Archive for July, 2009

Nominate Archetype for The Open Laboratory 2009

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 | Administrative | 7 Comments

Do you like any particular post(s) from this blog? If so, I will be very grateful if you submit them for consideration to the 2009 edition of the science anthology The Open Laboratory: The Best Writing on Science Blogs by using the form accessible through the link below or the (smaller) one in the right margin.

And if I make it into the final cut due to your submission, you will receive a T-shirt… no, wait, a button… no, hmm… well I’ll think of something involving tiny ants magnified to huge proportions using an electron gun.


Douglas Yanega joins the ICZN

Sunday, July 19th, 2009 | Nomenclature, Personalities | 3 Comments

waspsThe latest issue of Nature magazine contains a short Q&A session with fellow Cornellian, heh, Douglas Yanega, insect taxonomist at the University of California, Riverside. The occasion is his newly appointment as commissioner for the prestigious International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), the institution who runs the show on all things related to scientific names for animals.

› Continue reading

Tags: ,

Running title: Obligatory why-I’m-not-posting post

Friday, July 17th, 2009 | Administrative | 4 Comments

To draft the apologetic post bloggers should follow the following structure and instructions. You may add further headings if necessary.

1.1. Post overview (Address your readers in a clear and concise way. Maximum 280 characters)

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a slow blogger to start with. I am comfortable with this style of blogging and hope you appreciate the effort I put into my posts. That said, you may have noticed a change from slow to plain sluggish in the past couple of weeks.

1.2. Post explanation (Describe your excuse for not posting. Maximum 380 characters)

I have some large grant application deadlines coming fast my way (that is, as opposed to my manuscript deadlines that are long gone). These are crucial deadlines– success or failure in securing research funding will determine if I keep posting about insect morphology and evolution or if the topic of this blog changes to something like Archetype: insect taxonomy on a budget.

1.3. Relevance of your blog (In detail describe why your readers should keep subscribing to your feed. Maximum 60 characters)

Wha… 60 characters, are you serious! That is not enough to

1.4. Future prospects (Make up a promise in order to incite false hope among your readers. Maximum 220 characters)

I’ll keep posting any interesting things that come by and, as a break for myself, I promise will definitely assemble one regular morphological post with lots of nice images during the next few days. Stay tuned.

[<———— Insert unrelated visual element below this line¬† ———–>]

From Keller, R. A. 2008. A phylogenetic analysis of morphology for the poneromorphs ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Ph.D. thesis, Cornell University.

From Keller, R. A. 2008. A phylogenetic analysis of morphology for the poneromorphs ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Ph.D. thesis, Cornell University.

Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage fight crime

Thursday, July 9th, 2009 | History of Science, Off topic, Personalities | Comments Off on Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage fight crime


If you happen to share my obsession interest for science in the 1800’s you should definitely check out The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, a witty blog-comic created by animator Sydney Padua.

› Continue reading

Tags: , , ,

The Newton of Natural History who never was

Portrait of Richard Owen (Smithsonian Institution's photostream).

Portrait of Richard Owen (Smithsonian Institution's photostream).

I feel a lot of sympathy for Richard Owen. The more I read his work the more so. He is a fascinating dark character, both for the peculiar quality of his scientific oeuvre as well as for his eccentric persona. A true representative of Natural History in the Victorian Era.

History has certainly not be kind to him, foremost because it seems almost impossible to talk about him without reference to Darwin (as I am doing right  now). This is quite understandable given the impact that the publication of On the Origin of Species had on defining the period. Problem is that, with a few notable exceptions1, he is wrongly portrayed as the leading antievolutionist of the time, his contribution to science thus construed as coming from a figure on the loser side of the debate and reduced to opponent of the Darwinians, in a type example of whig history.

I have previously wrote about Owen’s archetype and his clarification of the terms homology and analogy, concepts that form the cornerstone of comparative biology. He was indeed against the Darwinians, not because he rejected species evolution but because he thought natural selection, as an external force, was not a viable mechanism that could account for the pattern of shared structures make evident by comparative anatomy, the Unity of Type2. › Continue reading

  1. For example Rupke, N. 1994. Richard Owen: Victorian Naturalist, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. and Amundson, R. 1998. Typology Reconsidered: Two Doctrines on the History of Evolutionary Biology . Biology and Philosophy. 13, 153-177.
  2. And he was not alone. The view that natural selection is the main process behind evolution took some decades to gain the wide acceptance it has today. Peter Bowler has documented the extend to which naturalists after The Origin held alternative views to natural selection in his book The Non-Darwinian Revolution

Tags: ,

Now (even) in Facebook

Monday, July 6th, 2009 | Administrative | Comments Off on Now (even) in Facebook

facebookLogoBehold the power of social networks! You can now follow Archetype on Facebook.


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