Swiss myrmecologist and pioneer cybertaxonomist, Donat Agosti digitizes a drawer from Auguste Forel ant collection at Geneva.
Télé-Québec, Canada, aired on March 23 a small documentary of the ant research done by the laboratory of Ehab Abouheif, from McGill University. Abouheif lab looks at ant evolution from a still unusual developmental perspective.
It is worth watching, even thought I can’t embed it here, so you will have to watch it on their site (together with the advertisements, of course). And, if you don’t speak French, don’t worry, you’re not alone…
It was at the XIV international meeting of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects in 2002 that the “gang of four” decided to join forces to reconstruct the phylogenetic history of ants using molecular data. Four years later Brady et al. 2006 was published.
Here’s a perfect example of what I like about blogs becoming an integral communication tool for the scientific community and interested folks alike:
- A peer-review paper gets published;
- The media gets hold on the story;
- The blogs react: scientists and general public fill the comments section (in the genuine tone of the internets);
- The authors of the original paper join in the discussion.
Discussion may get heated, comments may get bitter, but the results are always rewarding for all.
NewScientist posted photographs from the competition held by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to showcase images of their latest research. In a single iconic image, the first one shows the weight that an ant is capable of carrying and how strong the suction devices in her feet are.
I have blogged about these adhesive devices in the ant’s feets before (called arolia in leet speak, singular arolium), and the very first image I used back then happens to be from the same ant species in the image above.
(h/t to P. Beldade)
My colleague Corrie S. Moreau, Assistant Curator at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, got interviewed by ScienceWatch.com in occasion of her highly cited paper in Science published back in 2006.
I am going to take advantage of figures I prepared for a talk I gave recently, where I had to explain a diagnostic characteristic of ants during the introduction. As I have mentioned before, ants are peculiar among wasps and bees in that their mouthparts are directed forward, rather than downward, in a condition known as prognathy (pro-, anterior, projecting; -gnathus, jaw).
The articles may have been long, descriptive and rather dull (although important), but boy did they made up for it with crazy typography in the journal’s logo!
Blogging has been at the bottom of my list of priorities as I adjust to my new research institution this month. Add a week away visiting colleagues in Paris [yeah, I'm adding this just for bragging purposes] and you will understand the lack of posts.
In the past couple of days I have been doing some background literature research on the topic of insect walking. What I did not know is how big this field is compared to other topics in entomology. The reason behind this popularity is, unsurprisingly, the fact that the results of such research have a direct technological application: robotics. In particular six legged robots or hexabots (they should be called something like hexapodbots, but I guess the shorter name is cooler).
The 7th International Congress of Hymenopterists will be held this year in Köszeg, Hungary, on June 20th to 26th. This meeting is organized by the International Society of Hymenopterists, which meets every four years to bring together the people doing research on sawflies, wasps, bees and ants around the globe. I’ll say these meetings are generally more heavily oriented towards systematic and ecological type of studies (is there anything else to know about?).
Now, the fact that the registration fee includes ethanol and ethyl acetate (for preserving the locally collected fauna) should tell you something about the level of geekiness of the crown that normally attends these meetings. But, it’s professional geekiness mind you.
You can find more information here (pdf).
- Tom Waits