Monthly Archives: March 2009


Mayhem in Madagascar

Posted 31 March 2009 by Anne-Marie Hodge

Madagascar is home to an incredible array of endemic species, many of which are endangered or threatened. It harbors incredible biodiversity, which is made even more precious because so many of the organisms are found nowhere else on the planet. The details of the life history of a vast number of species are still little-known, and this island is a highly coveted research site for biologists all over the globe. Unfortunately, it is now becoming an example of how political... Read more

The Paleontological Prescience of Monty Python

Posted 18 March 2009 by Anne-Marie Hodge

An interesting fossil find last spring opened a new door in our knowledge of avian evolution: a bird fossil from the Isle of Mors, in Denmark, is thought to represent the earliest parrot specimen yet discovered. Score one for the prescience of Monty Python . . . Why is this exciting? First of all, it is extremely difficult to find bird fossils in the first place. They have pneumatized bones in order to aid their respiration (many people assert that... Read more

A Giant Step for Bat-Kind Fails

Posted 18 March 2009 by Anne-Marie Hodge

Bats, the only mammals that have evolved adaptations to shun gravity and take to the air, are incredibly unique and unparalleled throughout the history of mammalian evolution. While the rest of us were scurrying along the ground or clinging to tree limbs, they were flapping and soaring above our heads, experiencing the world in ways we can’t even dream of. Then, along came technology, and now humans soar through the air on a daily basis. Most people don’t even hold... Read more

Warming Waters Bias Elephant Seal Sex Ratios

Posted 7 March 2009 by Anne-Marie Hodge

While it is commonly known that many reptiles have temperature-dependent sex determination, the influence of environmental conditions on offspring sex ratio is less studied and much less understood in mammals. By definition, mammals incubate their young internally. Embryos are kept at a relatively constant temperature within the womb, so how could external climate possibly affect sex determination? Actually, there have been many studies that show evidence for maternal adjustment of offspring sex ratios (prior to parturition) in response to various... Read more

Friday’s Strange News: Mammal M&Ms

Posted 7 March 2009 by Anne-Marie Hodge

Crispy M&Ms were a short-lived experiment, and Mars discontinued them a couple of years ago (although there is actually a movement to bring them back). Substitutes will not suffice, as one hapless woman discovered when she found a tiny mammal bone inside her peanut M&M. The FDA apparently tried to suggest it was a “peanut twig”…and that agency is considered to be such an authority on peanut products right now… ... Read more