Newly discovered sea creature named after my president

It was an uneventful marine creature, thriving 500 million years ago. Tiny, disc-shaped and ~1/2 inch long with raised spiral grooves on its surface. It spent it’s entire life embedded on the ocean floor, and likely never moved. It is among the earliest animals to exist on earth, and was recently discovered in a remarkably well-preserved fossil bed.

But now it holds a unique and unusual honor: it’s been given the scientific name Obamus coronatus, in honor of President Barack Obama’s passion for science.

Read more about it here!

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Australia opens vast swaths of famed marine parks to fishing

Australia is known for protecting its sea life in a 3.3 million square kilometer (1.3 million square mile) system of marine parks that covers 36 percent of the country’s oceans. The protection of those parks is now at stake, as the government last week approved five long-awaited management plans covering 44 parks. The new plans open 17 percent of the parks’ area to commercial fishing and 16 percent of their area to recreational fishing compared to the original plans formed by the previous government when the parks were proclaimed in 2012.

Read more here.

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Interested in responsible gene editing? Join the (new) club

You had to see this coming. When we first started discussing the possibility of gene editing, our second thought was “oh shoot, this could get ethically complicated quickly”.

So it’s not surprise that as we continue down this path, many a voice is rising in caution.

Read about some of them here.

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Congress just allocated $1.6 billion to build 33 miles of new barriers around the refuge in the Rio Grande Valley. These wall sections — a compromise to assuage President Trump, who wants a wall across the entire border — are expected to disrupt several other protected parcels of land home to rare animals, plants, and birds, including the National Butterfly Center, a state park, and several other tracts of land in the federal wildlife refuge system.

Want to know more about how the border wall will impact butterflies? Read about it here.

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Want to crowdfund your science? New study hints at who is successful

A study on how to best fund your studies. Very meta.

But seriously, as most governmental forms of funding are drying up, scientist are by necessity trying to figure out how to fund their research. And crowd funding has become an increasingly interesting option.

So, are you/your study well suited for this funding avenue? Read about it herecrowdfunding.jpg!

 

How Not To Talk About Race And Genetics

“In his newly published book Who We Are and How We Got Here, geneticist David Reich engages with the complex and often fraught intersections of genetics with our understandings of human differences — most prominently, race.

He admirably challenges misrepresentations about race and genetics made by the likes of former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade and Nobel Laureate James Watson. As an eminent scientist, Reich clearly has experience with the genetics side of this relationship. But his skillfulness with ancient and contemporary DNA should not be confused with a mastery of the cultural, political, and biological meanings of human groups.

As a group of 67 scholars from disciplines ranging across the natural sciences, medical and population health sciences, social sciences, law, and humanities, we would like to make it clear that Reich’s understanding of “race” — most recently in a Times column warning that “it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among ‘races’” — is seriously flawed.”

Read about it here.

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“Fits neatly inside a lizard’s cloaca”: scientists review products on Amazon

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Ziploc bags can be used as snail carriers. Food containers make good little bee homes. A salad spinner makes a good PCR centrifuge. Any scientist who’s ever done field work knows that everyday household projects can be game changers.

And now, scientists are reviewing these products on Amazon.

Read about them here!