Going to a really macabre candy store-except instead of sweets there are tapeworms

If you’re not reading everything that Ed Young writes, you’re missing out.

And he’s once again hit it out of the park with this great post about America’s Largest Collection of Parasites (although when my coauthor Kim Lackey and I cleaned our the parasitology lab a few years ago, it could have been in the running).

These jars of wonder/parasites are kept in my favorite of the Smithsonians, the Natural History Museum. Read all about Ed’s exploration of this TREASURE trove of awesome here.

And remember, Parasitism really is the sincerest form of flattery.lead_960.jpg

 

Advertisements

An epilogue to a mutant snail

Let’s all bow our heads in silence for Jeremy, the brown garden snail. Jeremy was a special snail, and known worldwide for his shell. You see, it coiled left instead of right (not a political metaphor). Because of this , he had trouble mating.

 Jeremy comes from humble beginnings, and was discovered in a compost heap in South West London by a retired scientist from The Natural History Museum. He recognized Jeremy was special and notified Angus Davison, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Nottingham in Britain who studies snails.Jeremy won international fame for a mutation that caused his shell to coil left instead of right.

Dr. Davison wanted to know if Jeremy’s left-coiled shell was inherited or just a strange developmental mishap, and for that he needed offspring. He took Jeremy into his care and appealed to the public to find him a mate with the hashtag #leftysnail. The media followed with #snaillove, and Jeremy became a star. He even inspired a love song.

Hence, there was a worldwide search for Jeremy’s soulmate/any mate will do really. And indeed! Two mates were found:Lefty of Ipswich, England and Tomeu of Majorca, Spain. But alas, they were more interested in each other than Jeremy.

For years, people searched for another lefty snail with which he could mate. Shortly before his death, she was found. His legacy will continue in the genetic knowledge gained from the lefty snail offspring they produced together. However, just days before his death, Tomeu produced more than four dozen offspring, some of which Jeremy likely fathered. He didn’t get a chance to meet them, but “on a scientific note, he wouldn’t have recognized them”.

Jeremy was found dead Wednesday in a refrigerator in a British research lab, and likely died of old age. He will be missed.

Read the whole story here!

artofdatascience.jpg

A man accidentally started a social media war between two of London’s biggest museums

With this seemingly non-confrontational tweet, a London man started a battle between museum greats:

Do you remember that argument when you were little “my dad can beat up your dad”? It’s like that only with awesome specimens, and cool science. Hats off to the curators… this was well done.

See below for the beginning of the feud, or read it all here.

 

Flamingos In The Men’s Room: How Zoos And Aquariums Handle Hurricanes

While people can flee in the face of a hurricane, zoos and aquariums don’t have that luxury. They can’t abandon the animals which they care for, and the trauma of an evacuation might harm more animals than it would save.

How do they deal with it? Read about it here. One solution, keep the Flamingos in the men’s room…

gettyimages-1149973_slide-70446cbcd6d6fd12d1db9807d453c948eef6e20a-s1400-c85.jpg

Dinosaur Babies are a Bit on the Slow Side

Since birds are dinosaurs, we have long assumed the quick way that birds exit their shell was mimicked in their much larger and significantly more extinct brethren.

However, it turns out that it takes much longer (3-6 months) for a dinosaur to exit its shell.

Why does that matter? Well it might have put them at a disadvantage relative to faster producing animals, like mammals and modern birds.

Curious how scientist figured it out (No, they didn’t clone dinosaurs like Jurassic Park… yet)? Check it out over at Science.

erickson-et-al-cover-art_16x9

Big Picture of the Little Bones in Tuatara

Tuatara are a “living fossil” found in New Zealand. And it turns out it is also an excellent system to study the evolution of sesamoid bones (typically small bones found in tendons and near joints.

Want to know more about these awesome creatures, and what this can tell us about human and lizard anatomy?

Read about it here! 

Or enjoy these photos.

tuatara-skeletontuatara1