Nature Blog Network

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Linnaeus' Legacy #4: Darwin Month Extravaganza!

"the economy of nature"

species are "alloted places" in nature

"everyone's war against everyone"

These were concepts familiar to Darwin by the time he wrote On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. They influenced his thinking are solidified within his writings. Yet, these are not Darwin's own words, nor his own ideas. Other's works weighed heavily on Charles Darwin from Thomas Malthus and Gilbert White to Charles Lyell and William Paley. The words, or ideas, are none of their own as well. These words and concepts belong to Carolus Linnaeus, the namesake of this carnival and founder of taxonomy.

Linnaeus had a very ecological view on organisms and their place in nature. He was particular interested in reproduction and had a vivid imagery associated with writings when describing bisexual plants. "Nine men in the bride's chamber, with one woman" describes the 9 stamens surrounding a singular pistil on a flower. Erasmus Darwin, Charles' grandather, was similarly vivid and poetic. Darwin apparently read translations of Oeconomia Naturae and Politia Naturae in the 1840s, though I am not sure if he read the Systema, but he certainly would have been aware of it and followed Linnaeus' taxonomic guidelines. This month brings you posts in the traditions of Linnaeus and Darwin.
Deep Sea News reports on the discovery of an entirely new order of fish.
"Tube-eye is a strange fish indeed. It possesses a pair of telescopic eyes that lie anteriorly when not feeding. During feeding, the head is oriented up and back and the mouth is moved forward. The mouth cavity is balloonable and can greatly expand its size (38X). This creates negative pressure and provides suction for capturing prey."
In true linnaean fashion, the Systema Brachyurom is out!! An amazing reference for identifying every brachyuran, or true crab, IN. THE. WORLD. Can't plug this one enough! I've already downloaded it (its open access!!!) and flipped through it. It is well put together with clear photos to aid in identification. Check it out for free courtesy of the Raffles Museum in Singapore.

10,000 Birds has an interview with David Ringer, creator of Birdstack. Find about more about the bird listing website that has the "potential to become the web standard for listing". Mike also encourages bloggers who discuss natural history and ecology to register their blogs on the Nature Blogs Network.

What are the mysteries of the platypus? Oh let me count the ways... A 3lb Monkey Brain describes how the fossil record elucidates this mystery, it might not be the one your thinking of. Browse his blog for my systematic fun!

The Catalogue of Organisms reports on breaking news that will Shock and Awe™ the genetics world. Should Drosophila melangaster be maintained despite obvious paraphyly?? Or should it become the wine-cellar fly of Linnaeus? Or will the evil geneticists win because of their laziness to accept the rules of nomenclature?

A character analysis of moray eels is discussed over Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice and Sunset. Every Monday, Rick discusses a species on moray eel on his series That's a Moray Monday. Its turning out to be a online field guide! He hints at a cool new species of Moray for the next Monday's edition so stay tuned to the blogdial.

John Lynch tells us that a new beetle is named after Roy Orbison and giant elephant shrew was recently described. Laelaps also talks about the Grey-Faced Sengi in more detail. Pondering Pikaia picks up on this amazing discovery too. While at Living the Scientific Life, a new subspecies of bird was discovered in Nepal and a giganormous rodent found in New York City modern day Uruguay.

Greg Laden discusses the ascent of cat breeds (with a hilarious LOLcats to boot). In thinking about the number of species of flies (not cats), The Questionable Authority has a quiz about "How many different species should these three populations be grouped in, and why?" Tune in on Monday to find out the answer!

Finally, last year Darren Naish at Tetrapod Zoology helped to blow the whistle on inappropriate activity in the field of palaeontology. Mike Taylor has the latest from Aetogate. Darren updates us on this issue and the press it has received. Christopher at the Catalogue asks what would the ICZN do about the issue? Adventures in Ethics and Science discusses the ethical ramifications of this and then explains why the "is this really that important?" attitude is detrimental, then wonders which field of science has the most integrity problems. Additional coverage is provided by The Ethical Palaeontologist, Cryptomundo, Dinochick Blogs, Laelaps, Gene Expression, The Open Source Palaeontologist, Slashdot, One Big Lab, A Blog Around the Clock, All My Faults Are Stress-Related, Dinochick again, Palaeoblog, A Three-Pound Monkey Brain, Stephen Sorrell, The Reptipage. As you can see, this is a very important issue and each blog offers their unique perspective on this and the support for ethics in taxonomy and palaeontology is overwhelming.


  1. As a grad student in brachyuran systematics the the Systema Brachyurom is quite exciting, but for my group the revisions have lead to no small amount of crustacean frustration

  2. Hi A, thanks for leaving a comment. I am totally stoked about the Systema Brachyurom as well. I only really work with true crabs in the family Bythograeidae, which inhabit hydrothermal vents. But I think the layout is wonderful and if there clades that are in heavy need of revision, this at least pools all the information together in a central document which is valuable in and of itself!

    Glad to see some crusties at The Other 95%! (btw i love the phrase crustacean fustration, I heard it spoke once by a sub pilot when trying to collect the deep sea anomuran Paralomis hirtella with a submersible's mechanical arm. It took about 20 min. - the cool thing? Turned out to be infected with a rhizocephalan that hasn't been found in collections for a while. DNA score! 2 for the price of one!)

  3. Kevin, you are a carnival machine. How do you do it?

  4. Wow a deep sea rhizochephalan?! How cool is that!


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