Nature Blog Network

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Words of Wisdom from a Clownfish

h/t to S.A.L.-P.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fun with Job Search

Job ads are fun!

"Ability to demonstrate proficiency in using state of the art instructional technology including Blackboard."
I think I can handle that one, am I hired? ;-)

The Makers of Sponge Bob Get It

Someone has been doing their homework... or reading my blog.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Spineless Song! - Giant Squid Breakdown

I've posted a new spineless song in the sidebar. I've got the details over at Deep Sea News!

Non-Paying, Time-Wasting Job Opportunity!

As you can all tell, things have been slow here at TO95. A lot of events have unfolded in my life, many changes which excite me. I won't go into all the details, but suffice it to say that after much soul-searching, goal-outlining, career-pondering I am finishing up my Masters degree in a couple months. This has been a fantastic decision for me, though very difficult. The roller-coaster of emotions is characterized by frustration, tears, several 2 hour conversations with my advisor involving raised voices (not necessarily yelling per se) and accusations, then reconciliation on both of our parts. The end result is I've decided to complete a Masters degree and will be graduating this June.

But the excitement of job searching and inquiring has reinvigorated the fervor in me. Never once during the 4 years I have been a graduate student did I ever stop to think of what I can do with a science degree and look around at the job ads. As may be apparent, my real passion is communicating and writing about science. It is almost as if it were a calling. It has consumed me in the last year. So that is the area of employment I am seeking.

I have also starting working on a book. More details will follow about that. Additionally, I'm pitching story ideas to popular science magazines, hoping to land some work, in addition to blogging over at Deep Sea News. I very much enjoy working with Craig and Peter there and have devoted much more energy to that endeavor than I have here at The Other 95%, this blog that I have nurtured and developed on my own and am quite proud of.

The readership (you guys) are wonderful, have always been so supportive and its been a lot of fun. I really don't want to see this blog and its mission to promote invertebrates fall by the wayside. There is not much on the web like it. I also want to increase my readership, engage in more serious reporting and less personal miscellanea, and become the leading authority for invertebrate news and views on the web.

I am putting out a call for a co-blogger. It is a non-paying job but will undoubtedly be fun. Ideally, this person will have intimate knowledge of invertebrates and is interested in writing stories on marine, terrestrial and freshwater species. You will have free reign. I will not moderate content but ask to restrict the use of cursory words. I would love to get at least 3 posts a week, more is up to you. This site is becoming increasingly popular so you will get lots of exposure for your writing. One article from this blog has been published in dead tree format. Professionals approach me with their papers, news releases, ideas and websites if that is telling of what this weblog has become.

If you are interested, please email me at kzelnio{at}gmail{dot}com with a sentence or two on your background and why you want to blog at TO95. If you are already a blogger, you are welcome to either merge your blog with mine or try keeping 2 blogs (its not the easiest thing to do). If you are not a blogger, feel free to send me a short example of your writing. I look forward to hearing from anyone interested in promoting invertebrates!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sea Cucumbers Insire Brain Implant

Whenever I need a source of inspiration, I turned to an invertebrate too!

BBC reports:

"The response of a startled sea cucumber has inspired a new material that could one day be used to build brain implants for patients with Parkinson's disease.


The new material mimics this ability, and could be used to make advanced brain electrodes which are stiff when implanted, yet supple inside the body.

Adding water changes the state of the material."

Of course, the title of the BBC article states that these are sea slugs, but we all know that sea slugs and sea cucumbers are different phyla (right?). Here is how it works:
"The structure of the as yet un-named material mimics the skin of sea cucumbers which have collagen nanofibres embedded in a soft connective tissue.

"These creatures can reversibly and quickly change the stiffness of their skin," explained Dr Jeffrey Capadona, another member of the team.

"Normally it is very soft; but for example in response to a threat, the animal can activate its 'body armour' by hardening its dermis."
Check out the article for how this all relates to the brain and for some nice picture of marine inverts!

Hat tip to CK.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Work with an Invert! - Postdoc in Sabellidae (Annelida, Polychaeta) Biogeography

Awesome opportunity for anyone interested in sabellids!

Pat Hutchings would like to inform all polychaete-workers of the following opportunity:

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW – POLYCHAETA. Scientific Officer, Grade 2. Temporary full-time Position No. TMP596/08. Total remuneration package valued at up to $78,951 p.a, including salary ($64,827– $71,546), employers contribution to superannuation and annual leave loading.

Responsible for systematic and biogeographic research on the Sabellida clade, describing new taxa and undertaking phylogenetic studies using morphological and molecular data. within the Siboglinids, Oweniids and Sabellids.

Selection Criteria: PhD degree in marine science with detailed taxonomic knowledge of Sabellida and publishing experience in the group. Experience in molecular biology, scanning electron microscopy, and developing interactive keys. An ability to undertake fieldwork. Well developed written and oral communication skills. Experience in the use of analytical computer programs. Ability to undertake independent research.

Job Notes:

This is a postdoctoral fellowship opportunity, jointly funded by the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) and the Australian Museum. Additional funds will be available for laboratory, travel and field expenses. The intention of this Fellowship is to build the Australian taxonomic capacity within key groups. This is a temporary position with appointment/employment under Section 24, 27 or 86 of the Public Sector Employment and Management 2002 for a period of up to three (3) years

Inquiries: Dr Brian Lassig on (02) 9320 6297 or email brian[dot]lassig[at]austmus[dot]gov[dot]au

Closing date: 30 April 2008

Please visit Australian Museum - Positions Vacant for full job details including selection criteria, inquiries contact and the position description.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday Toon

Saw this on a friend's facebook page.

Snail Dribble Post Follow-Up

So in my gmail there are (of course) Google Ads. When I received Mike's comment these were my targeted ads.

The irony of it all... *sigh* The blanket one is so random!

Early Humans Knew How to Pahty Pahty

From CNN, a bit old in blog years but I like it:

"In one of the earliest hints of "modern" living, humans 164,000 years ago put on primitive makeup and hit the seashore for steaming mussels, new archaeological finds show.

Curtis Marean examines a section of cave at Pinnacle Point, South Africa.

Call it a beach party for early man.

But it's a beach party thrown by people who weren't supposed to be advanced enough for this type of behavior. What was found in a cave in South Africa may change how scientists believe Homo sapiens marched into modernity.


Researchers found three hallmarks of modern life at Pinnacle Point overlooking the Indian Ocean near South Africa's Mossel Bay: harvested and cooked seafood, reddish pigment from ground rocks, and early tiny blade technology. Scientific optical dating techniques show that these hallmarks were from 164,000 years ago, plus or minus 12,000 years."
Tiny blade technology? lol Early research program in palaeonanotech!

Got Bad Skin? Throw Some Snail Dribble On It!

"The dribble of snail contains: allantoin, glicolic acid, collagen, eslatin, proteins, antibiotics and natural vitamins."
Wow! A bunch of smart sciencey sounding words! It must work miracles.
"The studies have verified that the dribble of snail allows to prevent and to eliminate wrinkles, to attenuate grooves, to eliminate scars caused for wounded and burns of first degree, to remove the acne, to clean spots produced by the sun. It has also demonstrated to be effective to eliminate warts of the skin."
The "studies" not cited on the website? This stuff is being heavily marketed in Latin American countries. Here is a video for evidence (in spanish).

I love the fact that the actresses are sniffing the stuff and have such a pleased look on their face. It warms the heart of this invertebrate biologist to see gastropodal byproducts enjoyed by the masses. I have some mussel pseudofeces that is *proven* to be an excellent exfoliator! Contact me with your credit card info for more!

I am curious though what species they are using, is it just one species or will any snail do? Only terrestrial snails have been found in my web-analysis, are marine snails lacking one of the active ingredients listed above? Its funny what people put on themselves. Oh, and you can buy it with aloe too! Actually, I'm not sure their ad even makes sense in spanish "special wrinkles repairing cellular"??? Did I translate that incorrectly?

Please think before you buy into these snake-oil salesmen. And look out for my favorite women's beauty product ingredient: Urea or Uric Acid. Its piss baby! Which is acidic and often has the reverse effect of irritating skin...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Oekologie XV: Reflections at the Capital

Freshly returned from a trip to Washington D.C. with my family (in case you were wondering why blogging has been nonexistent), here is the 15th edition of the blog carnival on ecology and the environment!

Hanging with my main man George Mason, author of the Bill of Rights.

The capital is an amazing place. It was my first time there and I was duly impressed by the monuments, museums and old architecture. 'Old' being a relative term for this young country, but I am used to the newer, more suburban look of the midwest and west coast. Being in the capital gave me a sense of excitement that I hadn't felt elsewhere. This is where big decisions are made, for better or worse, and great thinkers are working to solve important problems in our country and the rest of the world.

There is no shortage of environmental problems. For instance, Tim Abbott describes a new fungal outbreak that threatens populations of bats in the northeastern U.S. Jennifer talks about new research that claims manmade Lake Mead, on the Nevada-Arizona border, will go dry due to the effects of climate change. GrrlScientist discusses some negative consequences of deep-sea bottom trawling and causes of oceanic dead zones off the coast of Oregon. Phil for Humanity suggests that the answer may lie in "terraforming the Earth", or making the earth more habitable to life as it once was. Greg Laden suggests that very large parks will be the wave of the future. Are these the answer? Do they address the issues at hand or are they counter-productive?

In front of the Smithsonian castle with the kids (in stroller)

But the history of natural history is young in this time. During Darwin's time, while he was picking the heads off bugs and contemplating the ecology of insects, as explained by Greg Laden, the United States was still struggling to set up a capital and unite the former colonies under a common set of laws. The 1830s saw the money by one mysterious englishman, James Smithson, for the founding of an "institution for the diffusion of knowledge among men" in the U.S. The politicians argued for some time about how to use this new found wealth ($500,000 - a fortune at that time for the juvenile U.S.). In fact, one Arkansas senator had embezzled the funds for use in his state for several years. Thanks to the efforts of John Quincy Adams, the funds were restored, but still arguments remained about what sort of "diffusion of knowledge" benefited the american people. Certainly basic science and natural history were not a priority as all current research was done with a strictly utilitarian purpose. Wildlife and their habitat was destroyed to make way for growth. The wolves were hunted nearly to extinction out of fear and for protection of livestock. As Jean Mosher relays to us, it is only very recently the gray wolf was delisted from the United States' endangered species list. Lets hope this is not premature.

In other ecological news, Matt Mendenhall describes the palaeoecology of the forgotten, flightless seaduck of California (see image on left, source: Wikimedia commons). Ed Yong translates some new research on the trophic effects of introduced rats on islands. Controlling invasives is never an easy task, there are many confounding factors. John Beetham reports on the potential for the univoltine root mining weevils to control the invasive pervasive garlic mustard. Lets hope the biocontrol agent does not itself become a pest to other native plants.Finally, its the Year of the Frog! Jennifer tells us about FrogWatch. Spring is coming upon us in the north and I am anxious to take my son out and go frog hunting!

Thats it for this carnival. Stay tuned to Oekologie for information about future editions and sign up to host an edition yourself! Edition XVI will be hosted at the Evangelical Ecologist.

E and I chilling out with F.D.R., contemplating the wise words of one of the greatest, if not the greatest american president. I highly recommend visiting the Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial if in D.C. It is amazing how his words more than 60 years ago still ring true today. Engraving reads: "They (who) seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers... call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order."

Friday, March 7, 2008

Learn Your Hymenoptera!

Just to remind you, Dominican Republic is in the Caribbean. Its tropical. There's beaches. And island drinks. Oh yeah, lots of insects too!

A Hymenoptera Identification course will be held in Dominican Republic during 7-14 September 2008. The instructors are:

Dr. Michael Sharkey - University of Kentucky
Dr. Michael Gates - USDA-ARS Systematic Entomology Lab
Dr. Matthew Buffington - USDA-ARS Systematic Entomology Lab
Dr. James Pitts - Utah State University
Dr. Robert Kula - USDA-ARS Systematic Entomology Lab
Dr. Lubomir Masner - Canadian National Collection of INsects
Dr. David Wahl - American Entomological Institute

For more detail please go to

Work with an Invert - Professorship in Systematics Entomology

Harold E. and Leona M. Rice Professorship in Systematic Entomology

Applications are invited for the Rice Professorship in Systematic Entomology. This is a full-time, 9-month tenured position at the Full Professor level in the Department of Zoology. The holder of the chair is expected to be a midcareer to senior scholar with an international reputation for scholarship and a distinguished record of funding, publication, and teaching in systematic entomology. The Rice Professor will participate in teaching, graduate education, and serve as Director of the Oregon State Arthropod Collection (OSAC), a major research collection with 3 million specimens. The appointment also includes annual discretionary funds of approximately $100,000 to support the research and teaching programs of the Rice Professor, with approximately one-third to be spent in support of the functions of the OSAC. It is expected that the Rice Professor will continue to be a productive scholar and teacher, participate fully in departmental affairs, contribute to the study of systematic entomology at Oregon State University, and take a leadership role in the local systematics community. The Rice Professor should possess broad disciplinary interests and welcome collaborative research with colleagues across the university and beyond. For additional requirements and to apply see Posting #0002193. For full consideration apply by 15 July 2008. Direct inquires to Tara Bevandich at bevandit{at}science{dot} or Rice Search Committee Chair, Stevan J. Arnold at arnolds{at}science{dot}

OSU is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer has a policy of being responsive to dual-career needs.