Sunday, September 24, 2006
I have mentioned using 3d laser scanning technology to record rock art before. Now the archaeology data service has made the archive of the project: Breaking Through Rock Art Recording: 3D laser scanning of megalithic rock art available. There are lots of nice images and renderings of the scans available and it is even possible to get hold of the 3d data if you ask for it and pay a fee as the files are quite big. The sites scanned for the project were Long meg, Castlerigg, Copt Howe and Horseshoe rock.
See also: Project page at the University of Durham
Castlerigg - the spiral that vanished at the Rock art blog
The stinkhorns are a fascinating fungi noted for their rapid growth, smell and unusual appearance.
Phallus impudicus breaking through a pavement from ref. 1
1) Is Phallus impudicus a mycological giant?
Mycologist, Volume 18, Part
2) Dimethyl oligosulphides, major volatiles released from Sauromatum guttatum and Phallus impudicus
BORG-KARLSON A.-K; ENGLUND F. O; UNELIUS C. R.
Phytochemistry, 1994, vol. 35, no2, pp. 321-323.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Friends In High Places & Homeopathy Packaging And Flu from Badscience
New regulations on licensing of homeopathy from Sense about Science see also: Malaria & homeopathy
A Quack's Charter (Lock & Load)
Reminder: things arenÂt so great in the UK, eitherÂ (Memoirs of a Skepchick)
Water Torture (Holmes Report Blog)
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I have written before about the very unusual genome of the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila, now its genome has been published in PLOS biology. The paper is free so everyone can read it for themselves. Tetrahymena has lead to many important discoveries in molecular biology such as catalytic RNA, telomeric repeats, telomerase and the function of histone acetylation. Lets hope the genome provides more insights into this fascinating organism and lead to more discoveries.
Eisen JA, Coyne RS, Wu M, Wu D, Thiagarajan M, et al. (2006)
Macronuclear Genome Sequence of the Ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila, a Model Eukaryote. PLoS Biol 4(9): e286
What's shaped like a pear and has two genomes? Check the pond (press release, Eurekalert)
Tetrahymena Genome Database
Tetrahymena Genome Project
Tetrahymena thermophila Genome Project (TIGR)
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Saturday, July 29, 2006
This reminded me that I had found the website of Paul Selden where he has kindly made available many of his publications on fossil spiders available: http://homepage.mac.com/paulselden/Home/index.html
MYGALOMORPH SPIDERS (ARANEAE: DIPLURIDAE) FROM THE LOWER CRETACEOUS CRATO LAGERSTÄTTE, ARARIPE BASIN, NORTH-EAST BRAZIL
by PAUL A. SELDEN, FABIO DA COSTA CASADO and MARISA VIANNA MESQUITA
Palaeontology Volume 49 Page 817 - July 2006
Abstract: The first mygalomorph spiders from the Lower Cretaceous Crato Lagerstätte of Cearà Province, north-east Brazil, are described, from adult males and females, in two new genera and species: Cretadiplura ceara Selden, gen. et sp. nov. and Dinodiplura ambulacra Selden, gen. et sp. nov. They belong to the extant family Dipluridae, hitherto known as fossils only from Tertiary strata; thus this occurrence extends the family record by some 90 myr.
See also: Santana Formation Fossils and my post: oldest orb weaving spider discovered
Friday, July 14, 2006
Moths' decline may herald crisis in UK biodiversity
"Conservationists are warning of an impending crisis in British biodiversity after recording dramatic countrywide declines in some of the most common moth species. Records spanning nearly four decades show two-thirds of the country's most popular moths are declining, amounting to about 220 separate species. Numbers of 71 species, more than a fifth of the total, have plummeted by a third in the past decade.
Ecologists at the government's agricultural institute, Rothamsted Research, in Hertfordshire, said the figures added to an already gloomy picture of British biodiversity, which has seen sharp declines in bumble bees and butterflies. Fears have now taken hold that the seemingly relentless loss of insects will have a knock-on effect on birdlife.
Researchers used a network of 95 light traps, most of which have been in place since 1968, to study populations of insects drawn to the glow of the traps' lamps.
The records show that some species, including the dusk thorn and hedge rustic, have declined by more than 90% in the past 35 years.A graph showing the decline in British moths (33%). This is an average, there was no significant change in the 'north' but a greater decline in the 'south' (44%) from (1).
"The thought that these species are declining so severely is shocking. You have to remember these are, or were, common species - they're not considered rare," said Kelvin Conrad, a population ecologist who led the study, which is due to appear in the journal Biological Conservation.
The researchers divided Britain into three sections by first drawing a horizontal line across the country at the level of the Humber river. They then split the southern regions with a line running down from the Pennines.
The scientists discovered that moths local to the south-east fared worst, suffering the most species declines.
In the north, far fewer species were threatened, but the populations of those that were fell spectacularly. The south-west, including Wales, Cornwall and Devon, had the most stable populations of moths.
Dr Conrad blames a general and widespread degradation of the moths' natural habitat for the bulk of the losses, but added that climate change, light pollution and farming practices had all taken their toll.
Studies of the garden tiger moth found that climate change, in the guise of warmer, wetter winters, had gradually forced the moths to retreat from the south-east to cooler territories.
Light pollution, a term used to describe night-time lighting from office blocks and roadside lamps, is thought to disrupt moths' behaviour, either by attracting them or by fooling them into thinking it is daytime.
The findings add to recent reports that nearly three-quarters of butterfly populations in Britain have crashed as their habitats have become damaged and fragmented.
"We have now got good data on moths and butterflies, and we know bumble bees are in trouble. All the studies now point to the same thing, that we are losing many of our insect species in Britain," said Dr Conrad.
Ecologists fear that if the decline in insects is widespread, bird populations will be next to be hit. In the past 100 years, three breeding bird species have disappeared from Britain, the Kentish plover, wryneck, and red-backed shrike.
A recent study from Stanford University concluded that some 10% of the world's bird population will have become extinct by the end of the century, with a further 15% close to the brink."
1) Rapid declines of common, widespread British moths provide evidence of an insect biodiversity crisis
Kelvin F. Conrad, Martin S. Warren, Richard Fox, Mark S. Parsons and Ian P. Woiwod
Volume 132, Issue 3 , October 2006, Pages 279-291
The State of Britain's Moths
Large-Scale Temporal Changes in Spatial Pattern During Declines of Abundance and Occupancy in a Common Moth
Kelvin F. Conrad Contact Information, Joe N. Perry, Ian P. Woiwod and Colin J. Alexander
Journal of Insect Conservation, Volume 10, Number 1, March 2006
Update: bootstrap-analysis has a post on extictions that mentions the moth study: 'sunday times: extinction, coming soon to a planet near you'
Thursday, July 13, 2006
The Ichnofossil Radulichnus
This links Kimberella very clearly to Odontogriphus and to later molluscs.
Trace fossils in the Ediacaran–Cambrian transition: Behavioral diversification, ecological turnover and environmental shift
Adolf Seilachera, Luis A. Buatoisb, and M. Gabriela Mángano
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology Volume 227, Issue 4 , 10 November 2005, Pages 323-356
Reconstruction of an unnamed dickinsoniid from (2)
The fossil on which the above reconstruction was based. Also from (2)
1) A soft-bodied mollusc with radula from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale p159
Jean-Bernard Caron, Amélie Scheltema, Christoffer Schander and David Rudkin
Nature 442, 159-163 (13 July 2006) doi:10.1038/nature04894
2) Anatomical Information Content in the Ediacaran Fossils and Their Possible Zoological Affinities
Integrative and Comparative Biology 2003 43(1):114-126; (free full text)