Carnival of Evolution, March 2013

Carnival of Venice 2010

Welcome, readers, to the 57th Carnival of Evolution. This past month, the 204th birthday of Charles Darwin just happened to fall on Mardi Gras, a celebration of life’s exuberant excesses. So put on your most dazzling mask, and join us for an exploration of the endless forms most beautiful to be found in the living, evolving world.

Evolutionary science

In addition to Darwin Day and Mardi Gras, February is the month of Valentine’s Day. So it’s maybe appropriate that evolutionary bloggers had sex on the brain. Joachim describes new research on the specific forms of natural selection that might have supported the evolution of sexual reproduction. Right here at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense!, Amy Dapper writes about one consequence of sex, among grass gobies: “sneaker” males with specialized sperm. And Jeremy Yoder (yours truly) takes a look at daisies that attract pollinators by fooling them into mating with deceptive flower petals.

Meanwhile, Hannah Waters explains why sociable weaver birds nest together—because it pays to stay home and help their parents.

While most songbird species breed before they even turn a year old, sociable weavers rarely breed before the age of two. Instead, these younger birds help raise other nestlings–their siblings as well as unrelated chicks–by gathering food and maintaining the nest’s fluffy interior chambers and external sticks and grass.

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Friday Coffee Break

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

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Zombie photo of ants are upside down? Amy attempts to turn us right side up.

Squids can sometimes get a bad rep (unless they are breaded and deep fried). But has CJ found the exception? Potentially the worlds cutest squid picture. Ever.

As spring approach, can you feel the electricity in the air? Bees can! Amy is reading about bees sensing flowers using bright colors, petals, aroma and the electrical field of the flower.

Hysterical but slightly inaccurate video about what overweight animals might look like. It almost like “Biggest Loser: Serengeti Special”

Devin is reading about the H-index from someone with a big one. Does side matter? When it comes to how many times your works get cited it does.

Medicine is so far behind the technology curve. But Jonathan is hopeful it will improve! Using their iPhones and iPads to share procedures and journal articles.

Having a little trouble picking a favorite species concept? Here’s an article making an argument for a universal phylogenomic species concept. Although for the record Sarah thinks it should be called the “global species concept” instead of “universal species concept”. Seems to her it’s a little premature to say aliens are made up of DNA.

As if there wasn’t enough fear associated with having children, Sarah is outraged over this fearmongering. Having boys is more energetically costly than girls?

Jeremy is not beating around the bush, he’s got some seriously hot controversy. 80% of the human genome is functional, absurd statement or solid?