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  • March 11, 2011
  • 06:24 PM
  • 3,091 views

Capsular Polysaccharide and Pneumococcal Disease

by James Byrne in Disease Prone


A paper came out as an ePublication ahead of print this week looking at the capsular polysaccharide of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Want to know how I know? I wrote it :)



Insert stock photo of pneumo. Check.

It seems a little wrong to blog my own paper but in reality more people will read this blog entry than will read the paper itself, and that’s fine. Its relevance is very narrow and the work very preliminary but really it’s the drive behind the work that is important. So lets talk about........ Read more »

  • March 11, 2011
  • 06:23 PM
  • 1,709 views

The Magic of Contagion

by Cris Campbell in Genealogy of Religion

What makes people pay large sums of money for apparently mundane objects such as JFK’s golf clubs ($772,500 at auction) and rocking chair ($453,500)? Although a portion of the price is related to investment value, this cannot account for the exorbitant amounts paid for these items. Something else is at work. According to a study [...]... Read more »

Newman, George, Diesendruck, Gil, and Bloom, Paul. (2011) Celebrity Contagion and the Value of Objects. Journal of Consumer Research. info:/10.1086/658999

Curtis V, & Biran A. (2001) Dirt, Disgust, and Disease: Is Hygiene in Our Genes?. Perspectives in biology and medicine, 44(1), 17-31. PMID: 11253302  

  • March 11, 2011
  • 03:56 PM
  • 1,503 views

Penis Spines, Pearly Papules, and Pope Benedict's Balls

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

The latest stop in the #PDEx tour is being hosted by A Primate of Modern Aspect:A new study in the journal Nature has generated a great deal of titillation this week as Cory McLean and colleagues have revealed a sequence of DNA that promotes these penis spines, a sequence that humans appear to have lost. The genetic mechanism involved has already been explained extremely well by Ed Yong and John Hawks. However, the interpretation of what the loss of this DNA reveals about human evolution is perh........ Read more »

McLean, C., Reno, P., Pollen, A., Bassan, A., Capellini, T., Guenther, C., Indjeian, V., Lim, X., Menke, D., Schaar, B.... (2011) Human-specific loss of regulatory DNA and the evolution of human-specific traits. Nature, 471(7337), 216-219. DOI: 10.1038/nature09774  

  • March 11, 2011
  • 03:56 PM
  • 1,357 views

Penis Spines, Pearly Papules, and Pope Benedict's Balls

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries in Exile

The latest stop in the #PDEx tour is being hosted by A Primate of Modern Aspect:A new study in the journal Nature has generated a great deal of titillation this week as Cory McLean and colleagues have revealed a sequence of DNA that promotes these penis spines, a sequence that humans appear to have lost. The genetic mechanism involved has already been explained extremely well by Ed Yong and John Hawks. However, the interpretation of what the loss of this DNA reveals about human evolution is perh........ Read more »

McLean, C., Reno, P., Pollen, A., Bassan, A., Capellini, T., Guenther, C., Indjeian, V., Lim, X., Menke, D., Schaar, B.... (2011) Human-specific loss of regulatory DNA and the evolution of human-specific traits. Nature, 471(7337), 216-219. DOI: 10.1038/nature09774  

  • March 11, 2011
  • 02:59 PM
  • 1,834 views

Penis Spines, Pearly Papules, and Pope Benedict’s Balls

by zinjanthropus in A Primate of Modern Aspect

The following guest post by Eric Michael Johnson is part of the Primate Diaries in Exile blog tour. You can follow other stops on this tour through his RSS feed or by following him on Twitter. If this is your first time visiting A Primate of Modern Aspect make sure to browse some of the [...]... Read more »

McLean, C., Reno, P., Pollen, A., Bassan, A., Capellini, T., Guenther, C., Indjeian, V., Lim, X., Menke, D., Schaar, B.... (2011) Human-specific loss of regulatory DNA and the evolution of human-specific traits. Nature, 471(7337), 216-219. DOI: 10.1038/nature09774  

  • March 11, 2011
  • 10:13 AM
  • 1,937 views

When Being Dense is Good: Mindfulness, Meditation and Increasing Gray Matter

by Kelly Grooms in Promega Connections

When my my Mother’s sister, Pat, was seven years old, she was in a car-bicycle accident that resulted in some very serious brain trauma. She spent better than a year learning to walk and talk again, and although there were some lasting personality changes, she went on to earn a nursing degree and live an [...]... Read more »

Hölzel BK, Carmody J, Vangel M, Congleton C, Yerramsetti SM, Gard T, & Lazar SW. (2011) Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry research, 191(1), 36-43. PMID: 21071182  

  • March 11, 2011
  • 10:02 AM
  • 2,216 views

Restoring Nedoceratops: Gored by a Horned Rival?

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

What is Nedoceratops? That depends on who you ask. The single known skull could represent a transitional growth stage between Triceratops and Torosaurus head shapes in a single species of dinosaur, or it might be a unique species of horned dinosaur that lived alongside its better-known relatives. The suggestion that Nedoceratops was truly a Triceratops [...]... Read more »

  • March 11, 2011
  • 10:00 AM
  • 851 views

The bacteria in your gut can affect the neurons in your head.

by Brooke N in Smaller Questions

Reviews a recent article about commensal bacteria influencing neural development.... Read more »

Heijtz RD, Wang S, Anuar F, Qian Y, Björkholm B, Samuelsson A, Hibberd ML, Forssberg H, & Pettersson S. (2011) Normal gut microbiota modulates brain development and behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(7), 3047-52. PMID: 21282636  

  • March 11, 2011
  • 09:51 AM
  • 1,434 views

Evolution in action in Harlequin ladybirds

by Africa Gomez in BugBlog

I find invasive species fascinating. Either on their own steam or with a little help from us they have expanded their geographical distribution and, with time, they start forming part of the network of ecological links in each environment. Furthermore, - although they might have a negative impact on the economy and/or native species -  they provide unique natural experiments that allow us to witness evolution in action and to investigate which evolutionary forces are be involved. One such i........ Read more »

Facon B, Hufbauer RA, Tayeh A, Loiseau A, Lombaert E, Vitalis R, Guillemaud T, Lundgren JG, & Estoup A. (2011) Inbreeding Depression Is Purged in the Invasive Insect Harmonia axyridis. Current biology : CB, 21(5), 424-7. PMID: 21333536  

Maderspacher, F. (2011) The benefits of bottlenecks. Current Biology : CB, 21(5). info:/

  • March 11, 2011
  • 09:00 AM
  • 1,456 views

Stop, Hey What’s That Sound?: Chimps Know Social Upheaval When they Hear it.

by Matt Soniak in mattsoniak.com

The “Ooooooohhhh!” a human being cries out when they stub their toe might sound a pretty similar to the “Ooooooohhhh!” they cry out at the end of their mating ritual, but they two calls are different. An important part of human-to-human communication is our ability to extract information from context-specific calls and integrate it with [...]... Read more »

  • March 11, 2011
  • 08:20 AM
  • 1,543 views

The error of genebanks’ ways

by Jeremy in Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog

The Crop Science paper by Mark van de Wouw, Rob van Treurena and Theo van Hintum of the Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands (CGN) probably deserves more than the rather cryptic Nibble we gave it yesterday. It certainly seems to be eliciting some interest in the media. What van de Wouw and friends did [...]... Read more »

  • March 11, 2011
  • 07:33 AM
  • 1,969 views

Viruses, vaccination and the inflammasome. Part 1.

by Connor Bamford in The Rule of 6ix

The inflammasome
Daily, our immune system deals with multiple microbial threats, including viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic pathogens that have evolved to evade our defences. One major obstacle to infection is our 'innate' immune system - the one that doesn't include all our B and T cells; has no memory and is generally pretty fast in acting. This set of barriers is made of anatomical, chemical, molecular and cellular obstacles that must be overcome if a pathogen is to successfully se........ Read more »

  • March 11, 2011
  • 05:30 AM
  • 794 views

The random walk of evolution

by Becky in It Takes 30

One of the reasons that some people have a hard time accepting evolution is that the organisms we can study today are so darn complicated that it’s hard to see how they could have arisen from many small steps.  Take chemotaxis in bacteria, for example.  The motor for movement, the flagellum, has frequently been cited [...]... Read more »

Wei Y, Wang X, Liu J, Nememan I, Singh AH, Weiss H, & Levin BR. (2011) The population dynamics of bacteria in physically structured habitats and the adaptive virtue of random motility. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 21325053  

  • March 11, 2011
  • 03:40 AM
  • 1,267 views

Tears = Turn Off

by Pranab Chatterjee in Scepticemia

How many of us have been reduced to blubbering idiots by the tears of a distressed damsel? I am sure the casualties are too many to put a number. Almost all of us have come across a time when we … Continue reading →... Read more »

Gelstein, S., Yeshurun, Y., Rozenkrantz, L., Shushan, S., Frumin, I., Roth, Y., & Sobel, N. (2011) Human Tears Contain a Chemosignal. Science, 331(6014), 226-230. DOI: 10.1126/science.1198331  

  • March 10, 2011
  • 11:21 PM
  • 1,045 views

The Private Bits of Gregarious Carnivores

by potto in terrible puny rightness

Female spotted hyenas give birth through the tip of a penis-like clitoris. That sounds unpleasant, right? It’s also quite damaging. First-time birth through this “peniform” clitoris is long and difficult and results in the clitoral opening tearing when the relatively large, open-eyed pup (with teeth and claws) is born. Quite often, the first birth through [...]... Read more »

  • March 10, 2011
  • 07:22 PM
  • 3,070 views

Maned Wolf Pee Demystified

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Asking weird questions is an essential part of being a science writer. The sort of stuff that stops dinner conversations cold or makes listeners respond “You really are a nerd, aren’t you?” It’s almost hopeless trying to defend oneself in these situations: “What? Who hasn’t wondered about what happened in the digestive system of Tyrannosaurus?”
The [...]... Read more »

Childs-Sanford, S. (2005) THE CAPTIVE MANED WOLF (Chrysocyon brachyurus): NUTRITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS WITH EMPHASIS ON MANAGEMENT OF CYSTINURIA. Master's Thesis: University of Maryland, College Park, 1-163. info:/

  • March 10, 2011
  • 07:10 PM
  • 1,806 views

COOLING IT AT HYDROTHERMAL VENTS

by Julia Whitty in Deep Blue Home

(High-temperature white smokers emitting liquid carbon dioxide from the Champagne vent in the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. Credit: NOAA, via Wikimedia Commons.)It's possible the first life on Earth evolved at remote "extremophile" ecosystems like deep-sea hydrothermal vents. These otherworldly ecosystems were discovered only in 1977 by a group of marine geologists exploring the Galapagos Rift. From Deep Blue Home:[Hydrothermal vents] form at fissures torn into Earth’s crust by ou........ Read more »

  • March 10, 2011
  • 05:01 PM
  • 1,706 views

Defending Your Territory: Be Smelly, Be Fast

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal



Welcome to the third installment of Animal Territoriality Week. See part 1 here, and part 2 here.

In 1994, a disease called sarcoptic mange swept through Bristol's fox population, severely crippling the population and killing most of the individuals. Professor Stephen Harris of the University of Bristol, who had been studying the movements and territories of those foxes, noticed that as the animals in one territory died, neighboring foxes were able to colonize the vacant areas in 3-4 days. He........ Read more »

Luca Giuggioli, Jonathan R. Potts, & Stephen Harris. (2011) Animal Interactions and the Emergence of Territoriality. PLoS Computational Biology, 7(3). info:/10.1371/ journal.pcbi.1002008

  • March 10, 2011
  • 04:27 PM
  • 2,364 views

The benefits of losing DNA: smoother penises and bigger brains

by Katie Pratt in katiephd.com

“Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.” [Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 1859] What makes us human? As a species, we have colonized our planet like no other. We have asserted our presence through agriculture, industry, and curiosity. We have evolved complex languages and customs. We can fall [...]... Read more »

McLean, C., Reno, P., Pollen, A., Bassan, A., Capellini, T., Guenther, C., Indjeian, V., Lim, X., Menke, D., Schaar, B.... (2011) Human-specific loss of regulatory DNA and the evolution of human-specific traits. Nature, 471(7337), 216-219. DOI: 10.1038/nature09774  

  • March 10, 2011
  • 10:36 AM
  • 2,365 views

Tapeworms, Trematodes and Other Dinosaur Pests

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

In one short section of his book Parasite Rex, science writer Carl Zimmer asked a simple question: “Did tapeworms live in dinosaurs?” There is no reason to think they didn’t. Both the living descendants of dinosaurs (birds) and their crocodylian cousins harbor tapeworms, Zimmer pointed out, and so it isn’t unreasonable to imagine monstrous, prehistoric [...]... Read more »

Wolff, E., Salisbury, S., Horner, J., & Varricchio, D. (2009) Common Avian Infection Plagued the Tyrant Dinosaurs. PLoS ONE, 4(9). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007288  

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