Post List

  • July 14, 2010
  • 06:00 PM

Bad science journalism the fault of chickens or eggs?

by Lucas in thoughtomics

News sites left and right are picking up a story that “Scientists solved the chicken or egg problem”. Google News aggregated 164 news articles at the time of writing, with more being added every minute. The typical introduction runs like this:
It is the age-old question that has stumped the finest minds for thousands of years. [...]... Read more »

Freeman, C., Harding, J., Quigley, D., & Rodger, P. (2010) Structural Control of Crystal Nuclei by an Eggshell Protein. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 49(30), 5135-5137. DOI: 10.1002/anie.201000679  

  • July 14, 2010
  • 05:04 PM

Designer Genes

by Jessica Harvey in Berkeley Science Review Blog

Synthetic biology is a promising field of research that aims, in part, to engineer organisms to produce medicines and biofuels. Its allure lies in using biological building blocks and pathways, already exquisitely designed by nature, to produce essential materials for human use (instead of trying to re-invent everything ourselves from scratch). Continue reading →... Read more »

Gibson, D., Glass, J., Lartigue, C., Noskov, V., Chuang, R., Algire, M., Benders, G., Montague, M., Ma, L., Moodie, M.... (2010) Creation of a Bacterial Cell Controlled by a Chemically Synthesized Genome. Science, 329(5987), 52-56. DOI: 10.1126/science.1190719  

  • July 14, 2010
  • 04:21 PM

Scientists closely examine causes of frog abnormalities

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

urrently, research on the possible causes of limb deformities in amphibians is expansive, with evidence supporting parasite infection, chemical contaminants, UVB radiation and amputation as possible factors. However, as Mari Reeves from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and colleagues explained in an article in the August issue of Ecological Monographs, the most likely cause of amphibian abnormalities is a combination of several stressors.

... Read more »

Reeves, M., Jensen, P., Dolph, C., Holyoak, M., & Trust, K. (2010) Multiple stressors and the cause of amphibian abnormalities. Ecological Monographs, 80(3), 423-440. DOI: 10.1890/09-0879.1  

  • July 14, 2010
  • 03:52 PM

Words as alleles: A null-model for language evolution?

by Wintz in A Replicated Typo

For me, recent computational accounts of language evolution provide a compelling rationale that cultural, as opposed to biological, evolution is fundamental in understanding the design features of language. The basis for this rests on the simple notion of language being not only a conveyor of cultural information, but also a socially learned and culturally transmitted [...]... Read more »

  • July 14, 2010
  • 03:52 PM

Words as alleles: A null-model for language evolution?

by Wintz in A Replicated Typo 2.0

For me, recent computational accounts of language evolution provide a compelling rationale that cultural, as opposed to biological, evolution is fundamental in understanding the design features of language. The basis for this rests on the simple notion of language being not only a conveyor of cultural information, . . . → Read More: Words as alleles: A null-model for language evolution?... Read more »

  • July 14, 2010
  • 03:43 PM

Online self management: works for some

by Bronwyn Thompson in Healthskills: Skills for Healthy Living

Given that you’re reading this, I suspect that the thought of an on-line approach to managing pain wouldn’t take a terrible stretch of the imagination. The idea is certainly appealing – after all, there are many, many people with chronic low back pain in the community, and not nearly so many clinicians specialised (or even … Read more... Read more »

Chiauzzi E, Pujol LA, Wood M, Bond K, Black R, Yiu E, & Zacharoff K. (2010) painACTION-Back Pain: A Self-Management Website for People with Chronic Back Pain. Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.). PMID: 20545873  

  • July 14, 2010
  • 03:33 PM

Why fireflies flash

by Kent in Uncommon Ground

OK. So you probably already know that fireflies flash to attract mates, but did you know that some of them flash synchronously?1An entire forest can seem to flash at the same time. In a very cool paper in last week's...... Read more »

  • July 14, 2010
  • 03:10 PM

Y Chromosome I: A Brief History

by Kele in Kele's Science Blog

This first post in my Y chromosome series will briefly discuss the history of Y chromosome research. The general outline is derived from the introduction of Skaletsky et al. (2003). I will hopefully fill in the numerous missing parts as the series continues. Anyway…... Read more »

Painter, T. (1921) The Y-Chromosome in Mammals. Science, 53(1378), 503-504. DOI: 10.1126/science.53.1378.503  

Skaletsky, H., Kuroda-Kawaguchi, T., Minx, P., Cordum, H., Hillier, L., Brown, L., Repping, S., Pyntikova, T., Ali, J., Bieri, T.... (2003) The male-specific region of the human Y chromosome is a mosaic of discrete sequence classes. Nature, 423(6942), 825-837. DOI: 10.1038/nature01722  

STERN C. (1957) The problem of complete Y-linkage in man. American journal of human genetics, 9(3), 147-66. PMID: 13469791  

  • July 14, 2010
  • 03:00 PM

Paul the Psychic Octopus: A watery lesson in understanding clinical evidence

by Lorimer Moseley in BodyInMind

So the World Cup justifiably goes to Spain and it seems that Paul, the now world famous psychic octopus, predicted the results.  In fact Paul demonstrated a seemingly legendary clairvoyant ability.  Wikipedia informs us that he predicted the outcome of all of Germany’s games and the final with unerring accuracy. You may not have realised [...]... Read more »

  • July 14, 2010
  • 03:00 PM

Reovirus infection of farmed salmon

by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog

Global fish farming may be the solution to the impending collapse of the commercial fishing industry, but penned fish are susceptible to infectious diseases. Infection with salmon infectious anemia virus, an orthomyxovirus, lead Wal-Mart to stop buying farmed salmon from Chile, the world’s second largest producer of the fish. As a consequence Chilean farmed salmon are being immunized to prevent infection. Heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI) is another disease of farmed salmon, fi........ Read more »

Palacios G, Lovoll M, Tengs T, Hornig M, Hutchison S, Hui J, Kongtorp RT, Savji N, Bussetti AV, Solovyov A.... (2010) Heart and skeletal muscle inflammation of farmed salmon is associated with infection with a novel reovirus. PloS one, 5(7). PMID: 20634888  

  • July 14, 2010
  • 02:07 PM

Sponge Genomes: Simply Complex

by Lucas in thoughtomics

You might not think much of sponges. Maybe you feel that they’re only good for rubbing your back and cleaning your kitchen sink. While you’re absolutely right that sponges have to be admired for their absorbing qualities, they have much more to offer this world. Like on the front of early animal evolution: [...]... Read more »

Matija Harcet, Masa Roller, Helena Cetkovic, Drago Perina, Matthias Wiens, Werner E.G. Müller, and Kristian Vlahovicek. (2010) Demosponge EST sequencing reveals a complex genetic toolkit of the simplest metazoans . Molecular Biology and Evolution. info:/10.1093/molbev/msq174

  • July 14, 2010
  • 01:41 PM

Bacterial needles and their role in infection

by Lab Rat in Lab Rat

I spent ages over the title of this post. The original paper "Injecting for infection" was my favorite but it isn't wonderfully clear. It sounds like something about dirty needles; bacterial colonies over the surface of injections. In reality it's about something far more amazing, the little needles that bacteria make themselves, in order to inject toxins into the cells that they destroy.Officially these are called Type III secretion systems, as they allow the secretion of toxins (and other thin........ Read more »

  • July 14, 2010
  • 11:50 AM

Perception and Short-Term Unconscious Adaptation of Human Locomotion

by Michael Long in Phased

Christopher Rhea (Purdue University, United States) and coworkers have shown that our locomotor system can adapt to training independently of conscious perception. This news feature was written on July 14, 2010.... Read more »

  • July 14, 2010
  • 11:34 AM

Anne’s picks of the June literature: Fluvial Geomorphology and Landscape Evolution

by Chris Rowan in Highly Allochthonous

How do rivers erode bedrock streams, during big floods, and in the presence of groundwater? Laboratory and accidental experiments are providing some cool new insights. Continue reading →... Read more »

  • July 14, 2010
  • 11:28 AM

Modern agriculture a major control of increased rates of dust flux from continent to ocean

by Brian Romans in Clastic Detritus

Strong winds can pick up dust particles* from continents and carry them thousands of kilometers where they are deposited on the ocean floor. Deserts are especially important contributors of dust with the Sahara Desert of northern Africa being the single largest source of mineral dust in the world.  The occurrence of this process has been [...]... Read more »

Mulitza, S., Heslop, D., Pittauerova, D., Fischer, H., Meyer, I., Stuut, J., Zabel, M., Mollenhauer, G., Collins, J., Kuhnert, H.... (2010) Increase in African dust flux at the onset of commercial agriculture in the Sahel region. Nature, 466(7303), 226-228. DOI: 10.1038/nature09213  

  • July 14, 2010
  • 10:49 AM

Autism And Wealth

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

We live in societies where some people are richer than others - though the extent of wealth inequality varies greatly around the world.In general, it's sad but true that poor people suffer more diseases. Within a given country almost all physical and mental illnesses are more common amongst the poor, although this isn't always true between countries.So if a certain disease is more common in rich people within a country, that's big news because it suggests that something unusual is going on. Aut........ Read more »

  • July 14, 2010
  • 10:42 AM

Spurs and blades on the wings of jacanas, lapwings, sheathbills and archaeotrogonids (clubs, spurs, spikes and claws part II)

by Darren Naish in Tetrapod Zoology

A little while back we looked at the claws, bony knobs and other structures present on the hands of certain palaeognaths, waterfowl and other birds. Time to look at more of this sort of stuff - I kind of got distracted by lapwing taxonomy, so this is all going on for a bit longer than expected, sorry. Anyway... Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

  • July 14, 2010
  • 10:05 AM

When ecological opportunity knocks, does adaptive radiation answer?

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

One of the most basic questions in evolutionary ecology is, "why are there more kinds of this kind of critter than that kind of critter?" As in, why are there more than twenty thousand species of orchids, but only one species of ginkgo? Why are there hundreds of thousands of species of beetles, but only four species of horseshoe crab? In a literature review just released online—and my first publication as lead author!—my coauthors and I assess the support for one hypothesis: that species mul........ Read more »

Alfaro, M., Santini, F., Brock, C., Alamillo, H., Dornburg, A., Rabosky, D., Carnevale, G., & Harmon, L. (2009) Nine exceptional radiations plus high turnover explain species diversity in jawed vertebrates. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 106(32), 13410-4. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0811087106  

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  

Grant, B., & Grant, P. (1989) Natural selection in a population of Darwin's finches. The American Naturalist, 133(3), 377-93. DOI: 10.1086/284924  

Wheat, C., Vogel, H., Wittstock, U., Braby, M., Underwood, D., & Mitchell-Olds, T. (2007) The genetic basis of a plant insect coevolutionary key innovation. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 104(51), 20427-31. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0706229104  

Yoder, J.B., Des Roches, S., Eastman, J.M., Gentry, L., Godsoe, W.K.W., Hagey, T., Jochimsen, D., Oswald, B.P., Robertson, J., Sarver, B.A.J.... (2010) Ecological opportunity and the origin of adaptive radiations. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.02029.x  

  • July 14, 2010
  • 10:03 AM

Taung, 2.3 Million Years Ago – Scratched bones and fossil primate teeth as keys to a lost world

by Laelaps in Laelaps

On December 23, 1924, the Australian anatomist Raymond Dart chipped away the last bit of rock encasing the skull of a small fossil primate. The specimen had been part of a collection of fossil scraps sent to him from a limestone quarry in Taung, South Africa - not too far from where he was teaching [...]... Read more »

  • July 14, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Uncinate processes link birds and dinosaurs

by EcoPhysioMichelle in C6-H12-O6 (old)

I read a lovely paper last night that took to task the findings of an older paper by one of my closest collaborators. I think both papers are very strong papers and I would love to discuss my thoughts on the issue here, but I feel as though the topic might be a little too [...]... Read more »

Codd, J. (2010) Uncinate processes in birds: Morphology, physiology and function☆. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A: Molecular , 156(3), 303-308. DOI: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2009.12.005  

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