Tangled Bank #110


The Tangled Bank was scheduled to appear on the Blue Collar Scientist this week, but as many of you already know, Jeff was diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma, and obviously he has more important issues to tend. So let’s leap into some science right here right now!

What’s with all the birds?

We’ve got two articles on the recent work by Rabosky and Lovette: Evolution of the Wood Warblers and DNA Reveals Tempo and Chronology of Speciation for Dendroica Warblers. This clade reveals evidence of a rapid burst of speciation events that slowed as they new species filled available niches.

If you want the big picture of bird evolution, it seems the molecular data is causing some major renovations of that branch of the family tree: Early Birds Shake Up Avian Tree of Life. It’s a good thing I don’t know much about avian phylogeny, since it sounds like I’d have to relearn a lot of it.

For a narrower view, here’s an unusual bird: Hybrid Thrush Found in Vermont. It was spotted because it sang a song that was part Bicknell’s Thrush and part Veery, and blood tests confirmed that it really was a hybrid.

Field trip! Follow the Ramblings of a Field Biologist as he follows some nesting Northern Rough-Winged Swallows, as well as anything else that flits before his eyes.

Plants don’t get enough respect

Our sole entry from the vast field of botany is a short one, on La Zucca. I think you’d better go visit this member of the mesoamerican trinity so it doesn’t feel too lonely.

Not enough fish, either

At least we’ve had the recent discovery of a transitional flatfish to stir up some interest in The Mysterious Origin of the Wandering Eye.

Science: you aren’t doing it right

Wait, what, really? Obviously, one place you shouldn’t get your science is from Cereal Box Science — this one begins with an amazingly bad statement straight from a box of Kellog’s Mini-Wheats, which leads into a useful discussion of decent experimental design.

While I think there’s a germ of interesting science in evolutionary psychology, it’s also prone to excesses, and through no fault of its own, is also easily mangled by the media. In Girls gone guilty: Evolutionary psych on sex, we get a criticism of the premises, interpretations, and media abuse of work on women’s attitudes towards sex.

No discussion of the abuses of science would be complete without the Discovery Institute, and their new cause, animal rights. Weird, I know, but it’s somehow all part of the perceived plot by evilutionists to dehumanize humanity, built on the DI’s poor understanding of logic. Check out Animal Rights, Evolution, and Morality: Who’s Afraid of the Slippery Slope?

Learn something!

Here are a couple of catalogs of useful resources: The Best Sites To Introduce Environmental Issues Into The Classroom, and for when your teaching fails, The Best Websites For Learning About Natural Disasters.

So you want to live forever?

This might seem to contradict the lessons of those last links: I would think a great way to start a cataclysmic natural disaster would be to prolong human lives. But then, we are selfish, and I’m sure not planning on disappearing in the near future. Besides, these articles are about Stressor-specific hypersensitivity in the mole rat and Recent progress in yeast aging research. In my immortal future, I want lots of scurrying sausages with teeth, and beer.

Tangled Bank #111 will appear at Giovanna Di Sauro on 6 August — until then, do stop by Blue Collar Scientist and leave Jeff some encouragement.

A slight delay

We were supposed to have a new edition of the Tangled Bank this week, at the Blue Collar Scientist — but has more serious real-life issues with which to contend, so unsurprisingly it has not made it up yet, and I haven’t heard back from my email query. If I don’t hear anything by this afternoon, I’ll put something together myself — no blame to the BCS, of course, and please do give him your support.