Pharyngula

Watching carefully, I noticed that two other activities added to the commotion: sloughing of skin and defecation. Like other whales, sperm whales shed skin on a regular basis. This may be a mechanism to reduce the risk of infection and to rid the animals of external parasites. As the whales rubbed against one another, the…

Back around the 11th of July, I saw a few comments by a guy named Myles Power, a science youtuber, who was quite irate that Rebecca Watson criticized evolutionary psychology five years ago. There were the usual vaguely horrified reactions implying how annoying it was that some mere communications major would criticize an established, credible,…

Friday Cephalopod: Babies are so cute

But wouldn’t you know it, it’s an endangered species. If it weren’t for that, I’d happily wear Telipogon diabolicus on my lapel everywhere.

Our HHMI students are going to the Morris Theater tonight to watch Finding Dory (fish are biological, so it fits). You’re all welcome to join us at 7!

Conodontia

Conodonts are strange and extinct animals that left behind lots of fossils: their teeth. Practically nothing else but teeny-tiny, jagged, pointy teeth. I remember when the animals themselves were total mysteries, and no one even knew what phylum they belonged to — it was only in the 1980s that a few eel-like soft tissue fossils…

This is kind of awesome: cephalopods only have one kind of photoreceptor, so it was thought that they would be only able to see the world in shades of gray. Those amazingly clever camouflage tricks they pull? That was just matching intensities and textures, fooling our eyes. But now someone has figured out a way…

Gene activity in the dead

Now you’ve got another paper you can file with that dead salmon fMRI paper: one that analyzes the transcriptome, or excuse me, the thanatotranscriptome, of dead zebrafish and mice. You should not be surprised to learn that when a multicellular organism dies, it’s not as if every single cell is abruptly extinguished: the integrated, functional…

Meanwhile, in Kentucky…

This week, Nature has an article on the reconstruction of global tectonics during the past 200 million years. In Science, we can read about a thorough analysis of a site where a mastodon was butchered by North American hunter-gatherers 14,550 years ago. And of course, the big news, scientists have put a probe in orbit…