More winged dinosaurs!

Ok, you may have noticed that I’m all about dinosaurs this summer. Yes, it’s because I’m obsessed with Jurassic World (see here and here).

And, science keeps providing (thank you science).

For example, a large, feathered, winged dinosaur was recently found in China.


Not only is it amazing looking, but it’s a close and slightly larger velociraptor (these guys here or here).

Read all about it here! 

Or get the paper over at Scientific Reports.


The Tarantula Hawk


Despite its name, the Tarantula Hawk (Pepsis hemipepsis) is neither a Tarantula nor a Hawk.

It is however, terrifyingly awesome.

Tarantula hawks are a spider wasp (wha?!?!) that hunt tarantulas. That’s right, those big scary spiders of your nightmare? They hunt them. Hunt. Them.

All this despite their slightly smaller size (2 in) relative to the tarantulas (3 – 12 in) . Their stinger can be up to 7mm long, and is generally considered to be the second most painful sting in the world. Would not want to do this kind of research, but it’s awesome someone has quantified this.

Want to hear/read/see more (yep). Check out this story over on NPR.

Or check out this video.


Rescue the turtles!

Good new! A few weeks ago conservation biologists estimated that there were 3,000 Philippine forest turtles left in the world. But it turns out there are around 3,800!

Bad news: The reason the have this recount is they found all 3,800 piled up in a shipping crate.

That’s right, the entirety of a species on the verge of extinction due to being poached and put into the back of a shipping crate. Every. Single. One.

Read about the awesome efforts of turtle groups around the world to release these little guys over at The Dododsc_41951-222661.

Botanical Gardens Showdown

The State Arboretum of Virginia (UVA)

The State Arboretum of Virginia (UVA)

Do you have a local University botanical garden, or arboretum?

Do you think it’s the best?

Well now we have a definitive list! See where yours ranks!


Each botanical garden and arboretum was  rated and ranked based on the following:

Rating and Ranking Methodology

Awards and Recognition
2 points—Major (national or international) award or recognition
1 point—Regional or local award or recognition
Variety of Species
3 points—Over 5,000 different plant species represented
2 points—Over 3,000 different plant species represented
1 point—Over 1,000 different plant species represented
Conservation and Education
1 point—Endangered plant species represented
1 point—Presence of educational outreach programs
1 point—Presence of horticultural library
1 point—LEED green building on site
Connected University Degree Programs
2 points awarded for school of agriculture (or related discipline) on site
1 point for presence of a connected degree program (i.e., horticulture, ecology, botany, etc.)
Wow Factor
1 point—1 point awarded for each unique feature that “wowed” us

For a totally unbiased perspective I have chosen to show photos of the University of Idaho arboretum (where I’m working on completing my PhD) and the University of Virginia arboretum (GO Hoos!).

University of Idaho Arboretum

University of Idaho Arboretum

Teaching for all my friends!

We have talked on this blog before about the woes of schools that are outsourcing their teaching. One cause of this problem is that schools want excellent teachers who do excellent research and produce excellent graduate students (or undergraduates)… which is a hard act on the best of days.

Along those same lines a really good post over at Small Pond Science discusses this plight for new faculty, especially new faculty at teaching institutes.

from PhD researcher to teacher main page

Can teaching schools have it all from every professor?

Entomologist Go Mainstream!

It would be hard to argue that many scientific groups that study specific organismic groups are truly widely known (maybe mammalogists… or ornithologists?).

So when a group of scientist that studies a specific group of organisms gets a full article on Buzzfeed

Yeah we’re going to talk about it.

Check out the post above, or the twitter #LivingWithAnEntomologist


The benefits of thinking

The theory of evolution by natural selection is among the best established theory in science (this very blog is named by the famous Dobzhansky, quote). However, despite it’s establishment and well known history, it is among the most controversial subsets of science for the american people.

It is no surprise that someone’s understanding of evolution is altered by demographic factors such as religious upbringing, political affiliation and county of origin.

However, recent mounting evidence about the cognition of religion could explain why the very eloquent theory of evolution is difficult to understand, leading people to instead adopt creationism as a compelling alternative.

A new paper by Will Gervais in Cognition addresses the above idea.

Read about it over at NPR!



Walking, it’s good for your brain

A plethora of new studies have demonstrated that mental and physical health are both benefited by spending time outdoors (not the best news for PhD students finishing their dissertation (cough, me)).

One example: a cognitive neuroscience study demonstrating the neural signature of walking through nature.

Read the paper here, or the Washington Post article summarizing the findings here.

And get off your computer for a few minutes and go for a nice long stroll through your closest natural habitat.