Is the Octopus an Alien? No.

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The California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides) genome was recently sequenced and analyzed (good job science!).

In response some news media outlets seemed to imply that octopuses are alines. As in from outer space. See here, here and here.

However, despite how cool the octopus is, and how interesting it genome is likely to be, it is not, in fact an alien. Just a really REALLY cool cephlapod.

 

 

alien octopusSeriously though, let’s celebrate this cool scientific achievement! And if you want to read more about how the octopus is not an alien, but in fact very much from this planet read about it over at Quarks to Quasers.

One Star YELP reviews… of National Parks

The National Park Service turns 99 years old on Tuesday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!).

To celebrate its awesome, an article over at Mother Jones points out those who might not be as enthusiastic about our national treasures. For example: Yelp is filled with one- and two-star reviews of America’s most pristine and majestic natural wonders.

And I CAN NOT STOP READING THEM. I would like to join the author in thanking those individuals who dislike the great outdoors for leaving the campgrounds a little bit less crowded. And so you can join me in my mirth, I have posted some excellent examples below:

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad

Carlsbad

Petrified Forest

petrified Petrified

Crater Lake

craterlake Craterlake

Death Valley

deathvalley DeathValley

 

Olympic

olympic Olympic

Yosemite

yosemite Yosemite

 

Why do women leave STEM positions? It’s the cultural climate… duh

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This is a new post about women in STEM. But this one offers the unique perspective because it is about women in STEM INDUSTRY positions, rather than academic positions.

I have made it no secret that I’m considering industry over academia (see post here), which is why I found this article over at Medium so interesting.

The author (Rachel Thomas) has the unique perspective of simultaneously being passionate about the work she’s pursuing in industry, and disgusted by the culture of programming in a non academic setting.

Short summary:

Bad News: There is a crazy high attrition rate for women working in tech (38% retention rate for women in engineering). As a result, the pipeline problem might not be in the earlier stages of the pipeline, meaning that educating more girls and women in STEM fields is not enough to rectify the problem. Rather, the author suggests that we need to find a way to change the cultural community within STEM industries.

Good News: The author still thinks change is possible. Within academic settings (Harvey Mudd and Harvard Business School) strong leaders at both institutions caused sweeping changes to address previously male-centric cultures. There is hope!

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Shooting wildlife can be dangerous to your health

And not for the reason you think.

Recently a gentleman in East Texas learned this the terribly hard way. He was hospitalized for a gun shot wound. No, our animal in question did not successfully point a gun and shoot it anyone.

However, it turns out that when said gentleman fired his gun at an armadillo, the bullet ricocheted off the armor of our heroic mammal.

This is not the only time armadillos have inadvertently harmed humans.

In Georgia last April, another gentleman shot an armadillo and the bullet ricocheted off the armadillo and hit his mother-in-law. 

The lesson here, don’t shoot at wildlife.

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Notes from the field: Failures

I organized/managed/collected data over three field seasons in New Zealand.

Now, as a big chunk of my work has shifted to theory, the time I spent in the field has made me appreciate how hard it is to collect data.

And although none of the NiB contributors are in the field this summer, we have all experienced the joys and woes of field work.

So it seems appropriate that as the summer (and many people’s field seasons) winds down that I share the most epic twitter hashtag of the summer.

#fieldworkfail

Carrie Cizauskas: When your drugged zebra finds the ONE tree on the Namibian plains, which also has a neck-height fork #fieldworkfail

Carrie Cizauskas:
When your drugged zebra finds the ONE tree on the Namibian plains, which also has a neck-height fork #fieldworkfail

Tony Gamble: That cool spider you took photos of then released was an undescribed species #fieldworkfail

Tony Gamble:
That cool spider you took photos of then released was an undescribed species #fieldworkfail

Kate Jones Getting the @ZSLScience truck stuck in a river in the middle of Mongolia whilst searching for bats #fieldworkfail

Kate Jones
Getting the @ZSLScience truck stuck in a river in the middle of Mongolia whilst searching for bats #fieldworkfail

Dr. Alistair Dove Skillfully applied thousand dollar satellite tag to manta ray. The same manta ray I tagged yesterday #fieldworkfail

Dr. Alistair Dove
Skillfully applied thousand dollar satellite tag to manta ray. The same manta ray I tagged yesterday #fieldworkfail

TSV ‏ Group leader read a map wrong. We ended up a mile into an active USAF target range. Left very quickly. #FieldWorkFail

TSV ‏
Group leader read a map wrong. We ended up a mile into an active USAF target range. Left very quickly. #FieldWorkFail

Andrew Hendry ‏ Student fishing for guppies in Trinidad just inches from a Fer de Lance. NOT STAGED.

Andrew Hendry ‏
Student fishing for guppies in Trinidad just inches from a Fer de Lance. NOT STAGED.

Laurie Santos 2007:

Laurie Santos
2007: “We can swim there. There are *never* jellyfish.” You can’t swim there. There are many jellyfish #fieldworkfail

The Golden Age of Antibiotics is Over

Ten Most Dangerous Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

Ten Most Dangerous Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

We’ve all heard about antibiotic resistant bacteria. It’s time to admit, we’re losing this war. Drug resistant superbugs like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Straphylococcus aureus), CRE (Carbapenum-resistant enterobacteriaceae), and VRE (Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus) are slowly winning.

However, all hope is not lost! Over at the Genetic Literacy Project, Nicholas Staropoli wrote an excellent article about how we may be losing the war against bacteria, but that is no reason to throw in the towel against disease.

He offers two solutions: Phage therapy and CRISPR technology (which we’ve talked about on this blog)

Phage therapy, where the enemy of my enemy is my friend, involves inducing species specific viruses that attack harmful bacteria.

And if you haven’t jumped on the CRISPR technology bandwagon, now is your moment. Seriously, this technology is not only promising and interesting, it’s getting a ton of great press these days.

Moral of the story? It’s time to rearm ourselves for the continued battles ahead.

Fear the resistance

Fear the resistance

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A Reef Made of Mollusks!

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Modern reefs are made up predominantly of coral, those fabulous cnidarians that colonize into epically beautiful formations.

However, it turns out that the reefs of the Mesozoic were dominated not by the modern decorative colonizers, but by mollusks, similar to clams.

While the fossils of these organisms, called Rudists, used to be thought of as made by sheep or goats, but we now know that they are the only mollusk to ever construct massive reefs.

They were hardy reef builders, protected by their strong shells. The reef was built not as a colony but because shells often grew close to one another, forming networks of mutual support. This allowed the reef structures to become quite large, some stretching hundreds of kilometers long.

Modern reefs, made up of colonizing corals.

Modern reefs, made up of colonizing corals.

Additionally, the variation in rudist size was vast. Some were only a few centimeters, while others spanned over a meter.

Despite their prevalence in the oceans of the dinosaurs (it all comes back to dinosaurs this summer…), they went extinct approximately 1 million years before the meteorite that caused the dinosaur extinction crashed into the Yucatan Peninsula.

Why they went extinct? It remains a mystery.

Read all about rudists over at American Scientist!

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