Nature Blog Network

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Tangled Bank #90

Welcome to The Other 95%, a blog devoted to our spineless animal brethren. An appreciation of the underappreciated majority of animal life. The title of my blog refers to the fact that while Invertebrate animals make up 95% of the animal kingdom, they barely receive 5% of the coverage and consideration by the public, media, certain scientists, etc. While vertebrates (particularly furry ones and crocodilians) receive 95% of the attention while making up just 5% of all animals. Please have a look around my blog! I have two weekly features. The first being an Invert-a-toon every Tuesday. The second being a Spineless Song put out every Friday or Saturday, highlighting a particular invertebrate of interest. Check out the Spineless Songs sidebar on the right and keep checking back for all the news and views concerning the Invertebrates!


Bora at A Blog Around the Clock discusses an open access (of course!) article from PLoS ONE on the effects of Oxytocin on the circadian timing of birth.

Get to know a cell structure with Dan at Migrations! I'll give you a hint: I ain't 'actin' when I say I love this post.

The Aspen Health Conference was just last week, so get the details on the conference at the Sharp Brains blog. Don't forget that to be happier, cells that fire together, wire together!

Ecology and Environmental Science

The rise of miljöbil, or environmentally friendly car, in Sweden has generated a bit of controversy and irony at Paddy K's blog.
"You could just as well call a Nuclear submarine “environmentally friendly” by including a hundred sets of oars and suggesting that the crew could, if they wanted to, row the thing home."
The Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog notes new strategies for improving rice yield why working in a rice paddy requires having "feet of clay".

Coral reefs are under threat in OZ, Planet Doom gives us the low-down.

Ever wondered how much plumage a wood duck could chuck if a wood duck could chuck plumage? Head over to 10000 Birds and learn about Eclipse plumage in my favorite mallard, Aix sponsa.

Life is tough in the city, other birds don't have to worry about traffic and noise, but GrrlScientist reports on new research confirming that city birds are more tougher than their country counterparts.

Medicine and Disease Biology

At a Mad Tea-Party, the Mad Hatter describes the Dengue Fever virus as a trojan horse and discusses possible vaccination strategies.

Ouroboros give us an example of mutations during mismatch repair and telomere maintenance can actually improve survival in research mice.

It came from outer space! Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science reports on new research on the creation of super virulent strains of Salmonella from zero gravity in space. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumor Disease is a serious affliction facing these already endangered animals, threatening them with extinction. Joe Dunckley of has the story.

Evolutionary Biology

Has artificial life been created by the Venter gang? Greg Laden analyzes the evidence and writes poetically on the analogy between building a 1977 Mustang and building life. Perhaps he has read Rowland 1968 "Evolution of the MG" (Nature 217: 240-242)?

GrrlScientist examines the behavioral genetics of sociality in wasps.

Over at the Pharyngula, PZ Myers shares with us his vast knowledge of Evo-Devo in explaining the evolution of mammalian molars.


GrrlScientist describes some fascinating new research hinting that Velociraptor may have had feathers and discusses whether social behavior or ornamentation evolved first in Ceratotopsian dinosaurs (i.e. Triceratops) from some newly described fossils in that paleo wonderland, China.

My own contribution this issue discusses another new fossil find out China, a crustacean from the lower Cambrian pushes back Arthropod origins a little further.

Archaeology and Anthropology

So you want to be a bison dentist? Get a head start by learning about the paleopathology of bison enamel at Archaeozoology.

Martin Rundkvist of Aardvarchaeology enlightens us about a medieval soapstone quarry in Norway.

The Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog links archaeology and human and livestock genetics.

On Science, Politics and Being a Scientist

Sunil at Balancing Life has what I feel is required reading for all scientists on the value of failure.

At VXWYNot? there is an intriguing report of a study on the increase of left-handedness over the last 150+ years using some rather unconventional methods (remember how we teach our Freshman students not to cite Wikipedia as a source...)

Mike Haubrich educates us on why adult stem cells are not interchangable with embryonic stem cells. Hopefully politicians on 'The Hill' are reading the Tangled Up In Blue blog.

Joe Dunckley at writes thoroughly on how technology will change peer-review as we know it.

That's it for the 90th edition of the Tangled Bank. Keep tuned in 2 weeks for #91 at The Radula!


  1. Invertebrates only 95% of the animal kingdom? Even assuming that's counting the number of species rather than the number of actual animals, that sounds low to me. What about all the insect species in the rainforests? I thought there were untold millions of them waiting to be discovered.

    A quick check in Wikipedia says 97%, but I was thinking of a bigger difference than that. Are both counts just including discovered species? There's obviously a logical problem with including the others, but it seems reasonable to hypothesise that vertebrates are proportionally more thoroughly catalogued than invertebrates.

  2. Thanks for adding my entry, it's quite an honor.

    There's some interesting stuff here.

  3. jonecc, That was the estimate when I was an undergrad years ago. Really, we are just trying to let vertebrate biologists feel good about themselves with that 5%. Its a nice even number. And it is by number of species, not individuals, which of course would obliterate vertebrates into a tiny corner in the tail of the distribution.

    There are not only untold millions of insects in rain forests waiting to be discovered but untold millions of marine invertebrates in the deep sea and even in coral reefs. Every ecosystem on earth has millions of inverts waiting to be discovered and described. This reflects, in part, the lack of taxonomic specialists in some groups, such as Cnidaria and Nematoda and much of the "minor phyla". You only need to open up the latest issue of Zootaxa, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington or any in-house museum publication to gauge the diversity of new spineless taxa being described from any nook and cranny. For instance, Vietnam is a current hotspot for finding new terrestrial species, while in the ocean coral reefs surrounding smaller Pacific islands are being explored and hold a wealth of new species and geographic range extensions.

    And yes, verts are more well catalogued, although several fish species are always turning up. The ocean is a big place after all.

  4. Interesting article , you make some interesting points.

    Bank directory


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