Linkdump and run

30 06 2009

So tomorrow, having had recovered from the last few days of furious drinking, running and cleaning, I’ll be making the almost 1000km drive up the Pacific Highway back to Brisbane (in an awesome big red shiny car*).

So here is a quick linkdump to keep you amused – until I get housing, employment and classes fixed posting may become even more irregular than usual. Bear with me, on the positive side, I should be able to amp up the quality of my posts as I will now be (A) student with nothing better to do, (B) be in a better mood than recent months.

*FACT: Red ones go faster

Image credit: explodingdog


Synergy in Nature

12 05 2009

With Our Powers Combined

Snorg Tees

Darwin’s ecological villainy

12 02 2009

Damn Skippy, little kiddies, the truth will out.

It’s Darwin Day. Yes, 200 years ago was the birth of some guy who came up with wrote some book about some theory some other time ago.

I’m not gonna mention evolution much. I do that enough already. Evolution is a unifying theory of biology. Darwin did a bit of work relating to that.

In the interests of not letting objectivity rest in the hands of resoundingly inane kooks, lets see what the forces of good can uncover to tarnish this mere mortal’s image. Remember: Everything you have ever been told is a lie.

Fact: While in Australia, Darwin shot a poor defenceless platypus. Read the rest of this entry »

And the song goes on

11 10 2008

Something I learned doing research with endangered Australian marsupials was that Australia has the worst record on history as far as extinctions of major animal species.

This doesn’t look set to change anytime soon.

At least my Australian European-ness can feel a little less self conscious – it seems its been that way since humans started arriving on this island.

Particularly Tasmania.

Which is still very depressing. Tasmania’s island of an island status means it does have some of the more interesting ecosystem inhabitants. With creatures like the Tasmanian devil not found anywhere else anymore.

Human arrivals to isolated islands – such as Mauritias and New Zealand – has seen severe eco-damage throughout history.

There is also a feature on this research in this month’s Australasian Science.


18 09 2008

I’m all a bit confused about this discovery.

It’s a new species of ant, found in Brazil, so they naturally are going around calling it “the ant from Mars“.

The ant is so strange and un-ant-like they are placing it in a new sub-family of ants. I’m not even sure if I should be actually calling it an ant (It’s a maybe-ant). The maybe-ant sub-family split off very early from other ant families in terms of evolutionary divergence – which has lead people to draw similarities between the situation of monotremes and other mammals. So, it’s also being dubbed the insect platypus. It does not have anything nearly as cool as a five-pronged schlong, poison spurs or even a duck-bill. It just has a shit pair of legs at the back.

That’s right. It’s a cripple. Nature quotes an entomologist as saying the maybe-ant “doesn’t even look like it could walk at all”. It’s also blind. Has a “delicate” mouth. And has pigmentation issues.* It probably hasn’t been discovered before because it has just been wallowing in self-pity for its entire existence.

The closest living relatives of ants are bees and wasps. The maybe-ant doesn’t quite share many characteristics with its other airborne cousins. Much like platypuses don’t really resemble modern day birds or lizards much either. Further examination may however show some similarities.

*Update: I could add that it is spineless too, but I think that’s just rubbing it in.

Platypus and echidna: Beasts among beasts

27 06 2008

Okay, my slow yet triumphant return has meant I’m a little belated to comment on the recent emergence of the platypus genome.

I’m am very happy about the platypus genome. My Honours research was marsupial based, but if I hadn’t gone and retrieved some platypus genome database information (thanks WUST!), I would not have been able to do some exciting three way mammalian comparisons.

The platypus, and monotremes, in general are a source of further framing issues regarding evolution progression. I tried very carefully to avoid this in my thesis by emphasising that Marsupial/Monotremes weren’t primitive and have unique characteristics, while still offering a voyeur’s window in a world between birds and eutherians (the fancy term for placental mammals – whales, mice, and us).

One of these uniquely monotrematic traits was introduced to me by a young lass who worked with me at the resort. Yes, I knew she was an animal fanatic (after this I suspect could be closet furry), but this definitely required Google verification before I believed it. Brace yourself… Read the rest of this entry »