Archive for January, 2009

Pre-Darwinian Homology

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 | Theory | Comments Off on Pre-Darwinian Homology

In a recent post Anastasia Thanukos for bringing up the concept of common ancestry into the definition of homology. Their criticism seems a little harsh to me since, as they noted, the paper is aimed at Science teachers and it is therefore written on a “text-book” tone. This issue aside, however, I find their complain somewhat out of touch. › Continue reading


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Homology Weekly: Dentiform Clypeal Setae

Friday, January 16th, 2009 | Ants, Homology Weekly, Morphology | 7 Comments
Anterior part of the head of an Australian <em>Onychomyrmex doddi</em> worker (Scanning Electron Micrograph, Roberto Keller/AMNH)

Anterior part of the head of an Australian Onychomyrmex doddi worker (Scanning Electron Micrograph, Roberto Keller/AMNH)

Among the many interesting features found in members of the subfamily Amblyoponinae is the presence of unique teeth-like structures at the anterior margin of the ant’s cranium. They are arranged in one or two parallel rows, right above the opening of the oral cavity, in a plate called clypeus. › Continue reading

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Read–write culture

Thursday, January 15th, 2009 | Publishing, Science, Web | Comments Off on Read–write culture

The Books and Arts section in this week’s Nature has a review of the new book by Lawrence Lessig called Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. Lessig is founder of Creative Commons, from which Science Commons recently spawned (see my earlier post). › Continue reading

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C’est très Fourmidable

Sunday, January 11th, 2009 | Ants, Databases, Molecular | 1 Comment


Us working with ants just love to have plenty of databases and digital content available at a click of a button to assist in our malevolent plan to turn these vicious little creatures against humanity.

From Laurent Keller’s laboratory in Switzerland now comes Fourmidable, a web-accessible database for all things related to ant genomics. › Continue reading

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Homology Weekly: Sensillae Trichoidea

Thursday, January 8th, 2009 | Ants, Homology Weekly, Morphology | Comments Off on Homology Weekly: Sensillae Trichoidea

Detail of the right antennal apex of a Dorylus helvolus worker (Scanning Electron Micrograph, Roberto Keller/AMNH)

Detail of the antennal apex of a Dorylus helvolus worker (Scanning Electron Micrograph, Roberto Keller/AMNH)

This image shows the surface of the tip of the antenna in the African driver ant Dorylus helvolus. The tongue-shaped structures are one of the many types of hair-like sensory organs called sensillae trichoidea (Latin for, well, hair-like sensory organs). These organs are basically composed of a central piece of cuticle in the shape of a long filament or short paddle inserted into a socket and kept in place by a membranous ring. The central piece, thus, can freely move in all direction allowed by the socket. › Continue reading

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Ant country

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009 | Ants, Popular Culture | 4 Comments
Central square, Oaxaca City, Mexico.

Central square, Oaxaca City, Mexico.

I just returned from a trip to Mexico where I visited family and friends (thus the absence of posts on previous weeks). While driving through Mexico City, or rather, while I was stuck in traffic for hours, I was reminded of an ubiquitous element of the country’s urban landscape: the trunk of each and every tree and shrub in parks, along streets and avenues, is painted white for at least a meter high from the ground. › Continue reading

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And as we discussed last semester, the Army Ants will leave nothing but your bones.
- Tom Waits