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.

Americans who say they don’t “believe” in evolution still seem to understand it. (Jeremy)

Humans may have evolved bigger brains at the expense of muscle strength. (Jeremy)

What’s troublesome about Troublesome Inheritance. (Jeremy)

What’s an elfie? This is an elfie. (Sarah)

Two disturbing figures from Your Wild Life – regarding trash (this pertains to you, Georgians!) and poop. (Sarah)

 

PS. Ahoy!

 

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Why we should all (evolutionary biologists) be excited about studying Cannabis.

 

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Figure 1. Cannabis plants at the Centennial Seeds facilities.

This is a guest post by Daniela Vergara, a postdoctoral researcher studying the genomic architecture of hybrid species of sunflowers and Cannabis in Nolan Kane’s Lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  Daniela also blogs about science at A Ciencia Abierta. Check out her blog for a spanish version of this post.

Cannabis is definitely a cool plant. It has fun names like matanuska thunderfuck, jesus OG or trainwreck and it has been trendy among humans for a very long time (humans have utilized it for thousands of years). Despite this long history, and the fact that Cannabis is the most widely used recreational drug in the world [1], the genomics and the general the biology of these plants have only been partially studied. At the Cannabis Genomic Research Initiative (CGRI) at the University of Colorado Boulder we want to study this genus of plants for several reasons, including: (i) its medical significance, (ii) its importance in the biofuel, fiber, oil, textile and food industries, (iii) its long co-evolutionary relationship with humans as an ancient crop, and (iv) in general, because it is an exciting emerging study system in evolutionary biology.

Why should evolutionary biologists be excited about studying Cannabis?

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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.

From CJ: On getting the most for both you and your students during summer projects.

Also from CJ: After careful consideration, Dr. Indiana Jones is rejected for tenure.

From Jeremy: Apparently, it’s not the doctors who are driving up medical costs.

Also from Jeremy: “More than 40 percent of American students who start at four-year colleges haven’t earned a degree after six years.”

From Amy: A two-parter. First, a little backstory and second, the random things that correlate: a cautionary tale.

From Sarah:  Le Parc Naturel de la Mer De Corail – the world’s largest marine sanctuary.

Also from Sarah: Adjunctivits correlates with highest paid university presidents and *GASP* higher student debt.

FINALLY – AND WORTHY OF CAPS LOCK – A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS TO FORMER CONTRIBUTOR DEVIN DROWN, WHO WILL BE STARTING A TENURE-TRACK FACULTY POSITION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA, FAIRBANKS, NEXT JANUARY. WAHOOOOOOOOOO!

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.

From Sarah: Well – THAT is a pretty good idea.

Also from Sarah: My inner naturalist and inner molluscophobe are fighting. Nifty or icky? Both, I guess.

From Amy: “There’s little about the discovery that isn’t gross. It looks like angel hair pasta. It’s undeniably enormous. And it’s cocooned in bat poop. It’s the world’s oldest…” what? The world’s oldest WHAT?!?!?

From Jeremy: The ways in which brood parasites and their hosts are super awesome seem endless…

Finally: Oh, emu poop, you are amazing.

 

PS – And thanks for the double helix-icious latte art, Nicole!

 

Pollination syndromes point to species interactions present and past

Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Cardinal Flower

Want hummingbirds? Paint the town red. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region.

In my part of North America, spring is finally underway after a long slog of a winter. The trees lining the streets of my Minneapolis neighborhood are lacy-green with budding leaves, flowerbeds all over the University of Minnesota campus are yellow and red and pink with daffodils and tulips, and violets are popping up in the edges of lawns everywhere I look.

Of course, all of this colorful display isn’t for my benefit. Showy flowers are an adaptation to attract animal pollinators. Some flowers are quite precisely matched to a single species of pollinator, but most flowers have lots of visitors. These less specialized flowers are still adapted for their attractive function, though—and this is the origin of pollination syndromes.

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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.

From CJ – Soon we will live…FOREVER! At least if we can figure out how these jellyfish do it.

From Noah – The death toll rises – researchers still counting and estimating birds killed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

From Amy – Better check your by-line! Middle initials make you seem smarter.

Also from Amy“Chameleon” vine mimics whatever plant it happens to be climbing…freaky.

From Jeremy – I hope they have space orchids: NASA wants a greenhouse on Mars (and soon!).

From Sarah – Apparently, I’m not the only one who is terrified of has wondered what lives in the Mariana Trench.

 

Alvin, Simon and Theodosius Dobzhansky*

You know the type. Big, brown eyes. Cute, little nose. Long, striped tail.

Tamias amoenus canicaudus, Steptoe Butte, WA, photo: Noah M Reid

Tamias amoenus canicaudus, Steptoe Butte, WA, photo: Noah M Reid

Chipmunks are adorable and one of the more easily viewed yet still kind of exotic North American mammals (in my opinion). I worked on red-tailed chipmunks for my Master’s degree at the University of Idaho with Jack Sullivan. Sullivan (et al.) just published a review of all the chipmunk research that’s taken place in his lab over the past 10 years or so. Central to the review is the concept of divergence with gene flow (DGF), but let’s start with some back story.

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