in the international diplomacy arena (where we have lots of catching up to do) are really amazing. When I asked him about Science Debate 2008, he was interested and asked me to forward some info to the campaign (which I did).
How about today? Only three more days to go! I spent an hour this morning reading the Des Moines Register special Caucus section after watching some of the Sunday political talk. Hillary Clinton is giving a speech on Tuesday in Iowa City that I will probably attend. John Edwards and Chris Dodd are also in town in the next day or two. I hope that I'll be able to decide by Wednesday.
"Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, we, the undersigned, call for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the issues of The Environment, Medicine and Health, and Science and Technology Policy."Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum over at The Intersection have assembled a crack list of scientists and science bloggers to launch the the ScienceDebate2008 website. If you are so inclined, go over and pledge your support. They have also set up rapidly-growing groups over at facebook and myspace.
The award traces to An Unquiet Mind where the stated rules are:
This award is intended for those bloggers who demonstrate an inclination to think on their own. This is what I think is needed in today’s blogosphere. The term ‘Intellectual’ has often been derided in recent times, and this is one way to resurrect the true meaning: “An intellectual is one who tries to use his or her intellect to work, study, reflect, speculate on, or ask and answer questions with regard to a variety of different ideas.” The rules are:I hereby nominate:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with nominations for 5 blogs that you think are of “Intellectual Bloggers”.
2. Optional: Link to this page so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Intellectual Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.
- Tree of Life (Jonathan Eisen; even though he doesn't like these memes)
- Aetiology (Tara Smith)
- Twisted Bacteria (Cesar Sanchez)
- Small Things Considered (Elio)
- Evolgen (RPM)
- Sandwalk (Larry Moran)
This paper is the first in a series of papers that is emerging from Banoo Malik's PhD thesis and is a result of a long-standing project with former postdoc Marilee Ramesh (now at Roanoke College). It's also the first of a number of meiotic "gene stories" that we have been untangling over the past few years. The image shown is a summary of the phylogenetic distribution of Spo11 homologs that we determined. The paper is not Open Access (sorry); however, if you are interested in reading it and do not have a subscription to MB&E, drop me an email.
Spo11 is a meiotic protein of fundamental importance as it is a conserved meiosis-specific transesterase required for meiotic recombination initiation in fungi, animals and plants. Spo11 is homologous to the archaebacterial topoisomerase VIA (Top6A) gene, and its homologs are broadly distributed among eukaryotes, with some eukaryotes having more than one homolog. However, the evolutionary relationships among these genes are unclear, with some debate as to whether eukaryotic homologs originated by lateral gene transfer. We have identified and characterized protist Spo11 homologs by degenerate PCR and sequencing and by analyses of sequences from public databases. Our phylogenetic analyses show that Spo11 homologs evolved by two ancient eukaryotic gene duplication events prior to the last common ancestor of extant eukaryotes, resulting in three eukaryotic paralogs: Spo11-1, Spo11-2 and Spo11-3. Spo11-1 orthologs encode meiosis-specific proteins and are distributed broadly among eukaryotic lineages, though Spo11-1 is absent from some protists. This absence coincides with the presence of Spo11-2 orthologs, which are meiosis-specific in Arabidopsis and are found in plants, red algae and some protists, but absent in animals and fungi. Spo11-3 encodes a Top6A subunit that interacts with topoisomerase VIB (Top6B) subunits, which together play a role in vegetative growth in Arabidopsis. We identified Spo11-3 (Top6A) and Top6B homologs in plants, red algae, and a few protists, establishing a broader distribution of these genes among eukaryotes, indicating their likely vertical descent followed by lineage-specific loss.
"organisms such as fungi should be given a demotion — placed further from animals on the tree — while green plants should get a leg up."This is the case, apparently according to a recently-published paper from John Stiller at East Carolina University.
Gregory is (rightfully) annoyed at the suggestion of any group "getting "demoted" one way or another because this idea of rank (was) should have been abandoned 150 years ago." and that was the main point of his post. Ryan has been (again, rightfully) critical of science reporting and this doozey has all of the right parts, as detailed in his Anatomy of a bad science story.
However, there have been a series of comments about the veracity of the Stiller paper, so I thought I would make a few of my own here. First of all, it should be duly noted that the paper in question, Plastid endosymbiosis, genome evolution and the origin of green plants, is explicitly labelled as "Opinion"; this is on top of the fact that it is published in the review journal TRENDS in Plant Science—not a primary research venue. Neither of these facts are damning to the work, but they certainly suggest caution in reporting the findings.
Second, it is fair to say that this hypothesis (wrongly called "Stiller's theory" by the Discovery story) is way out of the mainstream of current thought. Again, this alone should neither preclude the publication nor, by itself, lend it to immediate scorn. It's great to see such examples of how science works in the marketplace of ideas. But we all know that just because something gets published, does not mean it's right.
In any case, there are two main components that Stiller argues in this paper:
- that the "Plantae" [Viridiplantae (green algae & land plants), Rhodphyta (red algae) and Glaucocystophyta] are not a monophyletic group, and
- that the Viridiplantae are more closely related to animals than are fungi.
The data on the sisterhood of animals and fungi grouping to the exclusion of plants (e.g., Viridiplantae) is about as solid as deep relationships among eukaryotes can be. A nice summary of these results was recently presented in PLoS Genetics. Since the paper is Open Access, I won't repeat the findings here (full disclosure: although I am not an author of this paper, I do collaborate with them). Suffice it to say that there is not even a hint of evidence that Viridiplantae is closer to animals that are fungi as suggested by Stiller. Note also that these authors are not particularly bullish on "Plantae" either.
Stiller cites the presence of certain enzymes and protein domains in both plants and animals (apparently absent in the fungi) as evidence for a closer relationship of plants to animals. But the problem is that such things only have to be lost once in the fungal lineage (if they have been lost at all) to make these cases complete non-sequiturs. To explain why plants don't fit in with animals, Stiller would rather invoke some sort of bias in the data. Although such biases may exist, I am very cautious about invoking an entire reworking of the tree based on them.
Stiller ends with four "Future Perspectives" of which I find the following most telling:
"There should be no a priori assumption that the strongest tree-building signal in a given data set reflects evolutionary history rather than bias in the data."I'll file that in the category of "Things that make you say Hmmm".
Daily (or throughout the day):
Sandwalk. Bravo, Larry!
Pharyngula. Does PZ sleep?
Tree of Life. Jonathan says things that I wish I would have said (& some I'm glad I didn't).
FemaleScienceProfessor. Wow. FSP is anonymous and it really works!
Slightly less than daily:
Fungal Genomes & Comparative Genomics
The Evilutionary Biologist
More than weekly:
all the rest.
I introduced myself as a Biology Professor and asked him about his thoughts on basic science funding. Without hesitation, he said that he would support a doubling of the NIH and NSF budgets. When I asked if I could post that comment on my blog, Biden agreed. He also was keenly aware that the although funding for both has increased in recent years under the current administration, it has not been effective at increasing basic science. I don't know how much of that was just telling me what I wanted to hear, but I was pleased.
He signed my book "Keep the faith. Keep on teaching" I don't know about the former....
On a related topic, check out the following link that matches your views to those of the current presidential candidates.
The release of this book is good timing for me, too. I have a recently-funded project in my lab to study the evolution of sex and meiosis in diverse fungi. A postdoctoral position is available in my lab immediately to work on this project. Send me an email if you are interested in hearing more.
Vandy gave a clear talk which was followed by some questions by the audience and commitee members. His post-seminar defense was rather short--his committee didn't even grill him! What a lucky guy. Afterwards, Vandy was treated to a reception hosted by the Vaccine Center (where Silvija's lab was located--she is now at Merck). After the festivities, Vandy and I spent the remaining afternoon celebrating over a few beers (picture above taken at that time) while listening to The Raconteurs. Later, accompanied by Vandy's girlfriend, Mitzi (who drove) we had dinner and a few more beers at the Brick Store Pub. I'm proud to add Vandy to my list of PhD grads. Congratulations, Dr. Vanderford!
"Our choir is large, but much of it remains in the closet. Our repertoire may include the best tunes, but too many of us are mouthing the words sotto voce with head bowed and eyes lowered. It follows that a major part of our consciousness-raising effort should be aimed, not at converting the religious but at encouraging the non-religious to admit it – to themselves, to their families, and to the world. This is the purpose of the OUT campaign."PZ has already added his few cents to this and as I post, there are are already 319 comments.
Picture credit here. Thanks Matti A.
The other reason to post here about The Simpsons is the fun piece in Nature this week entitled "Mmm...Pi" that discusses the science-based humor that has permeated The Simpsons for years. The "Top Ten Science Moments" are worth remembering.
Sorry for the long haitus & thanks for staying tuned! Summer time has been keeping me busy this year.
So, what does this big red "A" above mean? Click it and find out for yourself. The folks over at RichardDawkins.net have launched an internet effort to let the world know that there are alot of us OUT there. I'm happy to be OUT. Here's a snippet from the site:
"As more and more people join the OUT Campaign, fewer and fewer people will feel intimidated by religion. We can help others understand that atheists come in all shapes, sizes, colours and personalities. We are labourers and professionals. We are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers and grandparents. We are human (we are primates) and we are good friends and good citizens. We are good people who have no need to cling to the supernatural."When you see the A, you know!
The Livingstone Performing Arts Foundation (LiPAF) mission is to create and perform traditional and original works of music, song and dance which reflect the history, culture, languages and ethnic background of
(although I don't think that she followed #5)
- We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
- Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
- People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
- At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
- Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.
2. I shook hands with Dave Loebsack today at the Coralville 4th of July Parade. Dave is our freshman Democrat congressman who beat out long-standing incumbent Republican Jim Leach last fall. I asked Dave to "keep up the good work" and to pay particular attention to health care and science funding. He assured me that he will do so.
3. I have a motorcycle, but I don't ride it enough. It's a 1995 Honda Shadow VT600C that I got when I finished my PhD 12 years ago. I have been planning to upgrade to a bigger bike someday (a Harley Fat Boy would be nice).
4. I spent a year studying abroad at University College, Swansea (now Swansea University) in Wales as an undergraduate (1985-1986). I took philosophy and psychology courses there because I was unsure about biology at that time.
5. I like my coffee black and my art abstract. Peets Arabian Mocha-Java is my favorite coffee. Rothko and Pollack are among my favorite artists.
6. I played baritone sax when I was in high school. I was particularly interested in jazz and even once won a solo contest at the state level. I considered a music major in college, but quickly realized that I was not as prepared (and committed!) as I needed to be. Lately, I have been considering picking it back up (but I need to buy one first!).
I hereby tag:
"I'm glad that John Logsdon has been working on this, rather than me."Thanks, Rosie!
I usually go to each of these annual meetings separately, so having them together will make for quite a week! Both myself and Banoo Malik from my lab will be giving talks, so there will be some sexy gene evolution available for general consumption (in addition to the sex talk to be provided by Rosie Redfield). I'll also be spending time enjoying the wonderful city of Halifax (where I lived for 4+ years as a postdoc), catching up with many friends and colleagues and getting together with some bloggers, too.
Tara reports on the selection of University of Iowa's new president, Dr. Sally Mason, who is currently (until July 31) the Provost at Purdue. I'm thrilled about Dr. Mason as our new leader, as are many of us here. She's a biologist, which makes me happy, but that's not all. I heard Sally speak last week at her interview and I left the room feeling truly inspired. I was surprised to have that reaction, but I came to find out that I was not the only one who did. When I heard Sally speak at her introduction on Thursday, she left me with the same feeling. I think we scored a great catch here at Iowa.
Tara also files a detailed report on her recent "Field trip to the Creation Museum". As she concludes
"...$27 million spent on a Creation "museum," not to mention all the hours of donated labor. Meanwhile, our kids are failing to learn even basic science knowledge in school. Disheartening to a scientist, to say the least."
From there, I went directly to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a week of vacation with my family. The main agenda items for me are given in the title to this post. I spent 4 of 5 days on the beach, drinking beer, body-surfing and other water-frolicking, napping and reading books when possible (one day was spent recovering from a sun-burn).
Beach. We (12 of us, comprising both my immediate and extended family) stayed in a guest house in Hatteras which was situated ~5 min from the Atlantic Ocean. It was glorious. The kids (myself included) has a great time splashing in the waves and digging in the sand. Thanks to my sister, Beth, for making the arrangements.
Beer. Throughout the week, I emptied many bottles of Red Hook's Longhammer IPA. This was a perfect beach beer. It's both tasty and refreshing! Of course, there were a few bottles of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (my standard libation) consumed, too.
Books. Although I brought more than I could possibly finish, here are the ones I actually cracked (and in a couple cases, finished): Blink (Malcom Gladwell); Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman); Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert Pirsig); Killing Yourself to Live (also Chuck Klosterman).
So it's back to reality for me, but at least I enjoyed myself on the Outer Banks!
Banoo's dissertation, entitled "The early evolution of meiotic genes", is based on her in-depth analyses of the evolutionary histories of meiotic genes. She gave a really terrific talk on her work that led to a extensive series of questions from the audience. Banoo then successfully held court with her committee, who spent some of the time arguing amongst themselves on matters of scientific import (always a good thing in a defense!). The meeting was immediately followed by a celebration including bubbly liquid. On the following day, a party in her honor was held at my home. Good job, Banoo!
"we can hardly believe that in 21st century America, this childish comic-book fantasy is being taken seriously by anyone."The National Center for Science Education has posted an assembly of media reactions.
Thanks to Kate Hudson at Secret Sex Lives of Animals for the lead. Image from Gregory Ball.
"Birds do it. Bees do it. Humans do it. In fact every animal on this earth does it. But do they all do it the same way? Mating habits in the animal kingdom range from the sublime to ridiculous, but each animal, in their own unique way, accomplishes the same goal.More weird and wonderful sex in the blogosphere. Gotta love it!
Welcome to the Secret Sex Lives of Animals, a weekly column written by an evolutionary biologist on the bizarre, wonderful, colourful and sometimes shocking world of animal mating habits. The Secret Sex Lives of Animals is published each Monday at and short updates appear throughout the week."
Thanks to Coturnix for the lead.
My first day (actually, part day) was capped off with a really fun, but in many ways maddening, lecture from Norman Pace. Norm was on my PhD committee, and it was the first time I had seen him for 12 years. The talk was wonderfully vintage Norm—even some of the phrases were the same as I remembered. That's not to say that the talk was at all tired. Norm is so fun to see in the spotlight; in this case, he had a big and well-deserved stage on which to perform! As an historical aside, Norm's class on the biochemistry of nucleic acids at Indiana University was the only biochemistry course that I ever took that started by reference to a rRNA tree of life. Norm has been ahead of the curve for a long time...
A major—and provocative—theme of Norm's talk is that we microbiologists should strike the word "procaryote" (or prokaryote, as I prefer to spell it) from our vocabulary. This is not a trivial matter for the microbiologists in attendance, both from practical and intellectual points of view. This part of his talk followed directly from his recently published piece in Nature entitled "Time for a change." (2006) 441:289. I happen to strongly disagree with Norm on this point and am much more aligned with the views subsequently published by Martin & Koonin entitled "A positive definition of prokaryotes" in Nature (2006) 442: 868. Although I'm too short on energy to do so now, I'll try to decipher my notes and give a more clear account of what Norm said (and my reactions to it) in the coming days.
This I don’t believe: a parenting guide for us
A review of Parenting Beyond Belief. On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion, by Dale McGowan (Editor) AMACOM/American Management Association (April 30, 2007)
A search of Amazon.com for books containing the word “parenting” in their title yields ~4000 hits. This sounds like a huge number, but for those of you with kids, it’s probably not terribly surprising. Parenting books are a major market. A quick browse through the titles reveals both general parenting guides and some very specific categories (Nighttime Parenting, Financial Parenting, Militant (?!) Parenting, You-Name-It Parenting…). Indeed, a considerable fraction of these books are focused on religious parenting of various flavors (for example, 87 titles contained “christian parenting”)—and this presumably excludes other parenting guides available only in religious bookstores.
If you have kids, you probably have at least a few—and possibly many—parenting books. In my home, we have no less than 24 such books; for us, that’s 12 per child! But none of these books are aimed at a significant part of our demographic: we are non-believers. With the impending publication in late April 2007 of Parenting Beyond Belief (herein, PBB) we—and many of you—will no longer be left behind. Depending on how you feel about parenting books, you may or may not consider this good news. But now you won’t have the excuse that none of them are aimed at secularist (atheist, freethinking, etc.) parents.
The PBB website (http://parentingbeyondbelief.com) touts that this book is “for loving and thoughtful parents who wish to raise their children without religion. There are scores of books available for religious parents. Now there's one for the rest of us.” Ok, so what if someone found an untapped niche in the parenting genre…is the book any good? The quick answer: it’s a really good, and in some places great, little book.
PBB is a collection of essays from a variety of authors on a wide range of parenting topics. Most pieces tackle issues specific to non-belief parenting but many also deal with more general topics. The editor, Dale McGowan, a writer, educator, husband and parent of three, has pulled off the difficult task of weaving together diverse parts into a very cohesive whole. It sure helps that most of these parts (the individual essays) are simply terrific! PBB is broken into nine topical chapters. For each chapter, McGowan provides a brief, but clear, introduction and synthesis; then he lets the contributors’ pieces stand on their own. Most of them do so with flair.
You can either read PBB from cover-to-cover, or pick-and-choose based on your topic of interest. If you do the latter, don’t skip the first chapter “Personal Reflections”. In my view, McGowan started with the strongest material—it simply blows away the standard parenting book drivel and sets a great tone for the rest of book. The essays by Julia Sweeney and Penn Jillette are truly wonderful. I really enjoy Penn’s no-holds-barred-style:
“Those of us who are out of the closet atheist parents have all the extra time on Sunday mornings to love our kids…Tell your kids that there’s no god and be done with it...your kids aren’t stupid.”But this approach may not be for everyone and, to balance things out, some of the essays are more circumspect. I am also really pleased to see that a favorite essay from Richard Dawkins is included here. “Good And Bad Reasons For Believing” is an open letter that Dawkins wrote to his 10-year-old daughter on the nature of evidence and belief (reprinted from A Devil's Chaplain). I am moved every time I read it.
PBB is not only an interesting and enjoyable read, it is also stuffed full with good information and pointers to other sources. Each chapter ends with “Additional Resources” that includes websites, books and other helpful information. But it doesn’t even end there. On the website you’ll find a useful study guide available for free download. The reader is advised that “the study guide – like the book itself – is intended only as a starting point”. So don’t wait to get started.
© John M. Logsdon, Jr., Ph.D.
The funding comes from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($10 mil) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation ($2.5 mil). Wow. This is big science for "organismal biology" and it will put a whole lot of good data in one open-access place. Congratulations to those who had the vision to get this launched and thanks to the funding organizations for making it happen!
"A group of the world's leading scientists announced yesterday that they had joined forces to document the world's 1.8 million named species in a massive new "Encyclopedia of Life." The unprecedented $12.5 million effort -- a collaboration of Chicago's Field Museum, Harvard University, the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass., the Smithsonian Institution, the Biodiversity Heritage Library and the Missouri Botanical Garden -- aims to create separate Web pages on every known species within a decade."
Go have a look at www.eol.org. They already have some cool Demo Pages. For example, the image above comes from the Yeti Crab page. The home page says it all:
"Comprehensive, collaborative, ever-growing, and personalized, the Encyclopedia of Life is an ecosystem of websites that makes all key information about life on Earth accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world. Our goal is to create a constantly evolving encyclopedia that lives on the Internet, with contributions from scientists and amateurs alike. To transform the science of biology, and inspire a new generation of scientists, by aggregating all known data about every living species. And ultimately, to increase our collective understanding of life on Earth, and safeguard the richest possible spectrum of biodiversity."Click here for the Press Release.
Just in case anyone missed it, I should at least point out a recent paper, "Coevolution of Male and Female Genital Morphology in Waterfowl" by PLR Brennan et al. in PLoS ONE. The study was the subject of an interesting article by Carl Zimmer in this week's New York Times, which has met with considerable discussion in the blogosphere including this nice summary by Coturnix.
Not only is the long and twisted penis an interesting feature itself, the correlated complex morphology in the female genital tract makes this a really provocative case of probable sexual conflict driving the evolution of genitalia.
The image (of an Argentine lake duck) comes from a 2001 paper published in Nature, "Sexual selection: Are ducks impressed by drakes' display?", by KG McCracken et al.
However, my membership may be short-lived if we can raise enough money to support our Iowa City Darwin Day efforts! Click here to find out more. Once shorn, I'll be donating my hair to Locks of Love.
I need to figure out if my counter is looking at total hits or unique visitors (I assumed the latter; does anyone know?).
The image is from Gregory's recent book which, unfortunately, I have not yet read. It's been on my list for a while...