Ecology & Zoology

Which do male lizards find sexiest, the more feminine kind or the masculine?

Researchers recently tackled this question by examining the mating behavior and blue-color patterns of fence lizards in Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi and offer some insight into the evolution of male-female differences.


Dengue fever is the most common vector-borne disease in the world, the World Health Organization estimates that 2.5 billion people at risk and that up to 390 million people are infected with the virus each year. There's no medication and no vaccine, so obviously the best solution is to control the insects themselves. Not using dangerous chemicals is even better.

You'd be surprised how many people don't want to save 1 in 18 people every year from this disease, if it violates their sense of First World entitlement. Yet anti-science activists remain against using nature to fight nature.
Bug Dracula

Bug Dracula

Oct 31 2013 | 0 comment(s)

Today is Reformation Day, which until recently (so I have heard) was a national holiday in Germany, but the government decided that the Germans were getting too many holidays, and took it out of the calendar.  It is still, though, a civic holiday in Slovenia, since the Reformation contributed profoundly to their cultural development, although the Slovenes are mainly Roman Catholics.

A new paper says that unpredictability is a consistent trait in the animal world, just like it is humans.


Anyone who owns a cat knows that, right?

Not really. Though animals are known to show consistent individual differences in behavior, and pet owners may refer to it as them displaying 'personality', a new paper refutes prior beliefs and says that some individual animals, just like humans, are consistently more unpredictable than others over time.

Unpredictability is a known and accepted aspect of human behavior much like we've always viewed predictable aspects of personality. However, until now it has never been studied in animals, the authors say.


Humpback dolphin swimming in the waters off northern Australia are a new species   previously unknown to science, according to a team of researchers 

To determine the number of distinct species in the family of humpback dolphins (animals named for a peculiar hump just below the dorsal fin), the research team examined the evolutionary history of this family of marine mammals using both physical features and genetic data.  While the Atlantic humpback dolphin is a recognized species, this work provides the best evidence to date to split the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin into three species, one of which is completely new to science.


Female edible dormice (Glis glis) have a pleasant taste and have long been viewed as a special delicacy. The Romans even kept them in captivity to fatten them up for eating, which explains the "edible" part of their name. 

The reason is because after summer ends, and they are done caring for their young, they start to replenish their fat stores to cope with the upcoming winter. Later in the year, when outside temperatures drop, dormice move to their hibernation quarters where they will spend months without food. During hibernation, dormice enter phases of 'torpor': they drastically reduce their metabolic rate and lower their body temperature to that of the surrounding environment.


These days, when I watch a good working dog hone in on scent — whether it’s a dog locating the scent of human remains or trailing someone who is still alive — I can see him trace its passage in the air until he’s drawn a clear picture with his nose. An experienced dog can distinguish the difference between scent that has lifted in the heat of the day, settled down in the ridges of rough grass, or been pulled hard toward the rushing water of a creek.

I work scent also, though I don’t run as fast or as hard. I can recog­nize urine in the muggy concrete stairwell of a parking garage, mildew liberated from under sheaves of rotted leaves, or the fishy musk of my German shepherd after a swim in the local river in August.

Resident European shrimps may be beating back invaders from America, which means Europe has fared better on this battlefront than it has against the Californian grey squirrel and American crayfish. 

The researchers mapped the occurrence of the interloper and found it only existed where native shrimps were absent or rare. When native shrimps were common, the American shrimp simply could not establish and it disappeared. 


In case you missed the memo (HOW COULD YOU), we're in the middle of International Cephalopod Awareness Days. Over the years the celebration has grown to encompass five full days of merriment (you can follow the joy on facebook) and I'm pretty sure we'll end by taking the whole of October. It's the 10th month but still contains the number 8 in its name, making it naturally welcoming to a taxonomic group composed primarily of octopods and decapods.
I've often argued that California's biggest industry is hypocrisy - not just talking about freedom and liberalism while banning conduct elites happen not to like this year or reconfiguring voting districts so that there is no political opposition but that we claim to care about the environment.

In reality, our dirty secret, that people either don't know or don't want to know but every policy maker is well aware of, is that garbage has been one of our biggest exports. We tax the public a lot to deal with recycling, and then pay companies a lot to handle recycling, and then those companies ship it to China as garbage.