Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New insights into the origin of air breathing

It is fairly well established that the common ancestor of tetrapods and bony fish had air-breathing lungs, but no one really knows how air-breathing really evolved in the first place. This study shows that lampreys have neural circuitry for detecting  carbon dioxide and 'coughing' water out of their lungs when it gets too high. This would be a prerequisite for a tidal breathing system.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Small World

This has little to do with vertebrate zoology per se , but I love microscopy and this contest always has some awesome images. The bat embryos are particularly adorable.
Nikon Small World 2012 Photomicrography Competition

The Hidden Life of the Cell

This video has some excellent animations of various cellular processes. It is also narrated by Dr. Who:
The Hidden Life of the Cell

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New dinosaur species described with quills, beak, fangs

From National Geographic:
If a mad scientist mixed the DNA of a warthog, a chicken and a porcupine, it might look something like this. At the link there is also a neat video showing how they reconstructed the head from the skull fossil.

Monday, October 1, 2012

New Species Discovered in Peru

New species are discovered almost every day around the world, but it is unusual to find so many mammals at the same time. Keep in mind that 'new' only means 'new to science'. The locals have probably known about these species for generations. Also, note that they discovered two species of shrew, but one is a marsupial shrew while the other is a placental shrew. The caption for the small-eared shrew refers to the marsupial shrew as its 'relative'. They are related of course, but the small-eared shrew is more closely related to the monkey and porcupine than it is to the marsupial shrew.