Monday, January 07, 2008

Linnaeus' Legacy # 3

Greg Laden's blog is currently hosting Linnaeus' Legacy, a monthly carnival celebrating the diversity of life on this planet, and the methods we use to understand it. Below I have highlighted a few of my favorite entries:

The Specialness Of Species at Podblack Blog.
Creativity in biological nomenclature was something I learned about in the mid-90s, when I heard of a news report on a beetle named after Darth Vader. A genuine article, a newly-discovered beetle; indeed the product of research and study... so-called for his shiny head with a slit across the front, like the Sith Lord's helmet - Agathidium vaderi.

Lighting the Phylogenetic Tree by Tangled Up in Blue Guy

Bioluminescence lights the way for a whole host of living beings to either find their way in the dark, attract prey or just to provide pretty pictures (considering the design hypothesis to have some scientific value).

Reference Review: The Trials of Anamorphic Taxa is a review of Skovgaard, K., S. Rosendahl, K. O'Donnell & H. I. Nirenberg. 2003. Fusarium commune is a new species identified by morphological and molecular phylogenetic data. Mycologia 95(4): 630-636, a peer-reviewed paper, covered by Christopher Taylor or a Catalogue of Organisms.

Fusarium is a genus of filamentous soil fungi ... that is best known as a cause of a selection of nasty diseases of crop plants. It is an anamorphic genus - that is, it includes taxa that reproduce asexually. Fungal taxonomy maintains a complicated system of classifying asexual anamorphs separately from sexual teleomorphs...

New Views of Mammals: The Giraffe

A recent paper on the diversity of giraffes has received considerable attention in the blogosphere, including these posts:

Now We Are Six by Coturnix at A Blog Around the Clock

Is there any kid who does not love giraffes? They are just so amazing: tall, leggy, fast and graceful, with prehensile tongues and a need to go through complex calistehnics in order to drink. The favourites at zoos, in natural history museums and on TV nature shows....Giraffes were also important players in the history of evolutionary thought and I bet you have all seen, and heard the criticisms of, the iconic comparison between Lamarck's and Darwin's notions of evolution using a comic strip featuring giraffes and how they got their long necks.... But, one thing that you think when you think of giraffes is the giraffe, i.e., one thing, one species. There have been inklings recently that this thinking may change, finally culminating in a very interesting paper published yesterday...

There Are More Giraffe Species Than You Think

How many species of giraffes are there? Well, it may surprise you to learn this, but some people have actually thought about this throughout the decades, and they decided that there is only one species, Giraffa camelopardalis. However, a paper published today in BMC Biology convincingly demonstrates that giraffes are actually comprised of at least six, and possibly as many as eleven separate species instead of just one, as originally thought.

Diversity linked to ecosystem function by Peter Etnoyer at Deep-Sea News.

A recent study linking deep-sea biodiversity to ecosystem processes recognized that 1) the deep-sea supports the largest biomass of living things on the planet and 2) the deep-sea represents the most important ecosystem for carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous cycling. The chosen indicator species for the study was the nematode worm.

The Great Chain of Being...

... may be an invalid idea, but the Great Chain of the Internet is real. Linking Linnaeus is a post at The Disperal of Darwin blog, with nearly two dozen organized links to Linnaeus related resources...

On December 12, Edward O. Wilson spoke on "The Great Linnean Enterprise" at the Linnean Society. I think it is, however, a retelling of another lecture he gave in 2004 for the American Philosophical Society as part of a symposium, "Science, Art, and Knowledge: Practicing Natural History from the Enlightenment to the Twenty-first Century" (papers given at this symposium are available online as pdfs, including Wilson's "The Linnaean Enterprise: Past, Present, and Future." Deb of A Celebration of Mundanity gives her thoughts on the 2007 lecture here, and the Linnean Society has a schedule of upcoming 2008 programs... [Go to the post to find a zillion links to all of these resources]

The Digital Cuttlefish continues the theme of connections into entirely unexpected territory with Of Trees, and Life, and Fun

Clicking in through a post at The Loom, I was led to a wonderfully inspirational site, the Interactive Tree Of Life! For some people, a site like this puts them immediately in mind of Darwin. Others, Linnaeus. Others, Gould. Others, others. ... Not me. ... Me, I see a site like this and immediately think of Ogden Nash. Naturally.

What are the Bare Necessities? is a post at the Catalogue of Organisms (the blog of Christopher Taylor, Linnaeus' Legacy's founder).

This is a blog on Peer Reviewed Research, in particular, Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research: Valdecasas, A. G., D. Williams & Q. D. Wheeler. 2007. 'Integrative taxonomy' then and now: a response to Dayrat (2005). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 93 (1): 211-216.

The question ... ultimately, is the current Taxonomy Crisis - essentially, the fact that there are just too many undescribed species and not enough work being done to identify them.

Species naming rights by Jim Lemire of the blog 'from Archaea to Zeazanthol.'

I'm not a taxonomist. I have never been involved in the discovery, description, or naming of a new species. Or even in the renaming of a species once considered something else. So, I really don't know the logistics of providing a name to a species. I know that species are named for what they look like, where they are found, who discovered them, or in honor of someone else. I don't know the official rules of the game or even if there are official rules, but I never once would have thought that someone could buy the rights to a species name.... Well, that's what seems to be happening according to a story out of Scripps. Apparently, Scripps has a collection of new species that need to be named and has decided to use this as a fund-raising tool.


The following is a list of additional links to a range of blog posts related to the topics at hand.

Extreme Dinosaur: Nigersaurus, the Mesozoic Cow!

PODCAST: BBC's Great Lives on Alfred Russel Wallace

Surreal caecilians part I: tentacles and protrusible eyes

Surreal caecilians part II: pass mum's skin, hold the mayo

Seasonal snails

The Ant Analogy

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