My International Readers

There is a post over at Pharyngula comparing international readership on liberal vs. conservative blogs . Here are my stats. I’m happy to note that 44% of my visitors came from overseas.

56 56.57% United States United States
7 7.07% United Kingdom United Kingdom
6 6.06% Denmark Denmark
6 6.06% Canada Canada
4 4.04% Ireland Ireland
4 4.04% Australia Australia
4 4.04% Netherlands Netherlands
4 4.04% Czech Republic Czech Republic
2 2.02% Taiwan Taiwan
2 2.02% India India
1 1.01% Sweden Sweden
1 1.01% Switzerland Switzerland
1 1.01% Puerto Rico Puerto Rico
1 1.01% Germany Germany

You Know You Have Been Reading Too Much Biology When…

You know you have been reading too much biology when everytime you get an idea for a post you discoverPZ Meyers has already written a post on the same topic! I started on mine yesterday, got lazy and decided to turn it into a two parter – that’s what I get for procrastination! The sad thing is, I have been reading a lot of anthropology lately (I’m currently reading L.S.B. Leakey’s “By the Evidence”)but for some reason I keep posting on biological topics. As soon as I get over being befuddled by it, I’ll finish that post becuase I’m actually going somewhere slightly different with it. In the meantime I think I’ll try to forget about biology by immersing myself in Walker and Leakey’s “The Nariokotome Homo Erectus Skeleton” I’d like to see a post on that over at Pharyngula!

Prehistoric Settlements Discovered in Greece

The above is a map of the area around Ptolemaida Greece. It’s about 330 miles northwest of Athens and is home to some interesting archaeological finds. According to a story on MSNBC two neolithic sites, dating to some 5,000-6,000 years ago, have been found. The two sites join approximately 25 others found in the area:

The first site, located on a plot earmarked for coal mining by Greece’s Public Power Corporation, yielded five human burials, as well as artifacts including clay figurines of humans and animals, sealstones, pottery and stone tools.

The second site dates to around the same time period and seems to be a stone tool workshop.

Intelligent Design and the Need for Jesus

Dembski says:

God, as understood by the world’s great monotheistic faiths, is an infinite personal transcendent creator. The designer responsible for biological complexity, by contrast, need only be a being capable of arranging finite material objects to display certain patterns. Accordingly, this designer need not even be infinite. Likewise, that designer need not be personal or transcendent (cf. the “designer” in Stoic philosophy).

That being the case, would that mean we are not created in gods image and that Jesus didn’t die for our sins? Wouldn’t that mean the bible was fallible. SHouldn’t we then worship the non-infinite, non-transcendent material arranger? I’d really like to see Dembski discuss the theological implications for christianity behind that statement!

Platynereis dumerlii, Acropora millepora and the Human Genome

Platynereis dumerliiPlatynereis

Acropora millepora

It all started several years ago. Scientist were trying to decide the relationships between vertebrates, arthropods and nematodes. There were two competing theories. The first is based on the fact that the nemetodes lack a true body cavity, rather they have a false coelom sandwiched between endoderm and mesoderm tissue layers.

Coelemates, on the other hand, have a true body cavity.
The Coelemates are divided into deuterostomes (which includes vertbrates) and protostomes (based on whether the blastophore develops into the anus or the mouth respectively).

The second, based on small subunit ribosomal RNA analysis, revamps this placing acoelemates (lacking a coelom) and pseudocoelomates (such as nematodes) in a clade with protostomes. More specifically, they placed nematodes in a clade with arthropods. This clade is defined based on the fact that they moult. Both phylogenies are pictured below.

Coelom vs Ecdsozoa Phylogeny

This is where things get really interesting. There have been a number of studies designed to settle the question. During the course of the research some interesting, and unexpected phenomena came to light. In the meantime, researchers studying primates discovered theat the rate of molecular evolution in humans and apes was slower than the rate of molecular evolution in monkeys….

Look for Part Two tomorrow (hopefully).

Frankenstein Has Tea

I had someone land at my site by doing a Google image search on “Karloff, Tea, Cigarette”. Since I had mentioned on my Halloween post that this was one of my favorite pics, here it is:

The picture was taken on the set of Frankenstein during a break in filming. Note Boris Karloff is holding a tea cup in his right hand and Colin Clive has a cigarette in his mouth and is in the process of striking a match. The juxiposition of the image of Frankenstein (brutal, mindless murderer – or at least he is often portrayed that way) with the tea cup is priceless.

Venom, Snakes and a Slapdown

As I mentioned in a previous post. Snake taxonomy has recently been completely revamped based on research on the evolution of snake venom. Zimmer has an interesting post on the subject. The Panda’s Thumb has a post as well. Note comments 60039, 60220, and 60221. Note also the very diplomatic, but total, slapdown of those comments in 60050, 60089, and 60247. Classic! The moral of the exchange is that one should do ones research before trying to criticize.
There is also a thread on the same subject here. One intersting note concerning fossil snakes. This and this provide some interesting info on snake evolution.