Clothesline? check. Calipers? check. Peanut butter pretzels? check. Mosquito net? check. Dental putty? check. Cabinet No. 30? check.
see you in a few weeks!
Oh yeah, in the mean time, check out Winter Tomatoes!
minor musings on the macrocosm
Neil Freeman once hated on the unfortunate appearance of my homely homeland: [paraphrasing] ‘those stupid yellow hills are just so ugly.’ I’m sure I weakly defended the honor of golden state, but honestly, he had a point.
Upon reflection though, it’s odd to realize that the annual grasses that define the iconic summer landscape of California are strangers on the land. Native perennial bunchgrasses are to be found here and there, mostly in Apollonian grids amidst freeway interchanges and Central Valley campus faux-topographies.
[note to "restoration" minded state-funded landscape architects: ditch the quincunx already. seriously.]
The mystery then, enwarping twin enigmas, is, why should these two Central Valley natives be so perfectly camouflaged against an exotic flora? Also, name both species for a gajillion points. It shouldn’t be too hard. For bonus points, what’s going on with those berms in the top photo?
For the insomniacal readers who keep their browsers permanently tuned to microecos.wordpress.com, how could I not share this Blair Squid Project style clip?
Ah, Magnapinna one of my very favorite animals, far more flatteringly caught by MBARI here. The larval stage–discovered long before the adult was ever seen–looks like this:
And, if that’s not a reason to expand offshore drilling, I don’t know what is…
Mantle-tip to Deep Sea News.
PNAS has pre-released an interesting set of papers emerging from last year’s Sackler colloquium “In the Light of Evolution II: Biodiversity and Extinction.” As you might expect from a series of talks discussing Mass Extinction VI: The Wrath of Homo, many of the papers are rather bleak. Perhaps the darkest and most provocative of the lot is Jeremy Jackson’s contribution, “ecological extinction and evolution in the brave new ocean.”
Drawing predictive insight from oceanic “dead zones“, Jackson suggests that overfishing coupled with anthropogenic alteration of oceanic biogeochemistry (e.g. acidification driven by increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, eutrophication driven by nitrogenous fertilizer runoff) may trigger a massive restructuring of ocean ecosystems. In this new ocean-order jellies and microbes will reign supreme while we “higher” metazoans will presumably fall into our new role as tasty triploblastic snacklets. Sort of makes me want to rewrite my recent post-apocalyptic ocean story with a neo-Ediacaran twist.
Anyway you can listen to/read Jackson’s lecture/slide show here (slide 77 is a personal favorite). And why not familiarize yourself with some of our new cnidarian masters over at Catalogue of Organisms?
Or, you could stop eating tuna and replace your lawn with a xeriscape. Right like that’s going to happen.
and so, Chinese lepidoptera week comes to an end, not with a bang but rather a wriggle.
These photos come from the spectacular “fissure gorge” we visited in Chongqing “city”. Despite being well developed for tourists (including the requisite outdoor elevators) the more I look for information about and pictures of the Wulong Karst the more I realize that this area is still largely unknown to Western tourists. We saw precisely zero while we were there. Imagine wandering around Zion or Yosemite by yourself. I’m sure it won’t stay this way for long…
seen in the bottom of the San Qiao gorge, one of the most absurdly beautiful places I have ever been.
remind me to show your more pictures some time.
Venom–toxic fluid injected to subdue prey or deter potential predators–is widespread in the animal kingdom, from jellyfish to scorpions to platypodes. A case could even be made that stinging nettle is an example of a venomous plant, since it injects its toxin into victims. However, most toxic plants, as well as toxic animals and fungi that rely on passive delivery of toxins (e.g. newts) are considered poisonous but not venomous.
Snakes are one of the most familiar groups of venomous animal although a majority of snakes lack venom. Most people are also aware of the venomous beaded lizards (or, “gila monsters”) in the genus Heloderma. Far less well known is that varanid monitor lizards and bearded dragon, Pogona, popular in the pet trade, also possess a mild venom. We’re talking real venom here, not the bacterial brew that produces the much discussed septic bite of some varanid lizards. In fact, the discovery that venom occurs in reptiles aside from snakes and Heloderma was made only a few years ago and has forced us to rethink the evolutionary origins of venom among squamates (Fry et al. 2006).
So, what does any of this have to do with enigmatic Triassic hellasaurs? Read the rest of this entry »