Monday, July 20, 2009

Scientia Pro Publica #8

Image: wemidji (Jacques Marcoux).

Welcome to the eighth edition of Scientia Pro Publica!

Scientia Pro Publica
is a blog carnival devoted to celebrating the best science, nature, and medical writing in the blogosphere. Submissions may discuss any science-related topic, as long as they are written for a general audience (the Pro Publica part of the title), were published within the past two months, and do not promote the many forms of pseudoscience. The previous edition is at Greg Laden's Blog. Lists of previous editions and the hosts of future ones are available at the Scientia website.

Please help to spread the word about this carnival by linking, Tweeting, Stumbling, or Digging it, and do the same for any submissions that you particularly like.

And now, on to the posts...


Bora Zivcovic of A Blog Around the Clock discusses an exceptionally well-preserved fossil of a Southern Mammoth found recently in a Serbian coal mine. The post discusses the fossil's significance and includes Bora's pictures from a trip to see it.

AK's Rambling Thoughts has two posts in which AK challenges current ideas about the nervous system's origin. In the first, he discusses Cnidarian reproduction and suggests an alternate model for their evolution. The second discusses the development of a central nervous system in light of recent research into Cnidarian evolution.

Eric Kuha of Scientists and Society ponders the ethical implications of future limb replacement technology, which has the potential to be as good or better than natural limbs, and how that relates to human evolution.


Kelsey Abbott of Mauka to Makai reviews the evidence for same-sex coupling in numerous animal species – not just penguins, which get the most attention. Same-sex behavior has been documented in over 450 animal species.

Steven Handel of The Emotion Machine tries to clear up some misunderstandings about hypnosis.


Songbirds that live in urban landscapes face a major challenge when it comes time to find mates: background noise. In the process we lose some of the richness of natural sounds and biodiversity, as discussed by Madhusudan Katti at Reconciliation Ecology.

This summer the American Ornithologists' Union released another supplement to their checklist of North American birds. David Ringer of Search and Serendipity runs down the changes in taxonomy and nomenclature, which include moving some tanagers (including the genus Piranga familiar to American and Canadian birders) from the Thraupidae to the Cardinalidae. Mike Bergin of 10,000 Birds wonders whether the taxonomic change should be reflected by changing the English names of the species involved.

Rick Wright of Aimophila Adventures observes the interactions of House Finches and Purple Martins and wonders why the finches mob the Purple Martins.

Famous Scientists

Arj of Science on Tap recommends two books by Martin Gardner, a science writer and philosopher.


Michael Scott Long of Synthetic Biology reports that researchers have induced aqueous phase separation of proteins within living cells. The discovery is expected to have further applications in studying cellular structure.


Finally, I offer my own post on some of the many species that find a home on milkweed plants. The post includes picture of a Small Milkweed Bug, Oleander Aphids, and a Red Milkweed Beetle.

That is all for this week's edition. The next edition in two weeks will be hosted by Kris at Pro-Science Bjørn at Pleiotropy. You can send submissions through the Blog Carnival website.