Chimp intelligence is heritable

A natural place to look for alleles of large effect are the otherwise conserved (from mouse through chimp) variants that are different in humans. See The Genetics of Humanness and The Essential Difference. My guess (without checking the paper to see if they report it) is that test-retest correlation for chimps is well below the …

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Vertebrate sexual systems

Awesome figure of the sexual systems used by 2,145 vertebrates species (705 fish, 173 amphibian, 593 non-avian reptilian, 195 avian, 479 mammalian).Similar figures for plants and invertebrates. Tree structure is derived from taxonomy, where each tip represents all species in a single genus. Diploid chromosome number is indicated by the height of the innermost ring. …

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Loligo pealeii (squid) data dump

A few months back, I announced the khmer protocols project, an effort to write down an explicit, open protocol for transcriptome and metagenome assembly. This project was started during the summer of 2013 at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Lab, in collaboration with Joshua Rosenthal. I’d met Josh at the CephSeq meeting the year before, …

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Neanderthals leave their mark on us

Neanderthals shared a common ancestor with humans about 600,000 years ago, and didn’t go extinct until 30,000 years ago.  Scientists have been able to reconstruct most of the Neanderthal genome using fossil fragments, and found that humans must have interbred with them in the past, since some DNA is similar between Neanderthals and modern-day Europeans …

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The sloth’s busy inner life

Three-toed sloths are not just unusual animals for moving so slowly.  Their fur actually contains an entire ecosystem of organisms! Sloths have algae that grow in their fur (specifically, in grooves and channels in their hair) and a species of moth that burrows in its hair (perhaps up to 100 moths on a single sloth!). …

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Challenges of Integrative Research

You can’t blame scientists for doing what they do best.  Integrative research can be a noble goal, but is it feasible? To give you the short answer, yes.  However, it takes a lot more effort than disciplinary research. Integrative research is one of the new buzzwords surrounding science, and it goes by many names: multidisciplinary, …

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Bacteria Aid Social Communication

Twitter may limit humans to 140 characters, but a just-as-brief scent post can convey an encyclopedia of information about the animals that left them. MSU BEACONites Kevin Theis and Kay Holecamp studied multiple groups of male and female spotted and striped hyenas in Kenya and found that “when hyenas leave paste deposits on grass, the …

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Keep Climbing…

It’s great to know you’ll never hit your peak — fitness peak, that is. Bacteria in MSU BEACONite Richard Lenski’s Michigan State University lab are still growing ‘fitter’ even after 58,000 generations — and 25 years! — of living in the same, simple environment. In a recent paper published in Science, Michael Wiser, lead author …

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What is telecoupling?

Where do I fit into this picture?  How can I possibly help to sustain an entire species? That’s just it – you’re never alone in science. Previously, I mentioned the phrase “standing on the shoulders of giants,” but the great thing about science is that I actually get to work with the “giants” of Kirtland’s …

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No Pain, All Gain, Says Mouse

Grasshopper mice aren’t just cute: they EAT scorpions. The painful, potentially deadly stings of  ark scorpions don’t bother them; stings are just par for the course in devouring a meal. In a paper published in Science, MSU BEACONite Ashlee Rowe and colleagues demonstrated that the grasshopper mice are essentially numb to the pain caused by …

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Life was not created

This brochure from The Watchtower was sent to me by a reddit user, who in turn received it from a friend who believes God chose this place for us and directed evolution. You can download it here. Here are a few comments on the section that attempts to refute evolution. Myth 1. Mutations provide the …

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Dear Camp

Took a drive between Chelsea and Lansing yesterday on Rtes. 52 and 36. Saw lots of hunters down by Pinkney. Some were in camo and Jeep Cherokees. One was in feathers and aloft over an open field, looking for field mice, I guess. Friday was the opening of deer season in Michigan, though I’m not …

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Smells Like ‘Preen’ Spirit

Does your sweetheart smell sexy? It might not be only their looks that make them hot… or not. Scent is one of the most basic ways animals exchange information, but many animals are thought to primarily use other modes of communication, like acoustic or visual signals, to indicate their status and quality as a mate. …

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A scary reminder

A post by Kay Holekamp. Photo courtesy of David S Green. I stayed in from afternoon obs yesterday to work on the talks I must give in India next week. At 7 pm, I realized I had been sitting at my computer non-stop since 10am, and that my back was hurting from sitting so long …

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