Archive for February, 2010 – February 24th, 1pm (PST)

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 | Cladistics, Education, Science, Theory | Comments Off on – February 24th, 1pm (PST)


Do not forget to tune in to tomorrow’s phyloseminar where Noah Rosenberg will be speaking about consistency properties of species tree inference algorithms under the multispecies coalescent. February 24th at 1pm PST.

You can watch him live from the comfort of your computer, but you may want to take some minutes before the seminar to set up your computer and microwave some popcorn.


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Weightlifting ants

Friday, February 19th, 2010 | Ants, Behavior, Education, Science | 3 Comments
Oecophylla smaragdina

"Oecophylla smaragdina can carry more than 100 times its own body weight while upside down on a smooth surface, thanks to its sticky feet." Image: Thomas Endlein, University of Cambridge via NewScientist

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.

Foot of a Oecophylla smaragdina worker. Pretarsal claws and manubrium in red; arolium in yellow; tarsi in green (Scanning Electron Micrograph, Roberto Keller/AMNH)

(h/t to P. Beldade)

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Corrie S. Moreau interviewed by

Monday, February 8th, 2010 | Ants, Personalities, Science | 3 Comments

Ready to rock.

My colleague Corrie S. Moreau, Assistant Curator at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, got interviewed by in occasion of her highly cited paper in Science published back in 2006.

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Homology weekly: Prognathy

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 | Ants, Comparative Anatomy, Homology Weekly, Morphology | 6 Comments

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).

Hypognathus condition in insects (left image from Wikimedia commons; right drawing modified after Snodgrass 1935)

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