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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Intelligent Design not a scientific issue, but a political one.

An interesting lecture on how anatomy and physiology can debunk the theory of Intelligent Design.

As always -- leave any thoughts, comments, ideas, theories, criticisms and so on.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

FedEx Fossil found to be important link in transition from water to land

In the March 15 issue of Annals of Carnegie Museum, researchers describe their findings regarding an ancient amphibian skull found at the Pittsburgh International Airport in 2004. This amphibian fossil, named Fedexia striegeli, is believed to be an important transitional fossil and one of the earliest examples of terrestrial life. The amphibian received its namesake from the ever so popular shipping company FedEx, as it was discovered on land the corporation owned. The species name striegeli is derived from the undergraduate student Adam Striegel that is credited with its discovery. How unbelievably awesome would it be to uncover such an extremely important fossil as an undergraduate?

It is believed that the amphibian lived in the Late Pennsylvanian Period. From my understanding of this research, the importance lies in the fact that animals with such advanced capabilities to survive as terrestrials during this time period means that the shift from water to land had begun much earlier than previously thought.

Here's a rundown of the characteristics of Fedexia striegeli that led researchers to believe it lived a primarily terrestrial life:

1.) Nasal opening divided into two portions: Scientists believe that the back portion held a gland that might have increased the sense of smell. This is an indication of terrestrial life because terrestrial animals rely on their sense of smell for several important life functions including locating prey, sensing predators, knowing their locations, and for sexual purposes.

2.) Lacking lateral line: This feature served as a method for aquatic animals to sense vibrations in the water - which proved helpful when attempting to locate food. However, the absence of a lateral line in
Fedexia striegeli indicated that it has evolved so much from its original aquatic ancestor, that the lateral line is no longer present.

3.) Highly ossified bones: Ossification of bones indicates that they were thick and well developed, another sign that the animal was walking around supporting its body weight.

Research and discoveries in this field are extremely important and vital in the sense that -- the more we know about the animals that lived and survived in these ancient periods, the more we will know and understand what life was like at that time as well as understanding the evolutionary track they were on.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Some studying we can get behind

Just watch the video. Awesome!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Reflections on Blogging

Apologies from Neeley and myself for not keeping up-to-date with our blogging. I've been crazy busy, and Neeley just started a new job in a toxicology lab @ a research company! Congrats Bug!

So, as we all know, the increasing popularity of blogging in the last few years is astounding. The Future Buzz is a great website from 2009 showing various stats concerning different forums on the internet including Google, Wikipedia, blogging, YouTube and so on. The site states that over 346,000,000 people read blogs annually...seriously?! That's too many people to try to comprehend. When Neeley and I began our venture into science blogging - we were a little skeptical. That's not to say that we still aren't, but I suppose you could say we're slowly finding our footing in it. Initially, we both felt like...who really wants to read the rants of two 24 year old science nerds? We both have undergraduate degrees in Biology, we are both very intelligent when it comes to science (or we like to think so!), and are both currently working in the science field (myself in biochem, Neeley in toxicology) -- but searching through some of the science blogs that are out there, I came to find that so many of them are tremendously technical, detailed, and advanced. It was all a bit overwhelming.

We don't necessarily want to write about the most recent groundbreaking scientific research -- that's not saying it's not interesting to us nor to the rest of the general public -- but we'd rather write about topics we're interested in, already involved in, or just think are really really cool. Neeley wrote about the meat vs. vegetarian diet because that's something she's experimented with...and she loves food...amazing cook! And for me, I wrote about Darwin (because he's just spectacular) and about the ruminant research because I grew up on a farm and agriculture is something that I'm drawn towards.

Essentially, I guess what I'm trying to say is that Neeley and I are science geeks, through and through. It's an unhealthy passion. We have no idea how many people read what we write, or how many find it interesting. We can only hope that as time passes we will attract more readers into our ridiculous lives of science. It's become a forum for us to proudly display our geekdom. So, now that we have our pre-blogging jitters pushed aside, let's hope this roller coaster ride that we like to call our lives is interesting enough to people to make this blog successful!

Comic - courtesy of