In the comments, Rob Clack asks: I’ve just read about Martialis on Panda’s Thumb and have a question. If I interpret it correctly, your cladogram shows Martialis to be the sister group of all living ants. Since it was blind and many living genera are not, that presumably implies that vision evolved independently within modern [...]
Kaspari et al. discover that coastal ants avoid salt while inland ants can’t get enough. Kaspari, M., Yanoviak, S. P., and Dudley, R. 2008. On the biogeography of salt limitation: a study of ant communities. PNAS early edition, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0804528105.
Dipterist Keith Bayless exposes a pernicious case of media bias: Six new families of Diptera were described from newly discovered species in the last 6 years! None of these flies received the press coverage given to Martialis. There are a variety of explanations for this, including that 1) The fly descriptions were published in lower [...]
Martialis heureka Rabeling & Verhaagh 2008 drawing by the inimitable Barrett Klein for PNAS Most scientific discoveries these days emerge through carefully planned and controlled research programs. Every now and again, though, something unexpected just pops up in a distant tropical jungle. Martialis heureka is a fantastic discovery of that old-fashioned kind. This little ant [...]
Ben Stein’s propaganda flick Expelled comes out today. Since other people have hashed the film to death, I won’t write about Expelled except to make the following observation. This is a graph showing the number of technical publications indexed in PubMed under the search terms “evolution” and “intelligent design”. I threw in a third search [...]
One of the most important collections of South American plants is being shut down. The Utrecht Herbarium in the Netherlands houses nearly 1 million specimens and 10,000 types. When the museum closes we will lose a wealth of knowledge about the flora of a diverse and endangered part of the world. Read More and Sign [...]
How does a newly speciating ant prevent backcrossing with its parental species? A new study in the journal Evolution by Schwander et al. investigates four hypotheses using the Pogonomyrmex rugosus/barbatus hybrid speciation system, finding support for three of them. Apparently the daughter species maintains its genetic distinctness from a parent species by mating at a [...]
The famous Cambrian Explosion- a rapid diversification of animal groups about 550 million years ago- assumes a rather diminished significance when mapped to the full Tree of Life. update: yes, I made the diagram myself, by modifying this.
Tribolium castaneum – Red Flour Beetle The genome of the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum was published today in Nature. This latest insect genome is interesting not for what it says about beetles but for what it says about another model species, the venerable fruit fly. The more we learn about other insect genomes- the [...]