Life Science

Man’s best…empathizer?

If you own a dog you may agree that it seems as if they understand our feelings. While some may call this anthropomorphizing, you know ascribing human emotions to animals, new research may vindicate the feelings of many pet owners. A study recently published in Royal Society Open Science provides evidence to suggest that dogs can mimic the emotional state…

According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, folate (which includes folates from food and folic acid supplements) is important for amino acid metabolism and methylation reactions in the body. Anyone who has had a baby knows that folic acid is an important nutrient to prevent the birth defect spina bifida. Folate and vitamin…

Japan and the awesome Christmas miracle

Toyama Bay got a visit from a mythological being, all dressed in red, on Christmas day. It was beautiful. It seems to be Architeuthis dux, and is about 4 meters long. It just cruised in, ambled about, and the authorities plan to just let it swim away. If it can — giant squid on the…

Spider gastrulation

It’s my first completely free day of Christmas break! Grades are all submitted, nothing is hanging over my head, but I still got up at 5:30am and needed to do something, so I learned about spider gastrulation. This was a disgraceful gap in my knowledge — I’ve worked on insects and on vertebrates, and am…

Polar bears vs Grizzly bears

I read an interesting article in the Alaska Dispatch News which examined interactions between arctic grizzly bears and polar bears. They found that although polar bears are larger, they tend to leave food sources when grizzly bears are around. This may be because polar bears typically spend a lot of time on sea ice without the need to…

Friday Cephalopod: Big Octo is watching you

Taking a phylogenetic approach to the law

Nick Matzke has just published a very amusing analysis of American anti-evolution efforts. Evolutionary biology has all these tools that allow one to, for instance, assemble trees demonstrating lines of descent for molecular characters, which are ultimately just strings of letters. And what is a law but a string of letters? We can relatively easily…

Imagine a simple hike in a grassy part of South America.  You hear a rattle and feel a quick stab of pain as fangs sink into your leg.  Toxins in the snake venom travel through your blood vessels and penetrate your skin.  If the snake is a South American rattlesnake, Crotalus terrific duressis, one of those toxins will…

Parrot Pharmacists

Researchers from the University of York and the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom observed greater vasa parrots (Coracopsis vasa) using pebbles and date pits to extract a fine calcium powder from seashells that they would then lick off the shell. Their observations were published in Biology Letters. The birds were in essence creating their…

We’ll have to advance the invasion plan. A scout squad of paper nautiluses have been exposed off the coast of California. Several of the scouts bravely tried to wrest the camera from the spy, but failed. We’re going to have to send some muscle to accompany the reconnaissance patrols from now on — all we…