Archive for the ‘Biology’ Category

So, I’ve been reading a ton of scientific literature on speciation and patterns of diversity recently for my PhD work. This author keeps popping up all over the place on numerous articles and I can’t seem to quell the laughter every time I see his name.

You will know when you see it.


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Sorry if this picture is too graphic for some, but for me it was just too beautiful and fascinating not to post! I hope most of you can appreciate its beauty and complexity as much as I can 🙂 Full sized shot here.

Also thought I’d share this link which is a gif of a human heart from a donor being kept alive in a mechanical system which keeps it warm, oxygenated, with nutrient enriched blood pumping through.

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There’s a species of small fish from the Amazon called the Splashing Tetra fish, Copella arnoldi, which have an amazing spawning ritual. The males periodically jump from the water up into low hanging foliage to find the right leaves under which they can land on and stick to. They then guard them until a suitable female mate comes along with which to reproduce. They line up at the water surface and propel themselves in perfect synchrony out of the water, into the air, and stick onto the back of the leaf side by side. There they lay several eggs at a time before falling back into the water and repeating the process until they’ve laid and fertilised around 60 or so eggs.

And that’s not all folks… At this point you’re probably having a slight evo-gasm or adapta-spasm like I am, but it gets better. The males apparently stick around for the following few days whilst the eggs develop and periodically splash the leaf, and eggs, with fresh water so they stay moist and oxygenated. After about two days the small fry (yep, that’s where it comes from, baby fish are called ‘fry’) fall to the water that dad has splashed up to them.

Mind blow…!

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Lonesome George died on Sunday, and with him disappears yet another species (well ‘subspecies’ to be correct, but it still matters!!) from the face of the earth. He was the last known individual of his species the Pinta Island tortoise, Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni,

The last known individual of the subspecies was a male named Lonesome George(Spanish: Solitario Jorge)[2], who died on 24 June 2012[3]. In his last years, he was known as the rarest creaturein the world. George served as a potent symbol for conservation efforts in the Galápagos and internationally.[4].

George was found in 1972 on Pinta Island when his subspecies was believed to be extinct. Since then he has been a conservation icon for the Galápagos National Park Service. Unfortunately, repeated efforts to breed Lonesome George with two females from the Espanola tortoise population, species Chelonoidis nigra, had failed. However, he at least had their company until the end.

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Man… I just don’t get how this sort of thing can happen today. Especially not in a relatively developed country.

A petition to remove references to evolution from high-school textbooks claimed victory last month after the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) revealed that many of the publishers would produce revised editions that exclude examples of the evolution of the horse or of avian ancestor Archaeopteryx. The move has alarmed biologists, who say that they were not consulted. – Article

Ironically, I send all of my PCR reactions to the South Korean branch of the DNA sequencing company Macrogen located in Seoul for sequencing…

The campaign was led by the Society for Textbook Revise (STR), which aims to delete the “error” of evolution from textbooks to “correct” students’ views of the world, according to the society’s website. The society says that its members include professors of biology and high-school science teachers.

Who is anyone to personally decide what is or isn’t “error” in the scientific realm, but for the realm of science itself not some group of religious idiots? I’d love to see a list of these ‘professors of biology’ and ‘high-school science teachers’, as well as a list of their IQs.

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Holding a specimen of the now extinct Australian rodent species Leporillus apicalis, the lesser stick-nest rat, in my hands for the first time in the museum’s collection. It was pretty moving… As amazed and lucky as I feel to see it in the flesh, feel it’s claws, fur and whiskers, I feel incredibly sad. To have it that close and that real, and yet know it’s entire species has been removed from this world for ever is a tragedy!

However, I am looking forward to working on these guys, as well as many other currently extant and extinct species of Australian rodents in the future. Hopefully the new sequencing techniques I’ll be implementing in my PhD project will be able to sequence a large portion of even the oldest specimens of extinct species and we can still learn more about them. They may be gone, but they’re not forgotten.

Leporillus apicalis (EX), the Lesser stick-nest rat

Below’s a picture of Leoprillus conditor, the Greater stick-nest rat, which is a sister species to the Lesser stick-nest rat and is still very much alive today thankfully!

Leporillus conditor, the Greater stick-nest rat

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This kingfisher gives no fucks!

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