Recently, along with Adam Kane, Kevin Healy, Graeme Ruxton and Andrew Jackson we published a review on scavenging behaviour in vertebrates through time in Ecography. This paper was my first review paper as well as my first paper written from afar, without ever actually meeting in a room with the co-authors for working on the project.
One of my favourite parts of working as a researcher during the summer (aside from quiet campuses with less students around) definitely has to be the “conference season”. Indeed, I don’t need to convince many people that conferences are one of the lively and exciting parts of doing science that rightly mix traveling, networking (and sometimes drinking) and learning about so many new things (and sometimes hangovers).
I arrived in Ireland October 2012 with the purpose of undertaking a PhD supervised by Natalie Cooper on Primates evolution. Looking back, the start of the whole endeavour seemed really stressful to me (new country, new customs, new language) and the project just as frightening (what do I do?, where do I start?, will I be able to do it?)… What happened after was way below my expectations: these three years were anything but stressful and frightening!
I sometime come across papers that I missed during their publication time and that shed a new light on my current research (or strengthen the already present light). Today it was Cartmill’s 2012 Evolutionary Anthropology – not open access, apologies…
I bet you do!
These days I’m writing up the discussion of my sensitivity analysis paper on missing data using the Total Evidence method (more about it here and here). One evident opening for proposing future improvement on my analysis is the obvious “let’s-do-it-again-with-more-data” one… But a recent Science paper by Jarvis et al made me reconsider that. Is more the always better?
It is well known that your country of birth has a big influence on your religious outlook. That’s why Ireland is dominated by Christians whereas Iran has a mostly Muslim population. Your scientific outlook doesn’t escape from this either.
In biology and among biologists, we like to use terms that we know are not correct but that still come in handy when you’re confident that your interlocutor understands them the way you do. I’m thinking of terms such as “key adaptations”, “living fossils”, etc… However, among them, there is one that particularly bugs me and makes me feel like Samuel L. Jackson in the iconic Pulp Fiction scene and that is: “the rise of the age of mammals”.
This post follows on directly from my previous discussion of my PhD going wrong. As a brief summary of the previous episode: I ran time consuming simulations that took me around 6 month to design and another 6 months to run. The simulation failed in the end because of a bug in some of the software I was using.
This is a mini series of two posts about finding positive things in negative results. Science is often a trial and error process and, depending on what you’re working with, errors can be fatal. As people don’t usually share their bad experiences or negative results beyond the circle of close colleagues and friends, I thought (and hope!) that sharing my point of view, as a PhD student might be useful.
In a previous post I showed what I think being a palaeontologist is all about, especially the point that palaeontologists are different from oryctologists. The first ones study changes of biodiversity through time, the second ones extract fossils (but again, both are far from exclusive).
After rereading Sive’s excellent blog post on what is a zoologist or at least what is it like to study it, I remember having a slightly similar difficulty in explaining my background in palaeontology.
The Easter Bunny apparently originated in German Lutherans’ traditions before 1682 when it was first mentioned in von Franckenau’s De ovis paschalibus.
One of the most unusual benefits of being in Ireland from a Southern French PhD student’s perspective is not so much the rain and the pronounced taste for culinary oddities (some weird, some excellent) but the awesome trend towards a new age of craft beers (and I’m not mentioning the pillar of Irish pub culture).
The career of Stephen Jay Gould eludes easy definition because of his prolific output in so many areas. Michael Shermer characterises him as a historian of science and scientific historian, popular scientist and scientific populariser.
Adam raised the point of science communication in his last blog post of how science should be communicated to a mainly interested and receptive public. The main question when thinking about science communication is “how should we do it?” However a second question, arising from this one would be “who should do it?”
Thanks to the magical (and sometimes frustrating!) technological capabilities of Google+, every fortnight we have international phylo/macro journal club meetings which span three continents and even include elements of time travel (the Australian participants are always in the future!).
I’ve spent the last few days writing an introduction for my first PhD paper on the practical issues of adding fossils to molecular phylogenies (full recipe here).
Imagine you’re stuck in the desert, your plane has crashed and you’re trying hard to fix it. Then a child pops up out of the blue and asks you straight out “If you please – draw me a dino…”. Now let’s say you do as Antoine de St-Exupéry and take up the challenge without asking too many questions. How would you draw that dino? I guess it depends on when you were asked the question.
I’d like to ask the question many paleontologists have to face when they (foolishly) venture out of their museum storage: “So you’re studying fossils right? But what will that bring to the people? A cure for AIDS?”.
Recently Science published O’Leary et al.’s – new load of oil to fuel the burning debate on the origins of placental mammals.
Following the influence of science writers such as S.J. Gould, I always try to look back at the historical perspectives of what I’m studying. These days I’m playing with 3Gb trees so I was delighted by Mindell’s 2013 Systematic Biology publication about the Tree of Life.
What will happen today on the last day of the world (21st)? Will some giant asteroid hit the Earth? Will massive tsunamis ravage all the coast lines? Will climate suddenly be way to warm for life? Will methane bubble out of the oceans and asphyxiate everybody? Or are aliens going to take over our planet?
Mr Garrison taught South Park Elementary children (season 10, episode 12) the good old fashion way of seeing evolution; “we are the retarded children of some retarded frog-fish-squirrel…”. This is the gradualist way of seeing evolutionary processes; leading from uninteresting jelly fishes to the mighty Arnold Shwarzenegger.