Archive for May, 2009
I was recently asked if one of my post could be cited as a personal communication (pers. comm.) on an upcoming scientific paper, that is, instead of citing the blog post directly. The authors of the paper foresee (quite rightly I believe) that the journal will not accept the reference to this electronic media, hence the need for the well accepted and common alternative. › Continue reading
When looking at an arthropod from our vertebrate perspective it is easy to forget that we are looking right at the animal’s skeleton. While our own vertebrate skeleton consists of a series of internal compact pieces with sponge-like cores that support an external layer of muscles and entrails (all nicely wrapped in skin), the reverse is true for arthropods. The arthropod skeleton consists of a series of external plates and hollow tubes that form enclosed spaces within which the internal musculature system attaches1. One consequence of this peculiar body architecture is that most of what we see on the outer surface of this exoskeleton is but a reflection of what is going on on the inside– minute external pits correspond to places where the cuticle folds in to form internal pillars, and innocent looking shallow furrows on the surface are large internal walls where powerful muscles originate. A simple examination of the exoskeleton, therefore, can tell us a lot about particular functions and consequently about an insect’s behavior. › Continue reading
- The only enclosed cavity formed by the skeleton in vertebrates is the cranium, but there are no muscles inside it. ↩
In trying to stay afloat up-to-date on the scientific papers in my areas of interest I find that Table of Contents (TOCs) e-mail alerts and RSS feeds offered by the journal publishers are all I need (well, that and a lot of time to read through all those papers, take some notes and sort them out into my nifty digital filing system).
I keep failing those CAPTCHAs on a regular basis. I’m starting to think my parents are hiding something from me.
Just as the anterior margin of an ant’s cranium can sometimes be armed with rows of dentiform clypeal setae (that is, especially modified hairs), the lid that closes the insect’s mouth called labrum can bear identical structures. The image above shows two of these specialized teeth-like pieces (in red) flanking an empty broad socket where a third piece used to be inserted.
Nature editor Henry Gee has an honest post about how is it like to hold such an important job (important for us at the other side of things):
Every now and then I get asked to a lab or seminar to give a talk about what I do as an editor at Nature, apart from lie on my back being fed grapes by flying babies.
I see before me a wall of faces, agog and drooling amazed to discover that Nature editors are almost really human.
GenBank, the standard database for genetic information maintained by National Center for Biotechnology Information, has been accumulating DNA sequences for some three decades now. Since its creation in the late 1980s, it has become the de facto repository for genetic information– genetic data must now be submitted to GenBank for a paper to be accepted for publication. Most sequence data accumulated are the result of the sum of many “local” taxonomic studies that have targeted a particular group of organism for a relatively small, but well-known collection of genes. It contents now span over hundreds of genes across all of life’s domains. So, what would happen if you were to take all the sequence information contained in GenBank and analyze it phylogenetically all together in a single, one-step study? Well, that is what Pablo A. Goloboff and coworkers just did, the results of which were published in last week’s online early edition of Cladistics, the international journal of the Willi Hennig Society.
- Tom Waits