Archive for the 'Zoology' category

Are Zombie Vultures In Our Future?

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Only thirty years ago, tens of millions of White-rumped Vultures, Gyps bengalensis,
were flying the skies of Asia. They are now classified as Critically Endangered.
Image: Marek Jobda / rarebirdsyearbook.com [larger view]

This post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for ResearchBlogging.org

A zombie is another name for The Walking Dead -- those who are lifeless, apathetic, or totally lacking in independent judgment. But in an ecological sense, a zombie species no longer fulfills its ecological function because it is becoming extinct. This is a topic that I hope to explore further in another blog entry, but for now, today's zombie theme and vultures' delightful dining habits (they eat zombies) and my zombie icon have inspired me to focus on them.

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Of Venom and Silk

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Spider biologist Norman Platnick, from the American Museum of Natural History, has traveled the world cataloguing some of these creatures, many for the first time ever. World renowned for his work, he hopes to find as many as species as possible before some disappear.

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Evolution in Action by AMNH

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This video tells the story of speciation in Central Africa's roiling, rapid Lower Congo River. This river is home to an extraordinary assortment of fish -- many truly bizarre. This new video by Science Bulletins, the American Museum of Natural History's current-science video program, features Museum scientists on a quest to understand why so many species have evolved here. Follow Curator of Ichthyology Melanie Stiassny and her team as they search the Lower Congo River's mysterious depths for an evolutionary driver.

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Inside the Collections: Ichthyology at AMNH

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This video is the first of a new series of behind-the-scenes looks at the collections at the American Museum of Natural History. In this video, Melanie Stiassny, Axelrod Research Curator in the Department of Ichthyology, takes us through the Museum's vast collection of fishes.

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Here Be Dragons: How the Study of Animal and Plant Distributions Revolutionized Our Views of Life and Earth

Jun 24 2010 Published by under Biology, Book Review, Evolution, Fossils, Nature, Zoology

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I'm happy: another book review of mine was just published, this time, by Science magazine. This book, Here Be Dragons: How the Study of Animal and Plant Distributions Revolutionized Our Views of Life and Earth (Oxford University Press: Oxford; 2009), is by Dennis McCarthy, a researcher at the Buffalo Museum of Science in Buffalo, New York. In short, I liked the book and I thought it was generally well-written, but it could easily have been twice as long and provided more depth and nuance to the points the author was discussing. You can access the review on the Science site or you can ask me for a copy and I'll happily email it to you [PDF].

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Meet Paul, Germany's Prognosticating Octopus

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Paul -- an octopus at the Sea Life public aquarium in Oberhausen, western Germany -- has so far correctly predicted the outcome of each of Germany's World Cup matches. On Tuesday, Paul contemplates Wednesday's match between Germany and Ghana. [larger view]

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The Laryngeal Nerve of the Giraffe is Proof of Natural Selection

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This video, including comments by Richard Dawkins, documents a necropsy (an autopsy on an animal other than a human) carried out in a classroom on a giraffe. In this video, we follow the pathway of the recurrent (inferior) laryngeal nerve, an important nerve that is a branch of the Vagus nerve (tenth cranial nerve). The recurrent (inferior) laryngeal nerve, which branches off the Vagus nerve at the base of the brain, travels down the neck, around the arteries of the heart and travels back up the neck to ennervate the larynx, or voice box, thereby providing motor function. The purpose of doing this exercise is to show that there is no so-called "intelligent designer" because the pathway of this nerve is completely illogical -- unless, of course, you accept that evolution is the reason for this nerve's convoluted pathway through the body.

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TEDTalks: Peter Tyack: The Intriguing Sound of Marine Mammals

Jun 18 2010 Published by under Mammals, Streaming videos, Teaching, Zoology

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Bird watchers (especially those who do most of their birding by ear) will particularly enjoy this video: Peter Tyack of Woods Hole talks about a hidden wonder of the sea: underwater sound. Onstage at Mission Blue, he explains the amazing ways whales use sound and song to communicate across hundreds of miles of ocean.

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Earthworm Porn

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This video is a look at Isabella Rossellini's bizarre and hilarious look at sex in the natural world as she explores the mating habits of those naughty earthworms.

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TEDTalks: John Kasaona Tells Us How Poachers Became Caretakers

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In his home of Namibia, John Kasaona is working on an innovative way to protect endangered animal species: giving nearby villagers (including former poachers) responsibility for caring for the animals. And it's working.

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