Nature Blog Network

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bud Light + Clamato

From Manoeuvre Bored:

"Oh, and it tastes like a mollusk's metanephridium. Yummy."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Meet Radula

Only because Bug Girl did it and then Miriam did it. So naturally I had to create the defender of the spineless. Meet Radula, Destroyer of Backbones! Created in consultation with wifey using HeroMachine 2.5. His trusty sidekick is Salty the Jumping Spider.

Who's got the oldest?

In my post about harvestmen, I mentioned the ancient fossilized penis found in 2003, that dated back 400 - 412 million years ago. Unfortunately, I forgot the Dec, 2003 publishing of an even older specimen of male genitals. In Herefordshire England, 425 mya, an ostracod was buried in volcanic ash during the Silurian Period and quickly mineralized, preserving even the soft tissues.

Originally in Science: 10.1126/science.302.5651.1645

Colymbosathon eclecticos, Greek for "Amazing swimmer with a large penis", could easily be mistaken for a modern ostracod, so similar is the morphology. Like the harvestman example before, this indicates a group with a basic body plan (and even much of the detail) that has shown very little change over a 400+ million year period. Ostracods are well known in the fossil record back to about 500 mya. From this find they have been relatively stable for almost the entire time.

It also shows two examples (one terrestrial, one marine) of male copulatory organs from the late Silurian–early Devonian periods. In the ostracod this is especially interesting as it extends the identification of specific gender in a group that is very common in the fossil record, but for which previous gender identification was only to the Cretaceous Period (65–145 mya).

Not to leave the lady inverts out, where there is a male copulatory organ there hopefully can be found a receptive female. It took the same team a few years to process and publish the finding of a female ostracod from the same area, known as the Herefordshire Lagerstätte. The unique thing about this new fossil ostracod ? Hint the new species name is Nymphatelina gravida.

Like C. eclecticos, this ostracod was found in the Herefordshire Lagerstätte and her soft organs were remarkably well preserved, including her eggs. When the team used their grinding and 3D reconstruction technique, they discovered what appears to be a brood of some 20 eggs preserved in her shell. The same brooding is observed in modern ostracods, such as the modern Gigantocypris dracontovalis pictured below the 3D reconstruction of N. gravida. Another remarkably conserved body plan and biological behavior (parental brooding).

Oh, Nymphatelina gravida translates roughly to "young pregnant ocean guardian woman."

Top is digital reconstruction of N. gravida brooding it's eggs (yellow), bottom is the modern ostracod G. dracontovalis also brooding.
Original image from University of Leicester

Update: Todd has reason to ask "Who has the oldest" of C. eclecticos as well, the oldest ostracod eyes in Ostra-blog 4.


D. J. Siveter (2003). An Ostracode Crustacean with Soft Parts from the Lower Silurian Science, 302 (5651), 1749-1751 DOI: 10.1126/science.1091376

David J. Siveter, Derek J. Siveter, Mark D. Sutton, Derek E.G. Briggs (2007). Brood care in a Silurian ostracod Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 274 (1609), 465-469 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2006.3756

Mark D. Sutton, Derek E. G. Briggs, David J. Siveter, and Derek J. Siveter (2001). Methodologies for the Visualization and Reconstruction of Three-Dimensional Fossils from the Silurian Herefordshire Lagerstätte. Palaeontologia Electronica, 4 (1)

Ocean Hall Inverts

The new Ocean Hall will be opening to the public on September 27th (oh to be there on opening day!!). Among the displays will be hundreds of preserved specimens covering a wide range of creatures.

Smithsonian Magazine's September issue provides their pick of the top 8 species in a "Most Likely to..." list. The pycnogonid is featured in the list with a picture and as "The most likely to star in a horror movie".

But what about the rest of the list ? Well gotta give props to writer Anika Gupta, 6 of the 8 species listed are inverts! Ok it's not 95% but it's much better than most lists. (and the two vertebrates are actually pretty cool fish anyways)

The full list includes such entries as "Most Likely to Stick it to the Man" and "Most Down and Dirty" and is available in print and online in the Arts & Culture section.

(As a side note the Ocean Hall got some awesome High Definition Deep Seamount footage from the NURC lab here at UCONN. Including lot's of inverts. Hopefully it all made it to the final reels being shown in the hall.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ancient Opiliones

Harvestman, originally uploaded by eclectic echoes.

Not so long ago Chris at Catalogue of Organisms decided to devote the next few years of his life to sorting out the nomenclature of the long-legged harvestman, a task that he admitted was prone to make him
Run screaming in horror from the entire concept of Asian Gagrellinae and end up crouched into the fetal position and whimpering in the darkest recesses of the wet collection.
You gotta respect a man who can take on his deepest fears like that (either that or prepare to offer him round-the-clock in-house meds, nursing and security).

I can't offer much about the harvestmen, except the most basic tidbits. While harvestmen are arachnids like spiders, they are not spiders, but belong to a sister group (order Opiliones) of the spiders (order Arenea). The most immediate visible difference between harvestmen and true spiders is the appearance of the body: spiders have a clearly defined two part body form consisting of a cephalothorax and an abdomen separated by a "waist", while harvestmen have a body in which the two sections appear fused into one oval shape.

Contrary to popular myth, Harvestmen pose no danger to humans, not because they can't pierce human skin (which all but the largest species can't, but that's beside the point), but because they have no piercing "fangs" and no venom glands. In the image you can clearly see the chelicerae, which have no piercing structures, unlike the true spiders.

Last tidbit...the Opiliones are an ancient group and have left some interesting fossils, including a 400 million year old fossilized penis. The oldest penis second oldest known penis known in fact.

The current and previous record holders? The Ostracod.

Update: I was wrong about the current record holder for the oldest known male genitals... not 3 months after the 412 Myo fossil harvestman was documented, a 425Myo Ostracod was documented with well preserved male member.

Legacy Reminder

Just a reminder that we'll be hosting the 11th edition of Linnaeus' Legacy here in a little over a week from now. The current edition is hosted at A DC Birding Blog who reminded me today that it is the centennial of Roger Tory Peterson's birth. I'll have to go visit the penguins tomorrow!

Submissions to the next edition (which I hope contain many invert entries!) should be made either by email to eric.heupel at or using the submission form at Blog Carnival.

Things in a taxonomist's office...

ChrisM has a post up describing the wonderful things in his office for working on sea stars. Much of the same things are found in mine as well, Although I steal paper towels from the restroom instead of toilet paper. Chistopher Taylor decided to admit to the world his special substance for mounting genitalia... So I thought I'd share a little something I find indispensible in my own research, thanks to a nearly all female lab I spent a semester doing some work at!

That's right hot pink nail polish. You would not believe how well it seals cover slips on slides. It comes with its own applicator and dries super fast too! Plus you can tell when you've reached the end of the cover slip. It is also great for color-coding your slides. Each species has a different color in my slide boxes. I know what you are going to ask... just let me reassure you. Pink does seal better than orange and blue, but it is about as effective as red. I never tried black though.

Crustacean Period

A bit ago Kevin wondered what goes on in some conservatives minds...
Well this certainly won't clear it up.

From the Wright County Republican, Aug 27th, an article entitled "Climate Momentum Shifting: Prominent Scientists Reverse Belief in Man-made Global Warming - Now Skeptics"

'One certainty, however, is that earth has been very much warmer than it is now – “That’s why we find dinosaur bones all the way to the poles,” said Steward. During the Crustacean Period, earth’s average temperature was 80 degrees – compared to the average temperature now of 59 degrees. And, earth has been much colder than it is now. “Ithaca, New York was 1.8 miles under snow and ice just 11,000 years ago,” according to Steward.'

World Snail Racing Championships!

The Telegraph reports:
"Named after Lewis Hamilton's Formula One teammate, Heikki triumphed, leaving his rivals trailing in his slime with a time of three minutes, two seconds.

His owner, 13-year-old Georgie Brown from East Winch, Norfolk, saw him overcome over 200 garden snails battling it out over the 13 inch course in their quest to become World Champion.

The annual event at Congham, near King's Lynn in Norfolk, is over 30 years old, and although there are a number of imitations, it is the only recognised World Championship."

Hat tip to Aydin.

Bush: Contraception is Abortion

Seriously, wtf?? I cannot fathom what goes on in a conservatives mind. It blows me away. Their twisted logic knows no ends. I got this from a facebook friend today.

It seems unbelievable, but the Bush Administration is quietly trying to redefine "abortion" to include birth control. The Houston Chronicle says this could wipe out dozens of state laws that protect women's reproductive freedom and protect rape victims. This "rule change" doesn't need congressional approval.

Can you join over 250,000 others in signing this emergency message to Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, whose department is considering this rule change right now?

Click here to sign:

MoveOn and Planned Parenthood will deliver the petition to Secretary Leavitt this coming week.

Petition Text:
"Contraception is NOT abortion. The Bush Administration's proposal to change the definition of abortion and reduce women's access to birth control must be stopped."
I don't know what good these petitions really do, but what do we have to lose, right? It only needs your name and email address. The text is simple and to the point. So there is no excuse. You can also join the facebook group if do such things, already at 43K+ strong.

Population Genetics/Molecular Evolution Blogs

Next week I move to start my life in North Carolina. I will be magically transforming from an ecologist to a population geneticist! So I ask my faithful readers from a variety of backgrounds. What are the good Pop Gen and Molecular Evolution blogs out there I should be putting in my RSS feeds. I want to be to keep up with the latest research in the field and learn about the techniques and theory. Who is doing that?

Here are some related blogs that I do read already. If you have a pop gen/molecular evolution blog that is not on the list please don't be offended, let me know and I will add you to the RSS feed and blogroll!

Barcode of Life Blog
Beagle Project Blog (Karen James)
Evolutionary Novelties
Gene Expression
Rough Guide to Evolution
Sex, Genes & Evolution
Systematics and Biogeography
Tree of Life

DNC Delegate Invert Schooling

With the DNC convention descending on Denver, had a Delegate Service Day where many delegates do something to give back to the Denver community. Some lucky delegates got the opportunity to learn about water quality and were trained in some invert identification by kids from the Cole Arts and Science Academy and the FrontRange Earth Force.

“They’ll be doing water quality testing,” Earth Force’s professional development head Tasha Mitchell said while waiting for delegates to arrive. “They are looking for the levels of phosphates in the water” to help indicate toxins.

Delegates were also trained in “macro invertebrate identification” — spotting species of insects and Platte River-dwellers that indicate high or low tolerance of pollutants. Seeing crayfish, for example, means the waters are very clean.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Come on Kevin...TALK!

Something is brewing over at Deep Sea News.

It looks like Craig has developed a cryptic, one liner posting habit...heck my RSS reader can't even keep up!

So come on Kevin...
"Big Things"? "New Discoveries"

A new species of oversized deep sea mussel? Named after You? Bathymodiolus zelnii?

An even bigger deep sea isopod named Bathynomus mcclainii?

Or a new cryptic deep sea coral Lophelia etnoyerii?

Or maybe a gargantuan 1m long deep sea carnivorous bivalve named Poromya pontomarenovii?

Whatcha know?
We have ways you know....
(Johann prep the invasive crabs...)

Watchmen Looks AWESOME

I am so stoked that a Watchmen movie is being made. And it looks like it will be AWESOME! i.e. not a cheesy comic spoof, but a genuine deal. Here is the trailer.

Bivalve vs. Fish

This one is for the folks who thought bivalves are "boring benthic creatures" that just sit around like a lump on or in the substrate...

This is the Snuffbox Mussel (Epioblasma triquetra), a member of the Family Unionidae, the freshwater pearly mussels. Unionidae larvae (glochidia) are ectoparasites on the gills of fish. Getting the glochidia on the fish gills can be tricky and a variety of methods have evolved within the Unionidae. One general method is to get the fish close, real close, then "spit" your larvae into their face so they breath them in and across the gills. (one of my son's favorite Parasite Unleashed cards) The Snuffbox (and several other species) takes this to an extreme by actually clamping onto the fishes head, then pumping water and glochidia into the now gasping fishes throat. Even within this general method there is huge variation, with adaptations of shell shape, mantle and specialized glochidia brood pouch (marsupial gill). The following video is from M.C. Barnhart showing the capture of a logperch (Percina caprodes) and then the glochidia being pumping into its gills.

Invert Machines

I need to get to Nantes to see Les Machines de l'île first hand!

Oh, did I mention the Squid?

Rep a mechanical reverse propulsion squid you can ride...

The Deep Sea Lovers will find plenty to enjoy as well. I would love to ride in a DS Angler Fish at night!

Current Biology Interviews John Bonner

Current Biology has an excellent interview with John Bonner, a Princeton professor emeritus who was a pioneer in the study of cellular slime molds. I like his answer to the following question. It shows a sense of humor.
"Do you have any views on ethics? My views on ethics are based on common sense, not dogma. I have always been fascinated by the continuing discussion of when human life begins. No one seems to mention that life began billions of years ago and has been going strong ever since. I sympathize with the need to treat animals in experiments in the most humane way, but this is a matter that really does not arise in my own work. In fact when I cut up and make grafts on slime mold slugs I do not think of myself as torturing them — a sort of slime mold Doctor Moreau. But maybe I am underestimating their sensibilities."
Bonner also laments on how scientific papers are written today when he reveals that his favorite paper was from 1923:
"Do you have a favorite paper? Yes. G.P. Bidder, The relation of the form of a sponge to its currents (Quart. J. Micr. Sci. 67, 293–323. 1923!). Not only did Bidder do some ingenious experiments on sponge hydrodynamics, but he wrote them up in an exemplary fashion. He wrote the paper in a way that, alas, would no longer be possible in a journal today."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Moments in 'doh'!

Does this mean evolution-deniers are going to hell?

Hat tip to ptet.

Cave Assassins Suck Blood From Vampires

Hat Tip to Bora for finding this gem. I couldn't really call it an invert or vert win or lose since no one died or was seriously maimed in the conflict. Lets just call it cool!

A Fruit Fly in New York

A nice appreciation of the Fruit Fly in science and the public's view of them set to a nice soundtrak! Tip of the curly wing to Bjorn Brembs.

A Fruit Fly In New York from Imagine Science Films on Vimeo.

Work With Inverts on Lizard Island

Lizard Island has a call out for applications to their Doctoral Fellowship program, but ya gotta get it in fast....deadline is Sept 5th, 2008 for fellowships beginning in 2009 (they have two available each up to three years!) The full announcement from Coral-List:

From: Anne Hoggett
To: Coral_List
Subject: [Coral-List] Lizard Island Doctoral Fellowships - call for applications

The Lizard Island Doctoral Fellowships Program provides support for field-intensive coral reef research at Lizard Island Research Station on the Great Barrier Reef by outstanding PhD students from any university. Two Fellowships are offered for 2009, each of up to three years' duration: the Lizard Island Doctoral Fellowship (funded by the Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation) and the Ian Potter Doctoral Fellowship at Lizard Island (funded by The Ian Potter Foundation). The closing date for preliminary applications has been extended by one week to 5 September 2008. Please pass this information to any students who may be interested in applying.
Further information and the preliminary application form are at

Dr Anne Hoggett & Dr Lyle Vail
Directors, Lizard Island Research Station

Australian Museum

Lizard Island Research Station
PMB 37 Cairns QLD 4870 Australia
t 61 7 4060 3977 f 61 7 4060 3977

Inspiring the exploration of nature and cultures

Coral-List mailing list

Sunday, August 24, 2008

New Additions to the Spineless Blogroll

There are even more amazing blogs without a backbone out there! The invertosphere is multiplying! Here a several I've recently discovered that are worth pinching an RSS feed from. I'll let them speak for themselves.

Amphidrome - Very well-written and well-informed articles, highly recommend!

Dipnet and calipers at my side, I’ll be roaming through the wilds of biogeography, aquatic ecology, invasion biology, and systematics. You’ll encounter your fair share of river prawns along the way, but non-carcinologists certainly shouldn’t feel left out.

What’s in store, you ask? Stream-dwellers that waft across oceans, waterfall-scaling filter feeders, foreign mercenaries in a crusade against man-killing snails, and an endless parade of creatures elegant, puzzling, and tragically out of place. - A community college professor from the midwest doing summer research on Turneffe atoll in Belize:
"The purpose of this blog will be to post, if possible, pictures and commentary from my work in the Caribbean during the remainder of 2008."
Let hope he keeps it up throughout the school year!

Dudu Diaries - "Notes from an insect lover." The photos alone are worth the subscription! Especially these rainforest insects from his fieldwork in Kenya:
"I’m a Kenyan entomologist, an artist, naturalist and writer. I’m currently conducting research in evolution and ecology at Harvard as a PhD student. I’ve been studying a wide range of insect species in East Africa including baboons, butterflies, ants, acacia trees, and wildflowers.

This Diary will take you on some of my adventures through ‘Dudu Diaries’ - safari’s of a different kind where the big five have six (or more) legs - and you are going to just love bugs and you will want to help protect them."
Oh and find out what dudu means in his first post.

Palaeoentomology and Insect Evolution - I think the title of this blog says it all. It is written by a
"Ph.D. student in the Palaeobiology Research Group of the University of Portsmouth, UK. My research interests include the comparative biology, systematics, phylogeny and biogeography of insects; particularly Orthoptera and related orders. My Ph.D. research is primarily concerned with a systematic revision of fossil Orthoptera from the Early Cretaceous of Brazil. However, I am also involved in research on both living and fossil insects from around the world."
Some more palaeo-invert to represent for the Boneyard!

Star Trackers - One the several awesome Singapore nature blogs. This blogs specifically about
"Monitoring the body growth, survivorship, habitat utilization and movement patterns of knobbly seastar (Protoreaster nodosus) individuals at marine habitats in Singapore."
In a move to make Chris M cry with tears of joy they proudly display the motto: "KNOW, LOVE, SAVE Our Seastars". Well put!

Squidblog - All Squid All the Time. 'Nuff said.

Squidsquid - Go there and check out the little mouse pointer game. Then when you've had your fill check out the blog and the rest of the website. The creator claims:
"The first giant squid to have swum up from the briny ocean depths and constructed a website."

Ceph Love!

(hat tip to wwwEPARKsk via Rustbeard)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Japanese Bug Fights Round 30 HIIIIIYAHH!!!!

Hat tip to Peter, thanks!

Saturday Morning Funnies - Sunday Invert Lineup

It actually was linked to from one of the stories on Steve O'Shea... so...

and in related news...

Next Sunday (August 31st) looks to be an Ocean and Invert bonanza on the Discovery Channel.

It starts off at 3pm with all 4 hours of the Blue Planet.
At 7pm we start up three marine invert hours of fun with the Killer Jellyfish! The story about the search for the Irukandji

At 8pm comes "Giant Squid, Caught on Camera" from dives in the Gulf of California, and the night is capped off at 9pm by....

Colossal Squid - the show on the capture, transport and examination of the colossal squid dissected earlier this spring.

of course check local listings blah blah blah...

For one day in August I wish I actually had TV considering I won't be able to get outside much that weekend.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Scientists are Ignorant

Hat tip Atheist Media Blog.

Giant Gelatinous Breeding Blob

Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, the Colossal squid, is usually thought to be a pretty aggressive deep sea squid, but based on his research of the recently dissected speciment Steve O'Shea has this to say:

"We are looking at something verging on the incredibly bizarre. As she got older she got shorter and broader and was reduced to a giant gelatinous blob, carrying many thousands of eggs,"
"Her shape was likely to have affected her behavior and ability to hunt. I can't imagine her jetting herself around in the water at any great speed, and she was too gelatinous to have been a fighting machine."
Of course this is an early hypothesis based on the examination of one specimen...
“It’s not sitting down there sipping on cups of tea or anything like that."
You just gotta love cephalopods!
More on the story

Danaus plexippus Egg Mk. III

Monarch Butterfly Egg
Egg Mk. III, originally uploaded by eclectic echoes.

Egg Mk. I
hatched outside, but the caterpillar disappeared when only 1-2 days old (presumed eaten)

Egg Mk. II I believe was the victim of a parasitic wasp or fly. Under the scope the yellow mass outside the empty egg looks to be the remains of a caterpillar that has exploded(?)

But, Tammy brought in two eggs from the recent layings (and the leaves they are on) so hopefully this one will develop normally and then we can get pictures throughout its development. Of course this may forever scar the young caterpillar and have it following paparazzi flashes instead of nectar.

The plan is for my son to track the development with measurements of the caterpillar as well as the amount of food it eats etc. He has raised butterflies in the past, including monarchs but this time Tammy may make a more formal project of it.

Of course I get to get pictures hopefully!

Right now the egg is literally just a speck. This shot (a 1:1 pixel crop in the large size) was with a 100mm Macro, a 1.4x teleconverter and 48mm of extension tubes. The egg itself is just .02" in diameter.





Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)

Danaidae (Milkweed Butterflies


Danaus plexippus

Work With An Invert! - Skeeters


The University of Maryland College Park, MD

Graduate research assistantships starting in the Fall 2009 are available under the supervision of Paul Leisnham in The Department of Environmental Science and Technology (ENST). Research will focus on the effects of anthropogenic environmental changes, such as climate change, land use change, and species invasions, on the ecology of disease-vector mosquitoes in water-filled containers, wetlands, and stormwater systems.

This is a chance for high-caliber students to work closely with their supervisor in a topical and important research area. Successful students will undertake innovative research that will both enhance current management of vector mosquitoes and improve our understanding of fundamental ecological issues, including life-history trade-offs, phenotypic plasticity, and community interactions. Opportunities exist for students to develop their own research ideas in consultation with Dr. Leisnham. Successful applicants will have a strong academic record and prior experience in ecology or entomology. Assistantships are fully-funded and include an excellent living stipend, tuition remission, health benefits, and funding to cover research expenses, including travel.

ENST administers a cutting-edge multi-disciplinary graduate program that addresses issues at the interface of ecosystem and human health. ENST has world-class field and lab facilities. The close proximity of ENST to federal institutions and facilities, including NIH, NSF, USDA Beltsville, and the Walter Reed Army Institute, presents excellent opportunities for students to collaborate and connect with future employers. For more information on ENST: College Park offers a diverse, vibrant college experience, as well as excellent outdoor pursuits nearby and the city experiences of Washington DC and Baltimore.

Interested students should email Dr. Paul Leisnham (pleisnh{at}ilstu{dot}edu) to discuss research goals and project ideas well before the application deadline (i.e., August 2008 onwards. The application deadline is 1 February 2009).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Aphid Species from eBay Purchase

Wow, biologists need to peruse eBay more! I remember ChrisM talking about this before with regard to sea stars. This time a professor purchased a small piece of amber with an insect in it form eBay for 20 pounds, BBC reports:

"Dr Harrington sent the specimen to Professor Ole Heie, a fossil aphid expert in Denmark.

"He discovered that it was something that hadn't been described before," Dr Harrington explained.

The insect itself is 3-4mm long and is encased in a 40-50 million-year-old piece of amber about the size of a small pill.

"I had thought it would be rather nice to call it Mindarus ebayi," said Dr Harrington.

"Unfortunately using flippant names to describe new species is rather frowned upon these days."

Instead, Professor Heie named the new species after Dr Harrington.

"It's not uncommon to find insects in amber... but I'm not sure that one has turned up on eBay that has been undiscovered before. It's a rather unusual route to come by [a new species]," the researcher, based at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire, explained.

He said the insect would have fed on a tree called Pinetes succinifer which is itself now long since extinct."
Thank FSM that it was not named after eBay LOL.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pieces of My Brother's Art

My brother discovered his artistic talents later in life. But he has really taken off. He made this beautiful mosaic for me which I can't wait to hang prominently when we move into our new house. Can you guess what it is?

He made this stained glass piece for our parents. The three eagles representing the three sons and the lighthouse representing our parents. Here it is proudly shown hanging up in my parents bedroom window.

Today he announced he has finally opened up his online store at! He has one amazing piece up right as part of his series: "From the Ashes". Click on the last link to go there and check it out. You can subscribe to the RSS feed for his store. You can use his Contact page (you'll need to sign in to Etsy, email me for his contact info if you do not wish to sign up for an Etsy account) to ask about commissions.

The Truth About Joe Lieberman

It seems like someone made a little slip at AP. This story is being picked up all over the internet *lolz*.

Hat tip to Bora.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Republicans: The Change You Deserve

I like the disclaimer.

See more Adam "Ghost Panther" McKay videos at Funny or Die

Blue King Crab Zoea - Paralithodes platypus

These little zoea, from the Alaska Seagrant and the Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation and Biology program (AKCRRAB), are just so damn cool! Ok, maybe it's just me but I find larval development and dispersion to be extremely cool.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Red King Crab Zoea - Paralithodes camtschaticus

Alright, this is not my picture (Again! Gotta get out and get more invert images!) but I've been a bit under the weather.

Anyways, the current Life Photo Meme is "Free"... well, these tiny red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) zoea aren't going to go free, but if the program they are part of works out like people are hoping, there might be many more of them going free in a few years with a hopeful rebound in stocks.

These zoea are part of the Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation, and Biology (AKCRRAB) project in Alaska, a collaboration of industry, local, state, and federal groups to conduct research aimed at hatching and rearing wild red and blue king crabs in large scale hatcheries to a stage where they can be released into the wild and contribute to reversing low wild stock abundance in Alaska.

The program is in its second year, with two successful red king crab hatches. University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student Celeste Leroux has been conducting experiments to evaluate diet, culturing, density, and other parameter effects on larval growth and survival. Considering that they are highly cannibalistic in the early stages of life, one of the big hurdles will be learning how to maximize survival, while keeping large numbers of the larval crabs.

Classification of the red king crab:








Paralithodes camtschaticus (Tilesius, 1815)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

American Invasion of Scottland

According to the BBC, Scottish Environment Minister Mike Russell has declared war on the American signal crayfish

"Any angler who catches one is urged to kill it on sight, not to throw it back into the water or take it away alive and contact the Scottish Government, Fisheries Research Services, Scottish Natural Heritage or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency."

It seems the crayfish have been carrying off the young fish and flooding the countryside by boring holes into the stream and river banks.

Personally I recommend they have a wonderful Crawdad Étouffée

I'll even help with a starting point of a recipe.
Crawdad Étouffée

2 lbs crayfish tails, peeled and cleaned
1 medium brown onion, chopped
1 large bellpepper, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tblsp tomato paste
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp cayenne pepper, ground
1 tsp sweet basil
1-2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 cup butter or vegetable oil (or bacon fat / lard)
1/2+ cup flour

Make medium roux
In large skillet heat 1/2 cup of butter or vegetable oil (or you choice of fat!!) over medium high heat to 300 degrees F. Using wooden spoon slowly add flour, stirring constantly until peanut butter in color (around two minutes). Don't let yourself get distracted while the roux is cooking.

The Trinity + Spices
When the roux reaches the proper color, lower heat to simmer, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery (the trinity) along with the garlic. When the vegetables are tender add tomato paste and water. Bring to a boil, adding bay leaves.

Simmer, Simmer
Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the crawfish tails and basil and simmer 15 minutes more.
Add salt, pepper, cayenne, thyme and parsley to taste.

I have no idea what they should do with the other two American species which, along with a Japanese seaweed, fill out the rest of the ministers top invaders. Those animals are vertebrates and I'm not sure I could recommend eating American mink and grey squirrel, though I know some as would.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Praxis #1

Bora has the first edition of Praxis. I think this carnival will quickly become one of the most important monthly collection of blog posts, covering topics that is about science:

"If it is "Life in Academia", then pretty much everything on science blogs is eligible and the effect is diluted. If we narrow it down to one topic, e.g., Open Access publishing, then there will not be sufficient posts and sufficient interest to keep the carnival alive. We'll have to define a happy middle. We want people to find each other here - folks that write about the business of science, about publishing and Science 2.0, about survival in the Academia, as we can all learn from each other and help each other."
The posts are excellent and thought-provoking and are there to stimulate and generate discussion. So go there and take a gander at them and why not sign up to be a host for a future edition?

Lit. Request

Does any one have access to the recent paper by Hautmann et al. titled "Catastrophic ocean acidification at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary" ?

My university does not have this one available....Arggghh!

Hautmann, Michael, Benton, Michael J., Tomašových, Adam (2008). Catastrophic ocean acidification at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie - Abhandlungen, 249(1), 119-127. DOI: 10.1127/0077-7749/2008/0249-0119

Chek Jawa Recovery

Just a quick link to an interesting site documenting the recovery monitoring of Check Jawa, a coastal area of Singapore with six distinct ecosystems. I ran across this interesting site, I believe on a link from the wonderful Annotated Budak or the gifted Tide Chaser (both also cover this area in their blogs regularly.)

As I understand it, Chek Jawa was spared from development with a ten year land reclamation deferment in 2001. However a mass mortality event – likey a hyposaline pulse caused by massive rains – affected several of the species in the area in 2007.

Several organizations, groups and volunteers are involved in this area's recovery and conservation. They are conducting boardwalk tours, lectures, producing high quality video documentaries and outreach programs, GIS based websites and ongoing research.

The Chek Jawa Mortality and Recruitment Project, in particular, is the site of Kok Sheng, an undergrad at the National University of Singapore. It documents his undergraduate research project on the mass mortality and recruitment of macrofauna in Chek Jawa from start to finish and now beyond. He reports that he hopes to have an article published soon based on this research.

A sampling of some of the inverts (and there are many!) he and the volunteers are finding and tracking...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Electoral College Calculator

The Wall Street Journal has an interactive electoral college calculator. Its pretty spiffy, but scary to think we are already counting votes when the running mates haven't even been announced yet! I thought North Carolina (my newly adopted state in a few weeks) was a swing state? I am happy to say there will be one more liberal living there who votes religiously!

SOS - The Most Dangerous Species

(Hat tip to the newly married Dinochick)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Haeckel Squid Oil

Working to finish up a deep sea PSA that will hopefully one day be seen by the wider public, so not much time for invert love, but there have been some good online distractions today...

If you haven't been to the Catalogue of Organisms yet today, you might not know that you too can Get Kunstformen! and have Haeckel on you hard drive, an absolute must for any bio-bibliophile (thanks Christopher!). It's hosted at BioLib where they have scanned some 474 biology books gook back to 1545, most from 1800's and early 1900's. Personal favorites include p.237 and 247 (among others) Yours?

Meanwhile in squid news, yesterday Peter brought us some jerky but beautiful video from an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. A Magnapinna spp. squid hangin out 7800' (2.3km) down. Yeah, turns out oil platforms can be a great source of science exploration too. When they send their ROV's down, they are working all the way down, inspecting the platform and the well head etc. Often though, they have no mission on the return trip and they have to do periodic missions just for training and proficiency. These non-oil-rig oriented mission hours can be used with the vehicle turned outward to watch for squid, whales and greenland sharks.

Of course that doesn't mean I support irresponsible expansion of our offshore drilling program. Miriam takes on the propaganda coming from certain quarters to play on the public gas-price pains and fears with a push for increased offshore oil-drilling. After tearing up the main points of McBush Sen. McCain and the GOP's arguments, Miriam adds a compelling new twist - she doesn't want us to give jellies the keys to the liquor cabinet.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This Modern World...

... is sometimes just too true! Here is a sneak peak of today's TMW up at by Tom Tomorrow. Click above for the rest.


After a long hiatus, the 22nd edition of the bigger, better, stronger, sharper teethed Boneyard has come from brink of extinction. Brian has the goods. He is looking for future hosts too! Though we can always count on Mr. Taylor, curator of the Catalogue of Organisms, to come through for the spineless. It is exceedingly sparse on the subject things with no backbone. Come on invertosphere! Lets show them 95% of animal life can not be 4.3% of the posts (1/23).

Jetpropulsion in juvenile squids and cuttlefish

I'm in the process of narrowing down my options for masters programs for next fall and ran across the Marine Biology program at the University of Groningen and its opportunities for masters research page. A number of interesting projects there, but one that caught my eye especially was the Jetpropulsion in juvenile squids and cuttlefish with Eize Stamhuis & Henk-Jan Hoving. Combines molluscs (even better cephalopods), juvenile forms, physics and scuba for sample collecting!

"Juvenile squid and cuttlefish start to swim immediately after hatching from the eggs. Adult squids and cuttlefish propel themselves by jet-propulsion, that is by accelerating a mass of water through the siphon outwards by contraction of their mantle. This process relies on inertial forces only: action = reaction ( Newton ’s third law). Freshly hatched juvenile squids and cuttlefish are so small (2 to 5 mm) that viscosity may also be a ruling factor. Till today, nobody has studied the flow producing capacities of juvenile cephalopods in relation to adults. Here we plan to have hatching squid and cuttlefish eggs in the lab to study the swimming behaviour of the juveniles as well as their flow production capacities immediately after hatching to study how they deal with the balance between viscosity and inertia."

The "Straight-Talk Express" Derailed

psst... pass it on to all your republican-leaning coworkers.

And before anyone gets snarky, politics has everything to do with science! Especially, the practice and funding of.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Parasites Unleashed


Entoconcha is a small snail that parasitizes sea cucumbers. When the snail is ready to release its eggs, it makes the sea cucumber spit out its own guts.

Maybe it wasn't a great idea for Johann and me to play our first game of Parasites Unleashed as Tammy was fixing dinner.
"Cool! They leave the host through their snot!" (Dicrocoelium)
Of course, it didn't help that the game was interrupted by dinner, though the conversation about parasites wasn't.
"Mommy, did you know that there's a mussel that waves a fish-shaped piece of its mantle to lure hungry fish in and then spits its larvae in their faces?!" (Lampsilis ventricosa)

"The poor fish!"
But even with my poor timing, Zygote Games latest offering was a smash hit. The game is well paced and complex enough to hold interest, yet easy enough for an eight-year-old to grasp right away. The artwork of Fred Zinn is witty and fun.
"Wahooo! I'm asexual!! I don't have to play the mate card!"

"You're what!?"
Our introductory game lasted almost 30 minutes, but we were taking our time and reading the science tidbits on each card aloud as we played them. In part, we read them to enjoy the effect it had on Tammy in the kitchen. She said, "Eeeewww!" and "Grooooosss!" at all the right things, of course.

And Miriam, yes, you can be the Rhizocephalan - Sacculina sp. Or maybe you might prefer the colorful Leucochloridium paradoxum or Johann's favorite, the Entoconcha, a parasitic mollusc which parasitizes sea cucumbers. It forces its sea cucumber host to spit up its guts, releasing the snail's eggs. Johann's reaction?
"Eeeewww! How cool!!"
Yeah, I think this game has a permanent place in our house!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008

KevvyKev Got a JobbyJob

So alot of people have wondering about my job search status since I announced my intentions back in March. Its been a huge struggle. Several interviews, several let-downs, several interesting connections made. Job searching is very humbling experience. There were many times I was very frustrated, scared, worried about the future of my family and where I will be living. I have to thank my wife the most for being the perfect companion through this journey, listening to my pains, helping me draw plans A-ZZ in case I couldn't find work before my funding runs out (in 5 days nonetheless!). (If anyone is curious, our back up plan was to move to the North Carolina Research Triangle Park area and seek out work in science communication). My parents and brothers were also very supportive at this time. So many people were there for me in the back channels offering advice, emotional support, sending me job advertisements, helping me network, seeking out opportunities for me within their organizations and listening to me. You know who your friends are when you are down on your luck and I can't repay their kindness enough. Especially when many these are individuals I have never met in person or only briefly. Many others are good friends. I really would like to thank, in no particular order, Craig and Peter, Eric, Miriam, Rick, Mark P, Karen and Peter, Dave, Jason, RPM, John W, Jim, Brian, Ed, PhysioProf, DrugMonkey, Liz, Romunov, Michael, Aydin, Mike, Abel, Chris M, Sheril, Carl, Emmett, Jives, Richard, Jonathan, Jeremy, Ginny, Andrew, Bora, Adrian, Kate, Martin, Janet, Tara, Pal and Mark H, Sandra, Anton, Revere, Razib, Mark C-C, Greg L, Chris R, Grrl Scientist, Shelley and Steve, Mike D, Orac, Sciencewoman and Alice, John L, Josh, Zuska, Chad, Evil Monkey, the Fisher Lab past and present, Dimitra, Andre, Josh H, Eleca, the Penn State biology and ecology graduate students, and all my friends in State College. I'm sorry if I have forgotten anyone! All these people, and more, helped me out in some way, either a small contribution or large, it is extremely appreciated!

So what is my new job? Its awesome is what it is! My family and I will be relocating to beautiful Beaufort, North Carolina on the "Crystal Coast". I will be working as a research technician at the new Marine Conservation Molecular Facility of Duke University's Marine Lab. The project will involve studying the population structure of several deep-sea hydrothermal vent invertebrates with unique life-history characteristics. There is also lots of room for me to work on other exciting projects, but this will be focus for the next year or so. It is part of an environmental impact assessment to measure the effect that deep-sea mining off of Papua New Guinea (and yes, its that very company, indeed) would have on disrupting the population connectivity at this unique vent community. My duties, as outlined in my offer letter include, but not limited to be

"responsible for molecular genetics and laboratory benchwork, including DNA extraction, PCR amplification, DNA cloning, electrophoresis, histology, and fluorescent in situ hybridization."
Quite a change for me, but I am very excited to learn new techniques and work more intimately in the fields of molecular evolution and population genetics. I have to find a cool lab coat to wear!

The amazing people I will be working with are smart, wonderful, enthusiastic and excited about the projects (plus they drink, a prerequisite to consideration for me). Which makes me excited to be a part of the projects going on at Duke Marine Lab.

As such, this will be a busy month for with finishing up and moving. Writing will be light till I get back on my feet again in early September. So please don't go away, you should know by now the Eric is just as capable, if not more, to bring you spineless goodness straight from the gastrovascular cavity!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ceph Fridge Gear

If anyone knows where I can get one of these...please drop a line.

Lions Mane & Mesoglea

Lion' Mane Jelly

A small (bell diameter ~ 8-9cm) Lions mane jelly (Cyanea capillata) from our trip to the beach today. We have seen quite a few of these in the estuary and at the beaches this year, not sure if more or less than last year though. Near this one were two more small jellies along with one mesoglea. Possibly the perfect ingredient for jelly burgers... they are inert, flavorless and probably have little caloric value.


Classification of the Lion's Mane Jelly






Cyanea capillata (Linnaeus, 1758)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Deviant Cephalopod Designs

A quick deviant art post with cephalopod inspired sci-fi / fantasy art from a newly accepted student in the University of Indonesia's biology program.

Update: I was going to post a LifePhoto entry tonight, but we seem to be in a bit of a blackout here in S.E. CT. so hopefully tomorrow. Battery is down to 15 minutes so time to go light the candles and sing some (deep) sea chanties and invert ballads.

Colbert Picks Spider Number...

... You'll have to watch to find out!

Hat Tip to Rod Page. Aptostichus stephencolberti is described in the latest issue of Systematic Biology(DOI:10.1080/10635150802302443).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Saving Species Doesn't Harm the Poor

From New Scientist:

"ONE of the most damning charges made against environmentalists is that they destroy the lives of poor people in rainforests and other wild areas by taking over their land in the name of conservation. Nonsense, says new research.

"The vast majority of the world's poor people live in extremely urban areas... only a small percentage live in areas that are somewhat or extremely wild," says Kent Redford of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in New York, the author of a study mapping poverty and human environmental impact around the world. Even the rural poor mostly live in grasslands, Redford says, while biodiverse forests are largely empty."
Research is published in (Oryx, DOI: 10.1017/S0030605308001889).

Linneaus Legacy #10

A carnival on taxonomy and biodiversity! Up at A DC Birding Blog, complete with ostracods (or is that ostracodes?), snails, birds and much more!

Open University Biology - Suspension Feeding

The other day we featured a really cool video from the 1970's featuring Mel Carriker's work on the radula and the accessory boring organ (ABO) in the oyster drill. Today we have some video from one of his former students* featuring feeding in a different group of molluscs.

iTunes has just added some excellent content to their free iTunesU area - Open University Videos. Included in the initial offering are 5 science "courses", including "The Galapagos" and "Biology: Uniformity and Diversity". "Biology" has 13 short videos (2 - 10 minutes each) covering aspects of biology including fungi, "microbes", spiders, and suspension feeders.

The suspension feeders episode features J. Evan Ward, sitting down to a plate of oysters, mussels, clams, and scallops to introduce how he examines the diversity of feeding mechanisms in suspension feeding bivalves. The great thing is that the Open University video, while probably aimed at high school and early college, is accessible to a wide range of audiences. My family watched them all, and of course my 8 year old's favorite part is the mucous strings on the gill margins. More fun dinner topics!

The Ward lab's video page has more video, including this endoscope video showing the feeding processes of Mytilis sp.:

*Just to be totally up front about it, Evan is also my undergrad adviser and I am currently employed as an intern in his lab, but none of that has diddly to do with why I think the video is cool, or why I am posting it.

Ants vs HP 3-in-1

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

Carnival of the Blue #15

Up at Sea Notes, a blog from the Monterey Bay Aquarium! Its good, like yummy delicious sustainably harvested seafood good. Yeah.

"I Would Naturally Select You"

In the category of hilariously brilliant science music video of the day. Darwin breaks up with Jesus. In true heartache fashion, it must make a great country song.

Hat tip to the Atheist Media Blog.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Submit to Praxis!

There is a new carnival in town. This one fills, in my opinion, a much-needed niche. Martin at The Lay Scientist has the details:

"The carnival is intended to cover all aspects of life as an academic, whether it's the lifestyle, career progress, doing a Ph.D., getting funding, climbing the slippery pole, academic life as a minority, working with colleagues and students, dealing with the peer-review process, publishing, grants, science 2.0, amusing anecdotes, conference experiences, philosophical musings, public engagement, or even historical articles about what life was like in the good (or bad) old days."
The first edition will be up at A Blog Around the Clock on August 15. Head over to The Lay Scientist to read about the guidelines, submit your entries, and write write write! The second edition will be held at Life v.3.0 on September 15th and the third edition will be held at none other than The Other 95%! Right here on Oct. 15th!

Drilling for Oyster

Awesome video of an Oyster Drill (Urosalpinx cinerea) boring into its prey with commentary by Mel Carriker. A small snippet from Mel Carriker's classic film "Predatory Behavior of the Shell-Boring Snail Urosalpinx cinerea" from 1973. I love the sound of the rasping. I wonder if and how oysters experience it.

This is only 2 minutes out of a 15 minute video, well worth watching, especially if you're into molluscs and the radula. The entire video is available at IWF Knowledge and Media.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


For those who care what blathering I have to espouse, my friend Peter Buckland of the blog Forms Most Beautiful, interviewed me regarding my work in the Deep Sea, my views on atheism and religion, evolution, science communication and tattoos. Peter is a nice guy who is doing a PhD in education at Penn State studying the Evolution/Intelligent Design-Creationism issue in schools covered the Dover Trial for the newspaper Voices in Pennsylvania. If you enjoy reading about science and evolution in politics and issues in atheism, I recommend bookmarking his blog!


Since it is a fun app to waste a few minutes take a short break with...

How about an Invertawordle...

It's even ostracod shaped...somewhat. A wordlecod... or is it wordlecode?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Work With An Invert! - Branchiopod Ecology

Its been a while since I posted an Invert job, lots of cool opportunities flooding my inbox! Check this one out.
We are seeking highly qualified applicants to pursue graduate degrees in ecology, starting in the Summer or Fall of 2009 in the lab of John Drake at the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology (website: Research in this lab focuses on population dynamics in experimental systems, infectious disease ecology, and ecology of invasive species. We have strengths in modeling, computation, and stochastic population theory. Recent projects include invasive aquatic species in the Great Lakes of North America, extinction in experimental zooplankton populations, and modeling disease outbreaks. For other past research see Students interested in either modeling/computation/theory or empirical research are encouraged to apply. Potential students are strongly encouraged to email (jdrake[at]uga[dot]edu) a letter of introduction and expression of interest well in advance of the application deadline (approx. November 1, 2008).


Drs. John Drake (University of Georgia) and Stephen Golladay (Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center) are seeking a graduate student at either the MS or PhD level to study the population ecology of rare branchiopod crustaceans in temporary ponds of the Ichauway conservation site in southwest Georgia. Results of this work will be used in the conservation and restoration of coastal plain isolated wetlands. The successful applicant will complete coursework at the Odum School of Ecology (University of Georgia) and will be subsequently stationed at the Jones Center for research. For more information about the UGA graduate program in ecology, please see For more information about joint program between the Odum School of Ecology and the Jones Center, please see For more information about the Jones Center, including information about the site, facilities, and programs, please see

For more information about the Graduate Program in Ecology and instructions for applying, please see Funding is immediately available for the this position. Outstanding applicants with other interests are encouraged inquire for information about fellowships and other sources of funding.