Nature Blog Network

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Blogging Without Backbone

Hello, World!

I wish to thank Kevin for taking this chance on adding me to The Other 95% and I will be careful. He assed me to keep the cussin' down, and I think I can cooperate on the occasions I contribute here. Sure.

My main blog is at Tangled Up in Blue Guy, and Kevin has been good enough to give me some positive feedback when I have written about those fauna who don't need no steenking backbone. I have been talking to Greg Laden about finishing up my degree the University of Minnesota with non-traditional program based on science writing and science journalism. This will be my practice site, and I hope to be treated mercilessly.

Just so you can get a sampling on what I have done I'll link to one of my favorite posts from Tangled Up in Blue Guy, "Lighting the Phylogenetic Tree." Heres's an excerpt:

We are naturally anthropomorphic and anthropocentric. In the Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins refers to the biological arms race as an analogy to demonstrate one way in which natural selection works. It is not perfect, but the metaphor illustrates the point in a way that we can relate to our own societies and national struggles for survival. The angler jellyfish have survived for so long because they evolved a deceptive strategy that works, and keeps them ahead, at least for now, in the arms race.

And still, the question remains. What advantage does red luminescence afford the angler jellyfish? It may have something to do with what seems to be its preferred breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cyclothones are likely the most common vertebrate on the planet (sorry, anthropocentrics!) but the question remains on cyclothones as to why they would be among the few fish at that deep dark level to develop the ability to see red. They are hard to study because they are incredibly fragile and hard to capture without killing them. One possibility is that a form of chlorophyll which produces red coloration is quite common in the ocean, so the ability to see red poses a distinct feeding advantage for cyclothones.

Listen, I know that jellies aren't fish. I say "sea stars" when appropriate instead of starfish. I haven't figured out how to get comfortable with referring to jellyfish without conceding to the chordatist bias. I'll work on it.

Thanks again, Kevin!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Yeah, some people have taken to calling them "sea jellies" - I'm not so sure 'bout that one personally.

    Congrats on the first post!

  3. Thanks, Eric.

    I am starting to wonder about cuttlefish, too. Do I need to refer to them as "sea cuttles?"

    I just want to get it right.

  4. I don't know... I still call them cuttlefish usually, but "cuttles" almost as often in informal talk. The only rule I enforce on myself for both jellies and cuttles, is however I do it I stay consistent in that document or talk or whatever.


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