Displaying posts categorized under

Evolution

Shakespeare’s Birthday and Evolution

William Shakespeare was baptized April 26, 1564. His birthday is traditionally commemorated on April 23 (incidentally, that is also the date of his death, in 1616). One interesting connection between Shakespeare and evolution was made by Richard Dawkins in his book The Blind Watchmaker: I am talking about the Weasel program. Weasel is an elegant illustration of the […]

Why are there no (or almost no) disease-causing Archaea?

Some microbes are evil minions of Hell (but not all) Quite a few people think that microbes are evil, disease causing minions of Hell that should be eradicated. Supermarkets are handing out sanitary wipes: wipe the handlebar if you want to live, never mind that 90% of the food in the supermarket is worse for […]

The Oxygen Rush: late January, all of February and a Day in November

I have just returned from British Columbia in Canada. I have to admit that their license plate motto is quite accurate: BC is incredibly beautiful. Another thing that struck me is the provincial flag of BC: the Union Jack at the top (OK, it is British Columbia), there are white and blue horizontal stripes, and […]

A new life form? Not so fast

So everybody is excited about the new GFAJ-1 bacterium that Felisa Wolfe-Simon and her colleagues have discovered. A common buzzphrase diffusing through the media and blogosphere is “NASA discovers a new  life form“. (Or, better yet alien life.) Big press conference, and I just finished going through  the article that Wolfe-Simon and colleagues have published in Science. Great […]

Warm blooded turtles?

If you entered this post to comment the error in the title, then I have one word for you. Gotcha! Yes, “warm blooded” animals are not, really, warm blooded. After all, a lizard in the baking sun has a core temperature higher than most mammals, but it is still called “cold blooded”.  So-called cold blooded […]

Carnival of Evolution #29

Yes, it’s that time when we all get together in front of the screen to watch another beautiful game played by that fantastic team contributing to the Carnival of Evolution. This time hosted on the lovely green pitch of Byte Size Biology. So get your popcorn, sunflower-seeds, crisps or any other culturally-appropriate sports-watching food and…… […]

Carnival of Evolution coming here

The 29th edition of the Carnival of Evolution will be hosted here. There are quite a few good things in store: on parrot feathers and lizardfish eyes, on Darwin cartoons, on dogs, dancing and much more. You can still contribute. So if you are a blogger with a post on evolution, go to the blog […]

Life serves viruses

Sometimes I get the feeling that all life on Earth basically serves as a vehicle for viral replication and propagation. Viruses thrive in all three domains, they embed themselves in all creature’s genomes, they may lie dormant in the genome for eons or decimate whole populations in a few years, and they are the most […]

When is it a good idea to cheat?

I have written before about bacterial cooperation, and how cheating works, up to a point, in an environment of bacterial cooperation. That post talked about bacterial quorum sensing, the collective signaling mechanism by which bacteria construct supra-cellular structures called biofilms. Biofilms are tough multicellular enclosures that allow bacteria to survive and thrive in hostile environments, […]

Goat breath causes aphids to drop to the ground

Some headlines just write themselves… It has been known for some time that an approaching large herbivore causes aphids to abandon ship …err plant. Makes sense since, after all, there’s not much of a point in staying on the particular bit of shrubbery that will be consumed, lock, stalk and barrel by a ravenous forager. […]

The Scope(s) of Substance

Bora Zivkovic, the BUCA (Best Universal Common Ancestor) of science bloggers has tagged this blog with with a Blog of Substance award. As a grateful recipient of this award I am obligated to do two things: 1. Sum up my blogging motivation, philosophy and experience in exactly 10 words. 2. Pass this award on to […]

Protein function, promiscuity, moonlighting and philosophy

I recently received an email from a graduate student in Philosophy regarding protein function. Not sure if that person wants his name advertised, so I will keep it to myself. “I am a fan of your blog, and interested in the philosophy of biology. One particularly interesting question is what makes something have a function; […]

Comparative Functional Genomics: Penguin vs. Bacterium

No, not the flesh-blood-and-feathers penguin, but rather Tux, the beloved mascot of the Linux operating system. Compared with Escherichia coli, the model organism of choice for microbiologists. We refer to DNA as “the book of life”; some geeks refer to it as the “operating system of life”. Just like in a computer’s operating system, DNA […]

Well, color me surprised

Nature is colorful. And the family of pigments that is mostly responsible for these colors are carotenoids. Carotenoids  make the apples and tomatoes red, the lemons and grapefruit yellow, the pumpkins oranges and, yes carrots, (from which their name is derived), orange. Carotenoids also make flamingos and salmon pink, and color the puffin’s bill orange. […]

Blogosphere catches: Marco Island, finding Ada and blog carnivals

Some interesting events cropped up recently. The Marco Island Advances in Genome Biology and Technology meeting was heavily tweeted and blogged about.  Pacific Biosciences unveiled their third generation sequencer. Ostensibly, it can sequence reads of 20,000 length, but the fraction of actual long reads in a run, and their quality is still a bit hazy. […]