Unidan here with a team of evolutionary biologists who are collaborating on "Great Adaptations," a children's book about evolution! Ask Us Anything! : science
We’re doing an AMA in /r/science right now, come check us out!
A Brief History of the Origin of Dogs: There are papers coming out all the time on this topic. My aim is not to write a review of all of them, but to give you a brief introduction on what is known about the origin of dogs at this point in time (early March 2014). Dogs did not come from the wolf…
Here is an EXCELLENT review of the topic by my colleague, well worth reading!
Want to help me with a science project? Now you can!
If you help us raise money for this project, you will be intimately involved with every step, from gathering data, to observing animals, to analyzing the results. You’ll even receive a full report when we’re finished, and have the ability to say that you backed a real research project.
With scientific funding at an all time low, we’re trying out crowd-sourced funding as a way to show that people do care about science!
Even if you can’t donate, please reblog this and spread the word, and we will truly, truly appreciate it. Thank you in advance for all your support and great messages that I’ve received so far! :)
Here is a quick listing of just some of the ways we might expect to meet our ends at the leaves of these photosynthetic psychopaths.
Check out an article I wrote on plant defenses on Mental Floss!
Hey guys! Here’s some footage from our most recent crow nestling tagging expedition! Enjoy!
Here’s a video of Hinckley, the Laughing Kookaburra!
Anonymous asked: You are awesome! I love your enthusiasm. (:
Thanks! Always great to hear support!
A biologist has become a Reddit star, thanks to his enthusiasm for fun science facts.
Thanks to Matt Silverman for the very flattering article about yours truly, I am truly humbled!
In fact, I’m the MOST humble!
Here’s an unapologetically vertical video (but seriously, sorry) showing a defensive compound produced by the African Milk Tree (Euphorbia trigona)!
This milky latex is a poison containing skin irritants (various esters) to make itself quite unpalatable to would-be herbivores! The latex can be extremely caustic to eyes, so be careful and always handle with care!
On reddit, a picture similar to this was posted of forest communities in Japan, and many wondered how this pattern could emerge! While the cedars in the picture are invasive in Japan, there is still a very interesting reason for this phenomenon!
One possible reason for this condition is referred to as “edaphic climax.”
If you’re following with classical ecological succession theory, this condition arises when there are two different conditions in a similar area so that two distinct climax communities arise.
Since the ridge has likely differing soil type (e.g. different A-layer depth due to slope, different pH due to hydrological differences from the slope/elevation), one could expect that the communities that dominate these different areas, even though they border one another, to be quite different.
I’ve photographed this type of thing happening in the US as well, it is particularly evident in the early fall when the communities that dominate the top of a slope (i.e. oaks) turn color after those that dominate at the bottom of the slope (i.e. maples).
Here’s an HD video I put together of some footage of my friend’s Red-tailed Hawk, Rusty!
I was recently able to take a visit with a friend to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology! A place full of incredible people and incredible science. While there, I was able to take a peek at their preserved specimen collection.
Here’s a small look at their Extinct, Critically Endangered and Rare bird collection.
The Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was once one of the most abundant species of bird in North America. Traveling in gigantic flocks of over a BILLION birds, these pigeons were a spectacle to behold, described even by famed naturalist John James Audubon himself.
The bird eventually went extinct when overhunting was combined with extreme habitat loss, where suitable breeding sites were no longer available. The large flocks of the birds were so vulnerable to hunters that many could simply point a shotgun to the blackened sky of birds and pull the trigger to net several birds. Some hunts may have yielded a million killed pigeons, many estimate.
The last passenger pigeon died September 1st, 1914.
The Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis) was the only native parakeet to the eastern United States. Once living along riparian forests from New York all the way down through Texas in the US, the parakeet was eventually driven extinct through habitat loss and hunting on agricultural fields.
These skins represent a collection of preserved specimens that now numbers just over 700 remaining in the world.
The last Carolina Parakeet died in captivity on February 21st, 1918.
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) is not yet confirmed to be extinct, though it is critically endangered. This woodpecker is among the largest of the woodpeckers, and is revered for its striking coloration and distinctive appearance.
As the flagship bird for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, exhaustive searches have been made by the lab to turn up evidence of a living specimen, but these have been to little result. Other organizations have even offered a reward for evidence of living birds, but none have surfaced thus far. While attempts to restore habitat to allow the woodpeckers to flourish have been made, recently, Cornell scientists have admitted that there may be no way for the populations to rebound back and that the it is only a matter of time before they are declared officially extinct.
Many ornithologists and conservation biologists have used this woodpecker as an example of why preventative conservation must be employed in order to avoid species loss in the future.
Wow! Thanks to all those who donated money to The Ecology!
I truly appreciate it as it helps me to keep doing what I love: providing moderately interesting factoids to strangers! If you, too, would like to donate to The Ecology, click on the “Donate to Science!” button above!
(For those wondering, the picture above is a photo of a Coquerel’s sifaka (Propithecus coquereli) that I took!)
On Reddit, someone commented:
They’re isopods! So, actually more related to shrimp and lobsters, really.
They have a terrestrial cousin that many people are familiar with: the pillbug or sowbug! Just like those guys, these guys are detritivores, meaning they eat material scavenged from decaying organic matter. Deep sea isopods will eat things like decaying whales while the tiny terrestrial kind will live off of decaying vegetation!