Post List

  • April 1, 2010
  • 10:02 PM
  • 993 views

Magnets, Morality and Misrepresentation

by The Twenty-first floor in The Twenty-first floor

Have you ever read a science story in a newspaper and just not understand what the point of the research was?

Alex Buque looks at the recent moral compass and magnets hoo-haw and wonders what all the fuss is.... Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 09:36 PM
  • 761 views

Cold Blooded Cognition

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

She: “What are you writing about?”
Me: “Cognition in cold-blooded animals.”
She: “Hot.”
Most people who study cognition focus on mammals or birds. But I hope I’ve convinced you that other animals are important to investigate as well. One research group at the University of Vienna likes cold-blooded critters. Turtles and lizards and such. They argue:
Reptiles, birds and [...]... Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 09:10 PM
  • 490 views

On the Spot

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Computer system tracks penguins by their chest markings

... Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 08:13 PM
  • 744 views

Rats Who Can't Read Good: A Rodent Model for Dyslexia

by Livia in Reading and Word Recognition Research

Accesibility:  Intermediate

Dyslexic rats? Really? Well, these rats can’t read, but they’re still used as an animal model for dyslexia.



First, some background. The underlying cause of dyslexia is still under debate, but it’s generally accepted that it involves deficits in auditory and phonological (language sounds) processing, with a possibility of visual deficits as well. Post mortem



... Read more »

Galaburda AM, LoTurco J, Ramus F, Fitch RH, & Rosen GD. (2006) From genes to behavior in developmental dyslexia. Nature neuroscience, 9(10), 1213-7. PMID: 17001339  

  • April 1, 2010
  • 07:55 PM
  • 580 views

Darwin’s ‘Survival of the Fittest’ meets the irresponsible Homo sapien

by Dr. Carin Bondar in Dr. Carin Bondar - Biologist With a Twist

Biological fitness includes a measure of both survival and reproductive ability – one is not nearly as important without the other.  So what happens if the ‘unfit’ members of a population are suddenly the ones with all of the reproductive power?
This kind of absurdity can only happen when nature gets  a little ‘help’ from humankind.
Eutrophication [...]... Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 07:48 PM
  • 764 views

My Dissertation in Under 7 Minutes

by jebyrnes in I'm a chordata, urochordata!


I recently attended the DISCCRS symposium for recent PhDs of a wide variety of disciplines whose work (past or present) deals with climate change. The week-long meeting was phenomenal, seeding me with thoughts, ideas, and basically making me feel quite good about the work I’m doing (if also very pessimistic about how society is [...]... Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 06:12 PM
  • 1,352 views

The ‘Eye’ of the Vent Shrimp

by Kevin Zelnio in Deep Sea News

*Not to be confused with the hit song by Survivor.
The vent shrimp Rimicaris exoculata (literally the Rift-shrimp deprived of eyes) swarms hydrothermal chimneys, with temperatures reaching over 350 C, en masse in the darkness of the deep sea. It has a certain peculiarity in that its eyes are completely absent yet there is a high [...]... Read more »

Chamberlain, S. (2000) Vision in hydrothermal vent shrimp. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 355(1401), 1151-1154. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2000.0657  

  • April 1, 2010
  • 06:01 PM
  • 1,331 views

How do researchers perceive peer review?

by Janet D. Stemwedel in Adventures in Ethics and Science (Sb)

You don't have to look far to find mutterings about the peer review system, especially about the ways in which anonymous reviewers might hold up your paper or harm your career. On the other hand, there are plenty of champions of the status quo who argue that anonymous peer review is the essential mechanism by which reports of scientific findings are certified as scientific knowledge.

So how do scientists feel about anonymous peer review? A 2008 paper in Science and Engineering Ethics by David........ Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 05:30 PM
  • 1,107 views

Short snorts: Norovirus mutation and evolution

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space







Norovirus (from J Virol. 82:2079-2088 (2008))



P.G. Wodehouse described his “Blandings Castle” short stories as “the short snorts between the solid orgies”. I usually go for at least one of the solid orgies per week,1 but it’s spring break and I’m hanging out with my kids for the next while.2  So this week and likely next, [...]... Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 05:02 PM
  • 956 views

All trout are fish but not all fish deserve legal counsel

by Lorimer Moseley in BodyInMind


In an intriguing political story, it seems that Switzerland is on the verge of voting in legal representation for all victim animals. A key consideration is whether a fish, for example, is a sentient being. Well, I think that is interesting, but I write this because it reminds me of something a mate of mine [...]... Read more »

Edwards SC, & Pratt SC. (2009) Rationality in collective decision-making by ant colonies. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 276(1673), 3655-61. PMID: 19625319  

Williams, N. (2009) Collective rationality. Current Biology, 19(15). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.07.045  

Tero A, Takagi S, Saigusa T, Ito K, Bebber DP, Fricker MD, Yumiki K, Kobayashi R, & Nakagaki T. (2010) Rules for biologically inspired adaptive network design. Science (New York, N.Y.), 327(5964), 439-42. PMID: 20093467  

  • April 1, 2010
  • 12:12 PM
  • 778 views

Cultural Variation and Social Networks

by Sean Roberts in The Adventures of Auck

The amount of linguistic variance in a country is predicted by network statistics of Twitter.... Read more »

Kirby S, Dowman M, & Griffiths TL. (2007) Innateness and culture in the evolution of language. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(12), 5241-5. PMID: 17360393  

  • April 1, 2010
  • 12:00 PM
  • 565 views

Response to Musical Rhythm is an Inherent Ability

by Michael Long in Phased

Marcel Zentner and Tuomas Eerola (University of York, United Kingdom, and University of Jyvaskyla, Finland) have found that preverbal human infants move in response to musical rhythm, with no prior training and no prompting, suggesting that this ability is present from birth. This news feature was written on April 1, 2010.... Read more »

Zentner, M., & Eerola, T. (2010) Rhythmic engagement with music in infancy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(13), 5768-5773. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1000121107  

  • April 1, 2010
  • 11:35 AM
  • 954 views

Fire ant decapitating flies take hold in Florida, one head at a time

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

It’s been roughly 80 years since the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) arrived from South America to Mobile, Alabama in soil used as ballast to weigh down boats. Needless to say, fire ants have adapted well in southern states like Texas, Louisiana and Florida, disrupting native wildlife and plants and causing problems for people ranging from shorting out street lights to stinging limbs.

But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, scientists brought over several strains of parasitoid........ Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 11:25 AM
  • 1,584 views

Junk Food Tax or Health Food Subsidy - Which Results in Healthier Food Purchases?

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

In the past few years several prominent researchers have argued for the adoption of taxes on junk food as a means of reducing their consumption. Often, as in a recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, the argument is made that money collected through the tax could then be used to subsidize healthier foods. This is an idea that I've found very appealing - we make the bad foods more expensive, the good foods less expensive, and people will probably shift at least some of their p........ Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 11:15 AM
  • 1,577 views

Demonstrating synergy between functional groups: Burrowing mammals and megaherbivores

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

Davidson et al. published another study a few weeks ago in Ecology further exploring the relationships between black-tailed prairie dogs and their much maligned neighbors, Bos taurus, cattle. Prairie dogs have been generally regarded as a danger to cattle by ranchers and removed through poisoning or other means. Overgrazing can lead to desertification, further threatening these animals. But that's a relatively new trend in a long and complex history of interaction between prairie dogs and m........ Read more »

Davidson, A., Ponce, E., Lightfoot, D., Fredrickson, E., Brown, J., Cruzado, J., Brantley, S., Sierra, R., List, R., Toledo, D.... (2010) RAPID RESPONSE OF A GRASSLAND ECOSYSTEM TO AN EXPERIMENTAL MANIPULATION OF A KEYSTONE RODENT AND DOMESTIC LIVESTOCK. Ecology, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1890/09-1277  

  • April 1, 2010
  • 11:08 AM
  • 1,065 views

Does Domestication Produce Dummies?

by Christie Wilcox in Observations of a Nerd

Domestication is by far man's greatest genetic experiment, and we've been at it for well over 10,000 years. While domestication can produce wild variation (see my post on dogs, for example), a few changes seem to be universal. These include behavioral changes, like reduced fear of humans and friendliness, as well as physiological ones, like floppy ears (they develop in domesticated foxes, too). One of the most well-documented differences between domesticated animals and their wild counterparts i........ Read more »

UDELL, M., DOREY, N., & WYNNE, C. (2008) Wolves outperform dogs in following human social cues. Animal Behaviour, 76(6), 1767-1773. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2008.07.028  

Healy, S., & Rowe, C. (2007) A critique of comparative studies of brain size. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 274(1609), 453-464. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2006.3748  

  • April 1, 2010
  • 10:27 AM
  • 1,865 views

Fossil teeth tell of ancient ape diets

by Laelaps in Laelaps



The partial faces of Anoiapithecus (left), Pierolapithecus (center), and Dryopithecus (right). (Images not to scale)




Our species is just one branch of a withering part of the evolutionary tree, the great apes. Along with the handful of species of chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, we are all that is left of the hominids, and considering the threats our close relatives face we could very soon be the only great apes left. It has not always been this way. During the swath of prehistory ~2........ Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 09:59 AM
  • 1,443 views

Publish or Perish: A Brief Review of Unsuccessful Attempts to Treat Writer's Block

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

tags: writer's block, psychology, abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, writing, publishing, career, publish or perish, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, peer-reviewed paper, journal club




Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 09:26 AM
  • 876 views

Ancient “Swedes” were “lactose intolerant”

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

My recent focus on the lack of genetic continuity between hunter-gatherer and farming populations genetically and culturally is primarily due to the fact that we’re not in theory-land; the extraction of ancient DNA samples is steady-as-it-goes and is sharpening and overturning our understanding of the past. The relationship between culture and genetics is of [...]... Read more »

Helena Malmstrom, Anna Linderholm, Kerstin Liden, Jan Stora, Petra Molnar, Gunilla Holmlund, Mattias Jakobsson, & Anders Gotherstrom. (2010) High frequency of lactose intolerance in a prehistoric hunter-gatherer population in northern Europe. BMC Evolutionary Biology . info:/10.1186/1471-2148-10-89

  • April 1, 2010
  • 08:01 AM
  • 971 views

Restoration is germplasm use too

by Jeremy in Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog

It is well known that plant populations do best when they grow close to where they originally came from. A myriad reciprocal transplant experiments going back decades attests to the power of local adaptation. But how close is close? The question is of very real practical importance if you’re trying to restore a habitat. By [...]... Read more »

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