Category Archives: biology

The world’s oldest living organisms

Today’s Fun Biology Facts come from PuffHo, which gives a list (it’s been replicated elsewhere) of the world’s oldest individual organisms (or, in some cases, clones). These come from a book by artist Rachel Sussman to be published by the University of Chicago Press on April 14: The Oldest Living Things in the World. (the spruce […]

There’s a bacterium on a diatom on an amphipod on a . . . you know the rest

From the Smithsonian website: Once you’ve picked your jaw from the floor, here’s what you’re looking at: the final stop of this zoom, which spans multiple orders of magnitude, is a little bacterium. That bacterium is resting on a diatom, a class of algae that are known for their silica shells. The diatom is, in […]

Epigenetics smackdown at the Guardian

Well, since the tussle about epigenetics involves Brits, they’re really too polite to engage in a “smackdown.” Let’s just call it a “kerfuffle.” Nevertheless, two scientists have an enlightening 25-minute discussion about epigenetics at the Guardian‘s weekly science podcast (click the link and listen from 24:30 to 49:10). If you’re science friendly and have an […]

Angier on dragonflies

Natalie Angier has a lovely new post about dragonflies in today’s New York Times: “Nature’s drone: pretty and deadly.” As usual, it’s a felicitious combination of good writing and intriguing science, and there’s a nice video on dragonfly research to accompany it, as well as a new feature: a movie that heads the story and […]

Biologically-themed Google doodle

Today’s Google doodle, a particularly good one, celebrates the birthday,  life and work of Maria Sibylla Merian (2 April 1647 – 13 January 1717). (If you click on the doodle itself—not the one below—you’ll get a Google search for Merian.) Merian, a German who later lived in the Netherlands, was a scientific illustrator who began her career drawing […]

Why we can’t clone a Neanderthal—or any ancient organism

I’m not a huge fan of sci-fi, but one sci-fi movie I have seen is “Jurassic Park.” You’ll remember that the dinosaurs in that park were cloned from dinosaur blood (which contains DNA because reptiles, unlike mammals, have red blood cells with nuclei), and that blood was from the stomachs of mosquitoes that had bitten […]

Wonderful insect photos

Linden Gledhill’s Flickr page contains 32 sets of photographs, half of them devoted to biology or physical phenomena in nature. You could spend hours looking at them, for they include insects, plants, insect eggs, insect parts, fungi, as well as paint splashes, astronomy shots, and travel photographs.  Linden has given me permission to put up […]

BBC creates new YouTube channel on nature shows

This should help alleviate the problem of BBC nature shows not being available in the U.S., or sometimes in the UK.  According to PuffHo: The BBC has launched a YouTube only ‘channel’ which will feature new nature shows unavailable anywhere else. ‘Earth Unplugged’ will host seven new nature programmes a week. BBC Worldwide will not make […]

Why is one sex mimetic rather than the other?

The other day I posted a picture of a weird planthopper that mimicked an ant, but only the male planthoppers. Females weren’t mimics at all.  I also pointed out a similar case, but in the reverse direction: in the African butterfly Papilio dardanus (as in many butterflies), it is the female that’s mimetic and the […]

World’s rarest whale seen for the first time

I’ve gotten this from several readers, so thanks to all. According to The Province and several other sources, a defunct spade-toothed beaked whale and her calf (Mesoplodon traversii) washed up on the shores of New Zealand in 2010 and have just been identified as the world’s rarest whale in a new paper in Current Biology (full […]

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