25 December 2009

Science blogging, doubtfully venomous dinosaurs edition

Happy Christmas! I'm with family for the holidays, but still spending too much time online.

Photo by Erik K Veland.
  • Scientists propose to sequence genomes from 10,000 vertebrate species, sampling almost every vertebrate genus (Dechronization)
  • A feathered dinosaur related to Velociraptor has tooth and skull traits that suggest it was venomous – or do they? (Brian Switek at Smithsonian)
  • Recalibrating estimates of "background" extinction implicates humans in the disappearance of North America's ancient mammals (Ecographica)
  • The adorable proportions of koala skulls might be the result of selection for both strong jaw muscles and sensitive ears. (Wired Science)
  • Male ducks have baroque, convoluted penises, probably because of sexual selection imposed by female ducks' baroque, convoluted vaginas. (Wired Science, Ecographica, and A DC Bird Blog so far ... this is bigger than fruitbat fellatio!)
That last one is probably as good an excuse as any to post the limerick with which I took second place in a department contest for Darwin's 200th birthday:
A biologist, whom we'll call Chuck
Said, "Regard, if you will, this poor duck –
"I blame sexual selection
"For his corkscrew erection,
"Since it must make it tricky to ...

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