A nice example of 19th century trade in Polynesia:
The origin of the Tahitian vanilla orchid, whose cured fruit is the source of the rare and highly esteemed gourmet French Polynesian spice, has long eluded botanists. Known by the scientific name Vanilla tahitensis, Tahitian vanilla is found to exist only in cultivation; natural, wild populations [...]
Funner. Impactful. Blowiest. Territorialism. Multifunctionality. Dialoguey. Dancey. Thrifting. Chillaxing. Anonymized. Interestinger. Wackaloon. Updatelette. Noirish. Huger. Domainless. Delegator. Photocentric. Relationshippy. Bestest. Zoomable.
What do all these words have in common? Someone, somewhere, is using them with a disclaimer like “I know it’s not a real word…“
Frans de Waal in PLoS Biology:
The Eurasian magpie (Pica pica) has a poor reputation. As a child, I learned never to leave small shiny objects, such as teaspoons, unattended outdoors as these raucous birds will steal anything they can put their beaks on. This folklore even inspired a Rossini opera, “La gazza ladra” (“The [...]
Everyone’s favorite systematics journal Systematic Biology have produced a collection of T-Shirts that you can buy online (like the awesome one above). This is a fundraising project, and 100% of the profits will go to helping graduate students in the field of systematic biology (like me!).
There are others there that [...]
The Northumberland and Durham Rock Art Pilot project has released a new website cataloguing England’s Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Rock art. There’s some truly beautiful pieces shown there – this is my favorite:
The Daily Mail also has an article on this project.
Green et al in today’s edition of Cell publish a complete mitochondrial genome from a Neandertal:
A complete mitochondrial (mt) genome sequence was reconstructed from a 38,000 year-old Neandertal individual with 8341 mtDNA sequences identified among 4.8 Gb of DNA generated from ∼0.3 g of bone. Analysis of the assembled sequence unequivocally establishes [...]
Joe Queenan in the LA Times tries to justify his hatred of sharks, hyenas and anacondas:
Like most people in this country, I have long hated sharks, largely because of what they did to Robert Shaw in “Jaws.” For years, I thought of sharks as mindless, demonic eating machines, an attitude reinforced by [...]
James Harkin in The Guardian talks about overthrowing the ‘yoke of ethnicity’:
Dingle, for those of you who haven’t been, is a remote but justly admired fishing port in Ireland. In a referendum held earlier today, its residents voted overwhelming to readopt its English name and save it from the imposition of the [...]
Henn et al. in P.N.A.S. present Y-chromosomal evidence of a pastoralist migration through Tanzania to southern Africa (doi):
Although geneticists have extensively debated the mode by which agriculture diffused from the Near East to Europe, they have not directly examined similar agropastoral diffusions in Africa. It is unclear, for example, whether early [...]