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.


Whose insect cabinet is on display at the AMNH?

Monday, November 30th, 2009 | History of Science, Personalities | 5 Comments
© D. Finnin/AMNH

© D. Finnin/AMNH

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) has currently on display a cabinet with a collection of specimens thought to belong to Alfred Russell Wallace, the great Victorian naturalist considered to be the father of biogeography and co-discover of natural selection. The cabinet currently belongs to a private owner who purchased it from an antique dealer in Arlington, Va. in 1979.

The New York Times has a piece with the story of this find that explains the cabinet’s importance: prior to this discovery, it was thought that the only existing Wallace collection consisted of the fewer specimens housed at the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London. › Continue reading

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A Virus Walks Into a Bar…

Thursday, November 26th, 2009 | Humor, Science | 1 Comment

If you find the next series of jokes funny (I do), try going out for a stroll at the shopping mall or whatever less science-obsessed people normally do. It gets from awkward to real good at about 1:00.


150 years of On the Origin of Species

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009 | History of Science | 2 Comments

On the Origin of Species

This is my copy of Charles Darwin book On the Origin of Species published 150 years ago today. It is the ugliest-looking book I have in my collection. It doesn’t matter. It is the seventeenth printing of a facsimile of the 1859 original edition that Ernst Mayr, the prominent twentieth century evolutionary biologist, first produced in 1964 to provide mass access to a book that “ushered in a new era in our thinking about the nature of man” (p. vii). › Continue reading

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The Snodgrass Tapes

Snodgrass Tapes

Here is a hidden treasure in the web.

Robert E. Snodgrass was an American entomologist who published extensively on arthropod anatomy and evolution during the first half of the twentieth century. He was as knowledgeable about arthropod morphology as he was a superb artist– you can see some of his illustrations decorating the banner of this blog. His name is synonymous with insect morphology: his 1935 textbook on the subject (reedited by Cornell University Press in 1993) is still the main reference for any modern course in entomology.

Snodgrass was a lecturer in the University of Maryland for most of his academic life. In 1960, two years before his death, he gave a series of three lectures that were recorded in audio tape. Fortunately for us Jeffrey W. Shultz, professor of entomology at Maryland, has digitized and made these lectures available through a nicely designed page called The Snodgrass Tapes. › Continue reading


Archetype turns one year old

Thursday, November 19th, 2009 | Administrative, Metablogging | 11 Comments

roberto kellerI have now been keeping this blog for as long as it takes the Earth to makes a full revolution around the Sun. And for some strange cultural reason, this entitles me to reflect about it.

It has been a highly enjoyable experience so far. My readership has grown beyond my modest expectations, currently averaging about 100 visitors a day. I have gotten the most traffic whenever one of the much more popular bloggers direct readers to this site– this has been specially so everytime I get the Myrmecos bump, but there are a few other people to thank.

When I started, I decided that if I could post at least once a week I would be satisfied (so far the case). › Continue reading


Portuguese Evolutionary Biology Meeting- December 21st, 2009

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 | Education, Science | 1 Comment

Since I am in the neighborhood:

VENBElogoWe are please to announce that the 5th Portuguese Evolutionary Biology Meeting will take place at Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada (ISPA) in Lisbon on December 21st 2009. It is being organized by Unidade de Investigação em Eco-etologia and Centro de Biociências do ISPA (Rua Jardim do Tabaco, 34, Lisbon).

The Portuguese Evolutionary Biology Meetings aim to bring together Portuguese researchers and to promote Evolutionary Biology in Portugal. They are held in late December to allow researchers in foreign institutions to attend, given that many spend their Winter break in Portugal.

› Continue reading


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