Forgotten beetle hunters and the foundation of evolutionary theory; Alfred Wallace remembered in puppetry
Jan15

Forgotten beetle hunters and the foundation of evolutionary theory; Alfred Wallace remembered in puppetry

The Animated Life of A.R. Wallace (Director’s Cut) directed and produced by Flora Lichtman & Sharon Shattuck [Sweet Fern Productions].   “So he has this vision: he’s going to walk into a London scientific salon with a Toucan on his arm. He’s not going to be a nobody; he’s going to be a somebody.” ~Andrew Berry, Harvard University. Editor, Infinite Tropics, an Alfred Russel Wallace Anthology. In January of 1858,...

Read More

Ecology branches into the tree of life

An August 2012 supplementary issue of Ecology explores the interface of ecology and phylogenetics. By Liza Lester, ESA communications officer Lebensbaum (Tree of Life): Detail from Gustav Klimt’s 1910/11 drawing for the immense dining room frieze at Stoclet Palace, in Brussels. Watercolor and pencil. Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna. NATURALISTS of the late 19th century tended to holistic interpretations of the...

Read More

Tinkering with worm sex to shed light on evolution

This post contributed by Nadine Lymn, ESA Director of Public Affairs The roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) is a tiny laboratory animal that researchers have worked with for decades.  As a hermaphrodite, C. elegans makes both sperm and eggs and can reproduce by self-fertilization.  In contrast to humans, where hermaphrodites are rare, for C. elegans, this is its normal state.   However, male individuals, with only male...

Read More

Scientists dig up the history of the mole’s extra ‘thumb’

Marcelo Sánchez-Villagra from the University of Zurich and researchers have uncovered the evolutionary history of the mole’s extra “thumb.” As it turns out, this polydactyl animal evolved an elongated wrist bone to serve as a sort of extra finger, widening the paw for more effective tunneling. The researchers examined embryos of the Iberian mole (Talpa occidentalis) and the closely related—but five-fingered—North American least shrew...

Read More

Pollination from the plant’s perspective

If plants had a perspective, they would probably think of pollinators as more than just extra-friendly house guests. That is, plants would be more likely to view pollinators as the mutual friend who likes to set up blind dates. Bees might limit pollen to its use as a protein source for the hive, and birds might devour the flesh of a fruit and eliminate the seed as waste. However, many flowering plants, as Bug Girl pointed out in a...

Read More

The story of the fig and its wasp

Inside the rounded fruit of a fig tree is a maze of flowers. That is, a fig is not actually a fruit; it is an inflorescence—a cluster of many flowers and seeds contained inside a bulbous stem. Because of this unusual arrangement, the seeds—technically the ovaries of the fig—require a specialized pollinator that is adapted to navigate within these confined quarters. Here begins the story of the relationship between figs and fig wasps....

Read More

Panda paradox: Which came first, a taste for bamboo or a distaste for meat?

This post contributed by Monica Kanojia, Administrative Assistant/Governance for ESA While a vegetarian lifestyle is a choice made by omnivorous humans, the panda population may have been forced to convert  to a vegetarian diet between 2 and 7 million years ago to ensure survival. The preference for bamboo is unusual for pandasbecause they are classified as carnivores  even though their diet is 99% bamboo. Even more unusual is the...

Read More

From the Community: December Edition

The following links highlight ecology from the month of December, but there are several science-related end-of-year lists floating around as well. For example, The Guardian released a review of 2010 wildlife photographic awards, Scientific American’s podcast 60-Second Earth highlighted Earth stories in 2010, Ed Yong is posting a series of 2010 research themed articles on his blog Not Exactly Rocket Science—such as a recent post on...

Read More