Slate’s article about this past week’s debate —Town Hall Deemed a Contest of Alpha Males— (the pundits used the term alpha males) debunks the term as sexist and outmoded, scientifically, and references the original researcher’s website.  L. David Mech notes that this goes back to research done in the 60’s and we now know FAR MORE about wolf biology.

(via Wolf News and Info - L. David Mech)


This is a photo stack of 10 images showing apple cells stained with toluidine solution. The cell walls are pink, lignin is purple and pectin is green.




The video from the article: Fundamental gap in fundamental biology

ISSN 1993-6842. Biopolymers and Cell. 2011. Vol. 27. N 3. P. 235–245

and yes, i’m one of the authors ^_^ of that 


Giraffe Weevil

from wikipedia:

When it comes time to breed, the mother-to-be will roll and secure a leaf of the host plant… and then lay a single egg within the tube. She will then snip the roll from the remaining leaf in preparation of the egg hatching.


Why some seconds seem to last forever

Though our perception of time can be stunningly precise — given a beat to keep, professional drummers are accurate within milliseconds — it can also be curiously plastic. Some moments seem to last longer than others, and scientists don’t know why.

Unlike our other senses, our perception of time has no defined location in our brain, making it difficult to understand and study. But now researchers have found hints that our sense of time stems from specialized units in our brain, channels of neurons tuned to signals of certain time lengths.

“We know keeping track of time is incredibly important, it allows us to coordinate movements, interpret body language,” said optometrist James Heron of the University of Bradford in the UK, lead author of the study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Aug. 10. “We know the brain does this routinely and accurately, but we’re not sure how. Our evidence strongly suggests the presence of neural units in the brain that are tuned to different durations.”


a cluster of rapidly dividing cells


The Living Planet - Episode 06: The Baking Deserts

The next instalment explores the world of deserts. It begins in the largest, the Sahara, where the highest land temperatures have been recorded. Rock paintings depict creatures such as giraffes and antelopes, suggesting that at one point there was enough vegetation to support them. Now, such life has all but disappeared, with the exception of the cypress, whose roots find water deep underground. Since the night brings low temperatures, many of the creatures that live there are nocturnal. They include Fennec Foxes, geckos, jerboas and caracals. A scorpion is shown fighting a black widow spider. During the day, the desert belongs to the reptiles, which rely on the sun to warm their bodies. The Sonoran Desert is home to the Gila monster, one of the two poisonous lizards. By mid-afternoon, it’s so hot that even reptiles must escape the sun’s rays. However, some birds have developed methods for keeping cool. The sandgrouse evaporates moisture by fluttering its throat, while the road runner also uses its tail as a parasol. Plants that are best adapted to the habitat are the creosote bush and cacti, of which the saguaro is one of the biggest. The nomadic Tuareg people cross the Sahara from one side to the other - but can’t do so unaided. They rely on the camel for transportation, as much as it needs them to periodically dig for water. Despite this, it is one of the best adapted desert animals: it can go without water for ten times as long as a man.

Producer: BBC, Andrew Neal, David Attenborough (presenter)


Mimivirus infected with Sputnik virophage

The virophage Sputnik interferes with the DNA replication of the host virus by “eating” it.

Cancers Are Newly Evolved Parasitic Species, Biologist Argues

Cancer patients may feel like they have alien creatures or parasites growing inside their bodies, robbing them of health and vigor. According to one cell biologist, that’s exactly right. The formation of cancers is really the evolution of a new parasitic species.

Just as parasites do, cancer depends on its host for sustenance, which is why treatments that choke off tumors can be so effective. Thanks to this parasite-host relationship, cancer can grow however it wants, wherever it wants. Cancerous cells do not depend on other cells for survival, and they develop chromosome patterns that are distinct from their human hosts, according to Peter Duesberg, a molecular and cell biology professor at the University of California-Berkeley. As such, they’re novel species.

He argues that the prevailing theories of carcinogenesis, or cancer formation, are wrong. Rather than springing from a few genetic mutations that spur cells to grow at an uncontrolled pace, cancerous tumors grow from a disruption of entire chromosomes, he says. Chromosomes contain many genes, so mis-copies, breaks and omissions lead to tens of thousands of genetic changes. The result is a cell with completely new traits: A new phenotype.

Cancer as evolution in action, which represents a fundamental re-thinking of the disease, has been proposed before — evolutionary biologist Julian S. Huxley first described autonomously growing tumors as a new species back in 1956, according to a Cal news release. But the prevailing view has long been that cancer is the result of genetic mutations.

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FEI Owner Image contest (2/3) - “The roots of an offshoot from a cactus plant.”