pharyngula

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April 7, 2016
Solemn greetings, all. Today, as the more reverent among you know, is Paul Nelson Day. Today is the 12th annual feast day of St Nelson, patron saint of obtusity and procrastination, and we honor his contributions to science by…well, by not doing much of anything at all. You could make grandiose…
April 5, 2016
One of the most common dodges used by Intelligent Design creationists is to use a vague definition of their subject so that critics have nothing specific too attack, and also so they can accuse anyone who disagrees with them of using a strawman argument. For example, they claim that organisms…
April 5, 2016
Stephen Hsu thinks super intelligent humans are coming. He thinks this because he's very impressed with genetic engineering (he's a physicist), and believes that the way to make people more intelligent is to adjust their genes, and therefore, more gene tweaking will lead to more intelligent people…
April 4, 2016
Mostly, the killer whales native to Puget Sound are salmon eaters. But there are also transient orca who cruise through the Sound, and their diets may be a bit more adventurous. And then this week the gray whales were passing by, and…uh-oh. Gang fight. It's that time of year. The Great Migration…
April 1, 2016
The Squid Scientists take a photo of their baby animals, and unwittingly reveal what they're actually doing. Look behind the squid -- I know it's hard, why would you want to look past cephalopods? -- and what do you see? That blurry poster in the background? It's a space shuttle launch. And now…
March 28, 2016
I know! It sounds so official and sciencey! It's got "college" in it, which is formal and academic, and "pediatricians", which are a kind of doctor, and you can never go wrong slapping "American" on your brand label. But they are a lie. It’s also because the ACP is not a legitimate medical…
March 28, 2016
This is a Minke Whale, in life. FactZoo Unfortunately, it's going to be a little harder to see them in life. The Japanese whaling fleet has just returned to base with a lot of carcasses that will be destined for cans and pet food. Japan's whaling fleet has returned to base with the carcasses of…
March 28, 2016
The Roaming Ecologist has a few words about lawns. Lawns – those myopically obsessive (and evil) urban, suburban, and increasingly rural monoculture eyesores that displace native ecosystems at a rate between 5,000 and 385,000 acres per day* in favor of sterile, chemically-filled, artificial…
March 25, 2016
The Australian Giant Cuttlefish aggregation is truly one of nature’s great events. Thousands of cuttlefish congregate in the shallow waters around the Spencer gulf in South Australia, to mate and perpetuate the species. The cuttlefish like alien beings, display an array of patterns, textures and…
March 21, 2016
What do rattlesnakes do when they have the urge to punch someone? I'm pretty sure the loser was slinking away at the end.
March 19, 2016
Peter Watts has this short short story about a brain interface technology that allows people to merge their consciousness with other organisms -- and in this one, "Colony Creature", someone experiences what it is like to be an octopus, and is horrified by it. “Those arms.” His Adam’s apple bobbed…
March 19, 2016
Imagine all the poor transhumanists who were born in the 19th century. They would have been fantasizing about all the rapid transformations in their society, and blithely extrapolating forward. Why, in a few years, we'll all have steam boilers surgically implanted in our bellies, and our diet will…
March 18, 2016
Squid Scientists Pffft. Multicellularity is overrated.
March 17, 2016
Robin Loznak This morning, I read a pile of bullshit about Tyson written by an anti-intellectual reverse-snob -- he thinks he should be proud of being so blatantly pro-mystery and anti-science. Neil deGrasse Tyson is, supposedly, an educator and a populariser of science; it’s his job to excite…
March 16, 2016
Now I'm seeing exploding plants everywhere.
March 16, 2016
The Tully Monster has been an enigma for half a century. Now it's been reconstructed on the basis of analysis of 1200 specimens. That thing is weird. It's been extinct since the Carboniferous, though, so we're not going to be catching any nowadays, unfortunately. Note the eyes on stalks; the tubby…
March 14, 2016
A guy finds a hole in his wall, and behind it, a strange leathery brown mass. He pulls it out -- first mistake. He cuts it open -- second mistake. Within… It's a wasp nest stuffed full of dead spiders, each with an egg planted in them. It's just adorable. There are more photos. I was kind and…
March 11, 2016
Last month, Michael Balter published a story in Science about sexual misconduct in anthropology (I also mentioned it). A research assistant reported that Brian Richmond had assaulted her at a conference. In late September 2014, less than 2 months after Richmond had begun at AMNH, he and the…
March 11, 2016
They're adorable! And you could watch them chase down, capture, and bloodily devour guppies! But they're also delicate and demanding, and I sure wouldn't rush to try…and I'm an experienced aquarist. But if you really must, here's a discussion of a standard protocol.
March 9, 2016
So now I'm thinking Mexico. tucson.com
March 8, 2016
The story should begin with the victim. This is Kim Suozzi, 23 years old, and diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer that was going to kill her within a few months. She's doomed and she knows it, so she has gone to Alcor, signed over her life insurance money, and asked to have her head frozen after…
March 7, 2016
metro.co.uk No, you'll never convince me to eat it.
March 4, 2016
A strange new octopod has been discovered deep in the ocean. There's also a video.
March 4, 2016
That paper that cited the Creator for designing the hand has been retracted. The authors say it was a translation error -- that they assumed that "Creator" was synonymous with "nature" in English, and apparently, they weren't aware of the potential for willful misinterpretation of the word "design…
March 2, 2016
Needs more milkweed. DFW Urban Wildlife By the way, my colleague at UMM, Margaret Kuchenreuther, was recently on our local gardening show,Prairie Yard and Garden, to talk about the plants and the monarchs. You can watch it here!
February 29, 2016
Clearly, the best place for the mysterious island lair of a super-villain who likes invertebrates has to be Christmas Island. So cuddly! I wonder if I could swap our cat for one?
February 26, 2016
This is a recently caught specimen of Onykia robusta, the third largest species of squid in the world. Everyone knows the colossal squid and the giant squid, which can get to be about 15 meters long, but the Robust Clubhook squid is #3 at 4 meters. Humboldt State University Marine Laboratory
February 25, 2016
Uh-oh. A television station in the Philippines recently aired a program on human evolution. I don't speak a word of Filipino*, so I can't judge directly, but skimming through it it seemed to show evidence and discuss reasonable dates and was definitely enthusiastically sciencey, so it seemed like a…
February 25, 2016
The Smithsonian is sponsoring a traveling exhibit called Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean To Be Human?, which is going around the country to various libraries. By all accounts, it's an excellent exhibit, and they also promote good education: they offer workshops on human evolution to…
February 24, 2016
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