Last weekend my wife, one of my daughters, my wife’s parents, and I went over to Alton and Grafton to watch the eagles. We saw quite a few bald eagles and a small smattering of golden eagles. Although I have seen both species on TV any number of times, nothing beats seeing them in the wild. We saw quite a few perched in trees along the bluffs overlooking the river and quite a few more out on the river itself (which was mostly frozen that weekend). The eagle that flew over our car (at a height of about 50 feet) on it’s way to the river was quite impressive (and big – makes this more believable). It was very enjoyable. However, there are some sick bastards out there:
Darwin feared that the subject of his last book – earthworms – would not be of interest to the public (coincidentally, several of his early papers were on worms as well). Despite his fears the the book sold well. As a matter of fact it sold 6,000 copies within a year). Considering Darwin’s interest in the earthworm and that this is the year of Darwin, it is only fitting that the Proceedings of the Royal Society B has a paper on the subject.. The authors describe their paper thus:
In this short review, we propose to adopt the hypothetical (perhaps presumptuous) position of marshalling in a selective manner some of the newly discovered genetic information in the spirit of continuing Darwin’s quest to use features of earthworm biology to further our understanding of global evolutionary processes.
It is interesting so you should check it out.
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I just got home from running a lot of errands and discovered the sad news that Mike Majerus has passed away. Majerus, for those were unacquainted with his work, was an evolutionary biologist who studied insects ladybird beetles, parasitoid wasps, and peppered moths being among the species he was interested in. I knew of him primarily through his work on peppered moths where he repeated many of Kettlewell’s experiments and recently wrote about his paper in Evolution: Education and Outreach.
He will be missed…
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Back on the 17th I wrote about a study that was supposed to appear in BMC Evolutionary Biology. The study concerned the evolution of the MSX1 gene and its role in causing cleft lip and some skin derivative disorders.
Finding Treasure and Losing History is a review of a new show on the Discovery Channel. The review is in Archaeology and has some interesting things to say about the Discovery Channel and the ethics of making a TV show. Here is the first paragraph:
Because, really, it makes their abject capitulation to Republican hissy fits all the sweeter. Seriously, why show a spine and stand up for the principles one believes in? After winning such a convincing electoral victory the best thing to do is suck up and pander to the nut-cases who damn near wrecked the country. Heck of a job Dems! Can I have my vote back? Is it too late to vote for Nader?
According to this item at PhysOrg.Com only 60,000 people have visited the exhibition of Lucy. The Pacific Science Center had expected 250,000 visitors and the museum is facing a half a million dollars in losses and is laying off staff. To add insult to injury the Field Museum in Chicago has withdrawn due to the cost of the exhibit (I was planning on seeing Lucy in Chicago). Although I was against Lucy leaving Ethiopia I did hope she would do well on her tour. Houston, the first stop, was a rousing success. Seattle, however, has dropped the ball. Come on people, get to Seattle and visit Lucy! You will never have the chance again.
As John Lynch points out Explore Evolution has received another bad review. Like the previous review the new review, by Brian Metscher, is less than positive. The review is published in Evolution and Development and does not pull any punches.
National Geographic has an interesting story about how the arrest of a Congo warlord is putting the Gorillas at Virunga National Park:
After a 15-month-long absence, the rangers were able to return in November 2008 after the park’s director, Emmanuel de Merode, struck a deal directly with Nkunda to allow his rangers to resume their work.
It’s unclear how that arrangement–and the protection of the gorillas–will be affected by Nkunda’s arrest.
“We’re being swept around by [political] events right now, but the national park has made a very concerted effort to remain apolitical,” de Merode said Friday from the city of Goma, located outside Virunga.
Afarensis haz not been writin nough bout lemurs, so we haz taken control of blog. Plz do not mak sudden movez or we will be forcd 2 let leopard bite Afarensis skull. We haz important newz about baby crowned Sifaka being born. A picchur iz below. Baby crowned Sifaka haz teh awesome cute!