Biology

Category archives for Biology

Snorkeling, Eels and Sample Bias

I’ve been fishing, swimming and walking the shoreline around my mom’s summer house for almost 30 years, and so I have a pretty good idea of what kinds of fish there are out there. Most of them I have only seen during fishing with nets, so it’s clear that the visible sample of fish species…

Ant Killer

Last summer I battled with wasps: this years it’s ants. Small black ones have underground nests in our yard, and they usually don’t bother us much. But a hot and dry summer recently inspired them to investigate our house, where they found two things they really like: sugar and water. When we returned from a…

The Earth After Us

Jan Zalasiewicz is a geologist active at the University of Leicester. His 2008 book The Earth After Us: What Legacy Will Humans Leave in the Rocks? is an interesting read even though the title does not correspond very well to the contents. Zalasiewicz does answer the question about what legacy humans will leave in the…

Summer temp journalists are here again. Today, Swedish Broadcasting’s radio news ran a really silly piece about invasive species. It made two main points: a new foreign species of plant or animal is discovered every month in Sweden, and some of them are poisonous. It’s basically a case of botanical xenophobia. The journalist also made…

De Profundis

Three cool pieces of science have been retrieved from the depths. In the L’Atalante basin, one of the Mediterranean sea’s deep hypersaline anoxic basins, anoxic metazoans have been discovered. That means multicellular beings like you, Dear Reader, who live without oxygen. They’re loriciferans, Sw. korsettdjur, each less than a millimetre long. Instead of breathing like…

Blackbird Evensong

On Friday the blackbirds opened their concert season. Here’s what I wrote about them four years ago. Oh, still my heart — I just heard the year’s first blackbird serenade! I opened the kitchen window a crack and listened to it while having my evening sandwich and cup of rooibos. I love the blackbird. It…

Scilla siberica

Spring is coming slowly, but it’s finally coming. These squills have been awakened by heat radiating from our house, but still they reach for the sun. In other news, Discover Magazine continues to buy over top Sb bloggers, and I have finally learned the story behind the state of Oklahoma’s weird panhandled outline. Briefly put,…

I’ve written before about a recent whale vertebra that someone had dropped into a lake far from the sea in northern Sweden. This past summer, fishermen trawling off the country’s southern coast caught two old whale bones, and they’ve turned out to belong to a grey whale, a species that’s been extinct in the Atlantic…

I got a great letter from Reggae Roger Wikell, which I publish in translation with the permission of Roger and Mattias Pettersson with the awesome metal hair. For context, note that these two scholar friends of mine are the area’s foremost authorities on Mesolithic sites that have ended up on mountaintops due to post-glacial shoreline…

The Value of Biodiversity

Occasioned by a comment on my recent entry on the movie Avatar and the Gaia hypothesis, here’s a re-run of a blog entry from March 2006. As comments to a recent entry, I’ve had an interesting discussion about environmentalism with a friend. We both agree that biodiversity and ecological systems should be preserved. But we…