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Category Archive: biology

Mar 11 2013

Paleofantasy: When people act like cavemen because they misunderstand evolution

I’ve been waiting so long for someone to write this book. Salon has a great interview with Marlene Zuk, evolutionary biologist who just wrote “Paleofantasy: What evolution really tells us about sex, diet, and how we live.” The Paleo diet? How evolution surprisingly supports 1950s gender roles? Yeah, those ideas aren’t actually supported by evolution …

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Feb 04 2013

Pokébiology 101: “Evolution” and the enigma of Eevee

BulbasaurEvolution

(Click here for the introductory post to Pokébiology 101) You know I had to start my Pokébiology 101 series with the most famously scientifically inaccurate part of Pokémon: evolution. In the Pokémon world, “evolution” means something different from what you might have learned in your biology classes. …Well, what you should have learned in your biology …

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Jan 27 2013

Welcome to Pokébiology 101

pokeball

Hello there! Welcome to the world of Pokémon! My name is Jen! People call me the Pokémon Grad Student! …Okay, I don’t think anyone has actually called me the Pokémon Grad Student. But I’m a PhD candidate studying evolution and genomics who has been playing Pokémon since its release in 1998. My friend showed me …

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Jan 24 2013

Republican lawmaker wants to criminalize aborting your rape baby because it’s “tampering with evidence”

I’d say it’s a new low for Republicans, but really, it’s their usual low: A Republican lawmaker in New Mexico introduced a bill on Wednesday that would legally require victims of rape to carry their pregnancies to term in order to use the fetus as evidence for a sexual assault trial. House Bill 206, introduced …

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Jan 19 2013

Come see me at Nerd Nite Seattle!

I am living the dream: I’ve been invited to give a talk of extreme geekiness this Monday: Pokébiology 101 There may not be a Pikachu Genome Project, but the unusual biology of the Pokémon Universe can teach us about biology in the real world. How do Pokémon species differ from species here on Earth? What …

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Aug 13 2012

Flickr helps scientists discover a new species

lacewing2

This story on NPR is great. An entomologist was browsing insect photos on Flickr when he saw one he didn’t recognize. After talking to his colleagues, they confirmed that this was probably a new species: A full year later, Winterton received an email from the photographer; Guek had returned to the region of the original …

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Jun 16 2012

Microbiology haikus

Commenter VeritasKnight requested a post full of haikus; Joe McKen asked for them to be microbiology themed. Peptidoglycan damn you, I am positive You blue my cover It was chilling there Before genomes went mainstream The retrovirus S. cerevisiae The brewer, not the screwer Fuck C. albicans Ten percent human The rest, essential strangers Am I …

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Jun 16 2012

Today in traumatizing wildlife videos…

Nature is often weird. But sometimes, it’s REALLY fucking weird. I give you the pearlfish: For those of you who can’t watch the video (though if you can, you really should)… Adult pearlfish are long skinny fish that live in open habitats. In order to not get eaten, they need to find a suitable place …

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Jun 16 2012

My research part 4: How did microRNA convergently evolve?

miRNAbiogenesis

How could microRNA have evolved to have such similar structure and function in plants and animals after evolving independently? You must be thinking, “What are the odds?!” If evolution boiled down to nothing but random chance, the odds seem staggering indeed. No, I’m not about to say God guided evolution. What happens is there are certain traits …

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Jun 16 2012

My research part 3: MicroRNA in plants

Since my research focuses on primates, I don’t exactly work with plant microRNAs. But they’re still fascinating enough that I wanted to touch on them. Plant and animal microRNAs are very similar – they’re approximately 22 nucleotides in length, they’re processed from larger hairpin structures, and they function by downregulating messenger RNA. But they have …

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