Archive for December, 2009

Ho, Ho, Ho?

Friday, December 25th, 2009 | Ants, Humor | 2 Comments

This is my reply to the nice image by myrmecos.


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Not yet winter break for me

Friday, December 18th, 2009 | Administrative, Comparative Anatomy | Comments Off on Not yet winter break for me

Forget the Friday winter break parties at the workplace, I’m stuck at home preparing slides for a short talk I’ll be giving on Monday. I’m not complaining though. This is the Portuguese meeting on evolutionary biology I mentioned earlier. The odd date (the 21st of December for the past four years) is to accommodate all the nationals pursuing Ph.D.s and postdocs abroad that come home during the holidays.

The meeting is organized by young researches, and this year will be specially interesting because there will be a discussion about creating a national society of evolutionary biologists.

I will be talking about the evolution of mouthparts within ants, covering some fascinating new discoveries that I haven’t share here yet but will blog about some time in the near future. In the mean time, here are a couple of my slides.

Media sources:; Roberto Keller/AMNH.

Media sources:; Roberto Keller/AMNH.

Media sources: Wiki Commons; Alex Wild (; R.E. Snodgrass 1935.

Media sources: Wiki Commons; Alex Wild (; R.E. Snodgrass 1935.

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The Pewter Leprechaun Awards Ceremony

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 | Cladistics, History of Science, Humor | 1 Comment

E. Haeckel

You may not fancy public humiliation of scientific papers (ah come on, who doesn’t?), but the Pewter Leprechaun Awards Ceremony is a fun read. If you want to know what is this all about look here.

You really need to know well your history on systematics and biogeography to fully enjoy the piece, but if you don’t you will do well in putting Google to a good use and run some searches on those names. On a side note, I do think Brazeau’s paper didn’t deserved the nomination, specially among the other contestants.

I hope they do send a pewter leprechaun to the winner (and blog about it).

Phylogenetics through videoconferencing

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 | Cladistics, Education, Theory | 4 Comments

phyloseminar1Last night I attended a talk in Lisbon given by Ward Wheeler at the AMNH in New York City and moderated by Frederick Matsen from his home institution in Berkeley, California. The talk was the second on a series of talks in phylogenetics held via videoconferencing.

The idea behind is to hold regular live online seminars in phylogenetic methodology open to anyone around the globe. This is a challenge given the time zone differences of the possible participants, but it does makes the whole event fun: I watched it after dinner at 9:00pm; the presenter gave it at his 4:00pm; while the moderator was there after lunch at his 1:00pm. I saw at least one person among the audience that watched it from the future after breakfast in New Zealand the next day at 10:00am. › Continue reading

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Leafcutter ant of the genus… Paraponera?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 | Ants, Humor | 11 Comments


Hey look, it’s a picture of a leafcutter ant! And it’s carrying a leaf using its… antennas, that are missing the distal part (wha?). And it has an odd ball-something between the mandibles, and a stick-like thing stuck in the rear foot. And the ant belong to a species not even closely related to true leafcutter ants. It’s, it’s… it’s Photoshop gone wrong. › Continue reading

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Ants are a dominant feature of terrestrial ecosystems

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 | Ants, Humor | Comments Off on Ants are a dominant feature of terrestrial ecosystems

Ants are a dominant feature of terrestrial ecosystems (and variations thereof).

Sigh. Myrmecologists really need to find alternative opening phrases for abstracts, grants and papers. Myself included.


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