Monogamouse Prairie voles have many vasopressin receptors in the reward centres of their brains. It seems as though these are wired up in a way that causes the animal to take pleasure from monogamy.
posted by kliuless
on Jan 9, 2010 -
Carl Zimmer on the duck's incredibly long, corkscrew-shaped, ballistic penis.
My tale is rich with deep scientific significance, resplendent with surprising insights into how evolution works, far beyond the banalities of “survival of the fittest,” off in a realm of life where sexual selection and sexual conflict work like a pair sculptors drunk on absinthe, transforming biology into forms unimaginable. But this story is also accompanied with video. High-definition, slow-motion duck sex video. And I would imagine that the sight of spiral-shaped penises inflating in less than a third of second might be considered in some quarters to be not exactly safe for work. It’s certainly not appropriate for ducklings.
[As Carl says, video links are possibly NSFW.] [more inside]
posted by chorltonmeateater
on Dec 23, 2009 -
Cracking the Cancer Code:
We already know that all cancers are caused by DNA mutations acquired during a person's lifetime. But what mutations actually cause cancer? We may be one step closer to finding out. International research teams led by the Cancer Genome Project at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have now mapped
the entire genetic code
of two of the most common human cancers: lung and skin (malignant melanoma).
Their findings have the potential
to revolutionize preventative and treatment therapies as well as pave the way for new early detection tests. More
. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Dec 17, 2009 -
The Polar Discovery
team has documented science in action from pole to pole during the historic 2007-2009 International Polar Year, and covered five scientific expeditions
. The science projects explored a range of topics from climate change and glaciers, to Earth’s geology, biology, ocean chemistry, circulation, and technology at the icy ends of the earth. Through photo essays
and other multimedia
, they explain how scientists collected data and what they discovered about the rapidly changing polar regions. From the awesome folks at WHOI
posted by netbros
on Nov 9, 2009 -
The amazing story of the coelacanth
is one of the wonders of the living world that inspires marine biologists such myself. Coelacanths, part of the offshoot lineage of fishes known as "lobed finned ", are very different from typical "ray finned" fishes that you usually think of. Their bizarre lobed fins
are thought to be an intermediate step between fish fins and amphibian legs. Scientists had known that these weird fish existed because of fossils for over a century, but we believed that they went extinct 65 million years ago... until a South African fisherman caught one in 1938. [more inside]
posted by WhySharksMatter
on Sep 7, 2009 -
An Outsider's View
"Over the past fifty years, factions of biologists have had a complex relationship. Some scientists have continued to carry out relatively traditional natural history work, with little need to delve into molecular (or computational) biology. Others have given little attention to natural history, focusing their efforts instead on deciphering the complexities of a membrane channel, or building new algorithms for identifying open reading frames. In some cases, biologists have bridged this divide, and the result has been a fruitful collaboration. But in other cases—such as the DNA studies on whales and hippos—one group moves into the other's traditional territory, sparking new conflict."[via
posted by dhruva
on Jul 22, 2009 -
DNA Not The Same In Every Cell Of Body.
"...calls into question one of the most basic assumptions of human genetics: that when it comes to DNA, every cell in the body is essentially identical to every other cell... if it turns out that blood and tissue cells do not match genetically, these ambitious and expensive genome-wide association studies may prove to have been essentially flawed from the outset"
posted by GuyZero
on Jul 16, 2009 -
By popular demand, your new resident marine biology nerd has compiled some cool information about the Giant Pacific Octopus.The Giant Pacific Octopus (Octopus dofleini
) is one of the strangest animals in the sea- and one of the smartest. Though it is commonly believed that vertebrates are always "smarter" than invertebrates, these guys defy that convention. As this video shows
, they are able to easily open jars and retrieve food from inside. They are also, as the "Giant" implies, enormous
- the biggest one on record was 30 feet across (according to National Geographic
) [more inside]
posted by WhySharksMatter
on Jul 6, 2009 -
The Village Dog Project
is an ongoing
research project to document genetic diversity in pariah dogs. These dogs haven't been subject to breed pressure, and may be able to help researchers learn more
about the transition from wolf to dog. (via
posted by Pants!
on Jun 23, 2009 -
Imagine nature's most elegant ideas organized by design and engineering function, so you can enter "filter salt from water" and see how mangroves, penguins, and shorebirds desalinate without fossil fuels. That's the idea behind AskNature
, the online inspiration source for the biomimicry
community. The featured pages
are a good starting point. Cross-pollinating biology with design. [more inside]
posted by netbros
on Jun 5, 2009 -
Timepieces! Ancient calendars, ancient clocks, beautiful clocks
, atomic clocks and the clocks built into your brain that determine how you perceive time and form memories. All the good stuff is inside: [more inside]
posted by metaBugs
on May 18, 2009 -
Why is the penis shaped like that? [T]he human penis is actually an impressive “tool” in the truest sense of the word, one manufactured by nature over hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution. You may be surprised to discover just how highly specialized a tool it is. Furthermore, you’d be amazed at what its appearance can tell us about the nature of our sexuality.
posted by hippybear
on May 5, 2009 -
Why would an evolutionary biologist study words? It turns out there is an astonishing parallel
between the evolution of words in a lexicon and the evolution of genes in an organism. The word two
, for example, has been around much longer than most, and will likely be with us for millennia, whereas the comparatively rare and recent word dirty
has undergone many mutations, and will probably be extinct in a few hundred years. Professor Mark Pagel
, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading, UK, tells us why on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's program As It Happens
. Pull slider to 16:00 to start the seven minute interview
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium
on Mar 7, 2009 -
Sparks of Life.
"That the electric 'spark of life' figured prominently in debates over the nature of life in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is well known. Less well known is the fact that prior to this period, gunpowder was often identified with the substances that were necessary to life, if not as a vitalistic spirit, then as an essential element in the animation of the body. The idea of a spark of life went back to ancient times, likening living beings to the glowing embers of a fire. In the Old Testament, for example, the wise woman of Tekoah begs for the life of her son, pleading 'they will stamp out my last live ember.' But from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, this vital flame was often equated with gunpowder. There was fire in the blood: not electric, but pyrotechnic fire."
posted by homunculus
on Feb 20, 2009 -
Music is a human universal, but why did we evolve a desire to create, perform, and enjoy it? From a biological standpoint, does it contribute to survival or, more likely, mate selection and reproduction?
posted by rocket88
on Feb 13, 2009 -
"This is a regular Russian school biology textbook owned by some Russian school. He has modified some illustrations
so now it’s hard to say sometimes what was there originally and what has appeared as a result of his imagination."
posted by squalor
on Feb 12, 2009 -