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  • June 30, 2010
  • 11:06 PM

Octopus Sensory Systems: Part 2

by Mike Mike in Cephalove

In this post, I'll be talking about octopus tactile sensation.  M. J. Wells and J. Z. Young did the classic experimental work on touch discrimination and learning in the octopus, although a bit of recent work has been done on the neurochemical basis of touch learning in the octopus (which I won't get into here.)We'll focus on Tactile Discrimination of Surface Curvature and Shape by the Octopus (1964) by Wells.  This was one of his later papers in a series on tactile learning in the oct........ Read more »

M. J. Wells. (1964) Tactile Discrimination of Surface Curvature and Shape by the Octopus. Journal of Experimental Biology, 433-445. info:/

  • June 30, 2010
  • 09:39 PM

Mythbusting booze: Hair of the dog – hangover cure or excuse for alcoholism?

by Michael Slezak in Good, Bad, and Bogus

This is the second part in a series about the myths and realities of alcohol consumption.
I pray thee let me and my fellow have
A hair of the dog that bit us last night—
And bitten were we both to the brain aright
-  John Heywood
The idea that alcohol may itself be a cure for alcohol hangovers is [...]... Read more »

Jeffrey G. Wiese, MD; Michael G. Shlipak, MD, MPH; and Warren S. Browner, MD, MPH. (2000) The Alcohol Hangover. Annals of Internal Medicine, 152(12), 897-902. info:/

Wiese JG, Shlipak MG, & Browner WS. (2000) The alcohol hangover. Annals of internal medicine, 132(11), 897-902. PMID: 10836917  

  • June 30, 2010
  • 08:38 PM

The Complex Science of Predicting Oil Plumes

by Dr. M in Deep Sea News

Blowouts and the subsequent dispersion of oil and gas  in deep and shallow water differ immensely.  In shallower waters, expelled gas will contribute to the buoyancy of the plume, which quickly rises to the surface. The rising gas bubble plume and the water it traps govern the size and shape of the resultant slick.
When a blowout . . . → Read More: The Complex Science of Predicting Oil Plumes... Read more »

  • June 30, 2010
  • 07:00 PM

This is what it smells like when mice cry

by Iddo Friedberg in Byte Size Biology

A pheromone in the male mouse’s tears causes a sexual response in female mice who smell it. The neural pathway was meticulously mapped in a study published today in Nature. Interestingly, the female mouse actually has to be somewhat in the mood prior to the pheromone secretion for the pheromone to have effect, icing on the [...]... Read more »

Haga, S., Hattori, T., Sato, T., Sato, K., Matsuda, S., Kobayakawa, R., Sakano, H., Yoshihara, Y., Kikusui, T., & Touhara, K. (2010) The male mouse pheromone ESP1 enhances female sexual receptive behaviour through a specific vomeronasal receptor. Nature, 466(7302), 118-122. DOI: 10.1038/nature09142  

  • June 30, 2010
  • 04:54 PM

Field Talk: Uniformity and diversity in the Homogecene era

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

Imagine a small town where everything is uniform—a tiny community of individuals who eat the same meals and pair up with people with similar qualities and traits. The scenery is stripped down: one church, one pub and cookie-cutter houses. Now add in social interactions. Greetings occur but they have few variations; life is routine. And just a few miles over in a town with the same layout, similar individuals are interacting, eating and greeting, in all the same ways.

... Read more »

  • June 30, 2010
  • 04:26 PM

Not-so-whole Exome Sequencing

by Daniel Koboldt in Massgenomics

There is growing interest in applying next-generation sequencing to targeted regions of interest, particularly the “exome” - the set of coding exons in the human genome. A paper in Genome Biology from Matthew Bainbridge and colleagues at Baylor describes solution-phase exome capture and sequencing of a HapMap sample with just 3 GB of data. The [...]... Read more »

Bainbridge MN, Wang M, Burgess DL, Kovar C, Rodesch MJ, D'Ascenzo M, Kitzman J, Wu YQ, Newsham I, Richmond TA.... (2010) Whole exome capture in solution with 3Gbp of data. Genome biology, 11(6). PMID: 20565776  

  • June 30, 2010
  • 01:03 PM

Celebrate diversity: Lesbian lizard sex

by Zen Faulkes in Marmorkrebs

I have a hard time remembering the name Aspidoscelis uniparens, because when it first broke into the limelight, it was Cnemidophorus uniparens. Sort of like how everyone continued calling Prince “Prince” even after he changed his name to a squiggle. If only he’d been known as a squiggle first when he released “Little Red Corvette”...

Regardless of the genus name, I love this lizard. This was probably the first parthenogenetic animal that made an impression on me, when I was an undergr........ Read more »

Crews D, & Fitzgerald KT. (1980) "Sexual" behavior in parthenogenetic lizards (Cnemidophorus). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 77(1), 499-502. PMID: 16592761  

  • June 30, 2010
  • 11:40 AM

Clubs, spurs, spikes and claws on the hands of birds (part I)

by Darren Naish in Tetrapod Zoology

All too few people seem to realise that birds have hands*; it's just that these parts of the body are - normally - mostly obscured from view by the feathers. While the main role of the bird hand is to support remiges (the big wing feathers), less well known is that many birds possess claws, spurs, spikes and knobs on their hands and wrists that they use in offence or defence [avian hand skeletons below will be identified and discussed in part II].

Read the rest of this post... | Read the com........ Read more »

Rand, A. L. (1954) On the spurs on birds' wings. The Wilson Bulletin, 127-134. info:/

  • June 30, 2010
  • 11:31 AM

Deceitful Male Topi Raise False Alarms to Keep Females Nearby

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Out on the grassy plains of Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve, a group of six female topi antelope (Damaliscus lunatus) walk across the savanna. It is the time of the annual rut - a one and a half month period in which most males control small patches of land and try to attract adult females which, for one day, are in estrus. The small group walks by one of the lone males, but just as they reach the edge of his territory he snorts an alarm. It means that somewhere, out ahead of them, a preda........ Read more »

  • June 30, 2010
  • 11:15 AM

Distressed Ravens Show That Consolation Is For The Birds, Too

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

Humans have long tried to separate themselves from other animals on the basis of characters that are perceived to be unique to us, such as tool design and use, planning for the future and our capacity for empathy.... Read more »

  • June 30, 2010
  • 10:37 AM

Sauropod Dinosaurs Used the Earth’s Heat to Warm Their Nests

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Even though they grew to be some of the largest animals ever to walk the earth, sauropod dinosaurs started off small. From numerous nesting sites found all over the world it appears that gravid female sauropods, rather than putting all their effort into laying a few enormous eggs, created large nests of numerous, relatively small [...]... Read more »

Gerald Grellet-Tinner . (2010) A new Argentinean nesting site showing neosauropod dinosaur reproduction in a Cretaceous hydrothermal environment. Nature Communications, 1-8. info:/10.1038/ncomms1031

  • June 30, 2010
  • 09:42 AM

The Reality of Crime Scene Investigation. Part II: The CSI Effect in the Courtroom

by Terri Sundquist in Promega Connections

In a recent paper, Evan Durnal from the Criminal Justice Department at the University of Central Missouri listed common myths that are created and perpetuated by crime scene investigation (CSI) television shows and summarized the effects of these shows on the judicial system (1). In part I of this two-part blog entry, I presented Durnal’s [...]... Read more »

  • June 30, 2010
  • 09:00 AM

Jumping Genes, Taking Names

by Brit Trogen in Science in Seconds


Everyone wants to stand out in the crowd. And thanks to new findings independently reported by three labs in this week’s Cell, we all might be a lot more unique than we thought.

The identity-inducing culprit? Everyone’s favorite jumping genes: transposons. Yes, the genes that just can’t sit still—the same ones Barbara McClintock owes a large part of her fame to—are making a comeback in a major way. Because what self-respecting gene wants to wait for that lumberi........ Read more »

Iskow, R., McCabe, M., Mills, R., Torene, S., Pittard, W., Neuwald, A., Van Meir, E., Vertino, P., & Devine, S. (2010) Natural Mutagenesis of Human Genomes by Endogenous Retrotransposons. Cell, 141(7), 1253-1261. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.05.020  

Beck, C., Collier, P., Macfarlane, C., Malig, M., Kidd, J., Eichler, E., Badge, R., & Moran, J. (2010) LINE-1 Retrotransposition Activity in Human Genomes. Cell, 141(7), 1159-1170. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.05.021  

  • June 29, 2010
  • 08:06 PM

#evol2010 day 4: In which the race is not always to the swift, and giving up on sex isn't a dead end

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

The final day of Evolution 2010 featured a fantastic series of talks in the ASN Young Investigators Symposium, and marked the premiere of the iEvoBio sister conference, which ran concurrently today. Perhaps not surprisingly, the #ievobio tag quickly outran the #evol2010 tag on Twitter.

I'm ending the conference with a final wrap-up audiocast with the crew from Evolution, Development, and Genomics, and then hopefully a quick run before the closing banquet.

.flickr-photo { }.flickr-framewide { ........ Read more »

  • June 29, 2010
  • 04:45 PM

A bull in a bear market: Social media and the scientist “shortage”

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

Joshua Ward thinks scientists have to embrace social media.

Okay. As a blogger, someone on Twitter, and so on, I guess I can’t disagree with that.

But almost didn’t get to that point, because I just about did a spit-take when I read:

In the face of basic scientist shortages in many of the leading fields(...)
Shortage? What shortage? I rarely read about institutions unable to find good people. I read a lot about institutions with bona fide research positions that are swamped by application........ Read more »

  • June 29, 2010
  • 04:26 PM

North Sea Genomes

by Lucas in thoughtomics

If coral reefs are the rain forests of the tropical oceans, kelp forests are the woodlands of the Northern seas. Kelp is one of the algal species that can survive the harsh conditions of the North Sea that I know and love, together with other hardy seaweeds like bladder wrack. All these seaweeds [...]... Read more »

Cock, J., Sterck, L., Rouzé, P., Scornet, D., Allen, A., Amoutzias, G., Anthouard, V., Artiguenave, F., Aury, J., Badger, J.... (2010) The Ectocarpus genome and the independent evolution of multicellularity in brown algae. Nature, 465(7298), 617-621. DOI: 10.1038/nature09016  

  • June 29, 2010
  • 02:19 PM

It’s a small (RNA) world after all

by Iddo Friedberg in Byte Size Biology

The central dogma of molecular biology as formulated 57 years ago was simple: DNA is transcribed to mRNA,and  mRNA is translated to proteins. Proteins are the business end of this process. mRNA is only the messenger: its sole function is to deliver information from the template (DNA) to the business end (Protein). It was thought [...]... Read more »

Poliseno, L., Salmena, L., Zhang, J., Carver, B., Haveman, W., & Pandolfi, P. (2010) A coding-independent function of gene and pseudogene mRNAs regulates tumour biology. Nature, 465(7301), 1033-1038. DOI: 10.1038/nature09144  

  • June 29, 2010
  • 01:45 PM

But you started out so well!

by TwoYaks in Gene Flow

What colour is the colour for little girls? Well, if you were raised in a "Western" context, the answer is really simple. It's pink, duh. But if you think about it, there's no reason why pink should be for little girls per se, or why boys have blue. Why can't girls have brown, and boys have tangerine? It's just as logical as pink for girls, blue for boys. And I like the colour tangerine. And the ... Read more »

Frassanito, P., & Pettorini, B. (2008) Pink and blue: the color of gender. Child's Nervous System, 24(8), 881-882. DOI: 10.1007/s00381-007-0559-3  

  • June 29, 2010
  • 01:35 PM

A mushroom on the cover

by stajich in The Hyphal Tip

I’ll indulge a bit here to happily to point to the cover of this week’s PNAS with an image of Coprinopsis cinerea mushrooms fruiting referring to our article on the genome sequence of this important model fungus.  You should also enjoy the commentary article from John Taylor and Chris Ellison that provides a summary of some [...]... Read more »

Stajich, J., Wilke, S., Ahren, D., Au, C., Birren, B., Borodovsky, M., Burns, C., Canback, B., Casselton, L., Cheng, C.... (2010) Insights into evolution of multicellular fungi from the assembled chromosomes of the mushroom Coprinopsis cinerea (Coprinus cinereus). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(26), 11889-11894. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1003391107  

  • June 29, 2010
  • 12:49 PM

#evol2010 day 3: In which butterflies self-medicate and Orr conjectures

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

How do you know it's getting to be the end of the Evolution 2010 meetings? Because I didn't get to this until this morning, in the back rows of the SSE symposium on evolutionary prediction. But the third day of the meetings were great, with cool natural history and a great address by SSE president H. Allen Orr.

And don't forget to check out the daily wrap-up audiocast over at Evolution, Development, and Genomics, which was just endorsed by none other than Carl Zimmer.
.flickr-photo { }.flickr-f........ Read more »

Dudley, S., & File, A. (2007) Kin recognition in an annual plant. Biology Letters, 3(4), 435-8. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2007.0232  

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