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.



Friday Coffee Break



A rather depressing new figure that is circulating around the social media sites about the prospects for a biology PhD. (From Sarah)

Beard trends in men are undergoing negative frequency dependent selection…. seriously. (From Sarah)

The world from the fabulous point of view of the snail. (From CJ)

Whooping cranes make a nest, lay an egg in Louisiana for the first time in 70 years. This reintroduction has been extremely difficult, with locals shooting captive bred released birds repeatedly and a host of other problems. It’s obviously not out of the woods yet, but this is amazing progress! (From Noah)



Friday Coffee Break



Documenting butterfly life cycles through paintings, long before such things were done. Especially by women! (From CJ)

Whales eat a lot. So if there were a 100x more whales in the ocean than there are now, where did all their food come from? Turns out whales create a more fertile ocean using their own poop! (From Amy)

How can male academics better help and include their female counterparts? A new bi-weekly chat held by STEM women. (From Amy)

Never underestimate a salamander. Researchers in California have found that they may help combat the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (From Noah).

Do you like charismatic megafauna? You’re not alone. Apparently the bigger the animal, the more publications. (From Jeremy)

One of the fastest changing ecosystems? The grasslands of the Dakotas. (From Jeremy)

WARNING! NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART! (These are both from Sarah)

First, a toad with a visible parasite in it’s eye.

Second, an intense botfly removal… 

And a slightly less gross video about a rare oarfish sighting. (From CJ)

Friday Coffee Break



Well this is terrifying. Ebola outbreak in Guinea, that is both unexpected and spreading at an alarming rate. (From Sarah)

An eight year old girl tries to make the wooly mammoth the state fossil of South Carolina… and is blocked by state senators? (From Sarah)

APRIL FOOLS! Or not. A few science claims by people we wish were joking. (From Amy)

Just-so stories in science, dead-end explanations or a scientific horizon? In defense of a long held bias agains story telling. (From Jeremy)

Along the line of good stories, here we have a collection of images from the horror fiction genera featuring interesting organisms! (From Noah)


Friday Coffee Break: Sounding the alarm on global warming, gut microbes and radiation therapy, and life, uh, finding a way.

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Here’s what we’ll be chatting about while we’re waiting in line for a latte.

“For anybody who was already paying attention, the report contains no new science. But the language in the 18-page report, called ‘What We Know,’ is sharper, clearer and more accessible than perhaps anything the scientific community has put out to date.” (via Jeremy)

“Over the last century, almost every frontline antimalarial drug – chloroquine, sulfadoxine, pyrimethamine – has become obsolete because of defiant parasites that emerged from western Cambodia.” (Jeremy)

Here are some adorable, possibly NSFW, definitely anthropomorphic illustrations of the diversity of animal mating systems. (Sarah)

“The aim is to build up a profile of gut bacteria which will allow us to predict who will suffer side-effects that might limit the effectiveness of the radiotherapy.” (Sarah)

“After years of predicting it would happen — and after years of having their suggestions largely ignored by companies, farmers and regulators — scientists have documented the rapid evolution of corn rootworms that are resistant to [genetically modified] Bt corn.” (Sarah, who also notes that this is yet further confirmation of Malcolm’s Law.)

Friday Coffee Break: Terror birds, privatized science, and negotiating (or not) for a faculty job

Airway Coffee Ad, c1954

Here’s what we’ll be talking about while we wait in line for a latte.

“The 18 known species, the tallest growing to a staggering 10 feet tall, didn’t bother with flying, instead opting to chase down all those creatures that had only just thrown their good-riddance-to-the-massive-carnivorous-dinosaurs party. The poor things woke up with a hangover, and the hangover was the terror bird.” (from Jeremy)

“In a long, narrow strip of territory from Kansas to New Jersey, two closely related species of chickadees meet, mate and give birth to hybrid birds. Now scientists are reporting that this so-called hybrid zone is moving north at a rate that matches the warming trend in winter temperatures.” (Jeremy)

“Created by divers for divers, this global, underwater survey of rubbish is designed to increase debris removal efforts, prevent harm to marine life and connect your underwater actions to policy changes and prevention.” (CJ)

“For better or worse,” said Steven A. Edwards, a policy analyst at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.” (Noah)

“Despite such power players in W’s corner, however, the fact remains that in a substantial portion of the academic discussion, she is being eviscerated, all for having the audacity to stick up for herself for the first (and possibly last) time in her career.” (Sarah)

“I don’t know what happened on the job interview, but that email from the candidate to the Dean is a huge red flag word embroidered with script that reads: ‘I don’t want to teach’ and ‘I expect you to give me resources just like a research university would.'” (Sarah)

Friday Coffee Break: The river of Twitter, the history of an actual river, and evolution in a storybook

Vintage coffee cans 1

Here’s what we’ll be discussing while we wait in line for a latte.

“A healthy first reaction to every and any tweet is ‘Golly, I wonder what the hell the context for that could possibly be!'” (Via Sarah)

“Children learned a lot from one pretty basic storybook intervention so imagine what a curriculum spread over several years might do for scientific literacy long term.” (Sarah)

Time-lapse satellite images track the shifting oxbow curves of Peru’s Ucayali River over 28 years. (Noah)

“It is alarming that so many Nobel Prize recipients have lamented that they would never have survived this current academic environment.” (Noah)

“The data lying behind this graphic reflects some of the biggest changes in the history of English. Today, English borrows from other languages with a truly global sweep.” (Jeremy)

“Ingenuity and lots of sticky tape and glue have helped a rare parrot chick survive against the odds.” (Jeremy)