Categories
notes biology

The Spiral

The Spiral
The snail Littorina angulifera (photo by Alvaro E. Migotto). Cifonauta marine biology image database http://cifonauta.cebimar.usp.br/media/9396/

Here’s a personal view about body symmetry and body openings from someone who lived through the evolution of bilateral symmetry.

Form? I didn’t have any; that is, I didn’t know I had one, or rather I didn’t know you could have one. I grew more or less on all sides, at random; if this is what you call radial symmetry, I suppose I had radial symmetry, but to tell you the truth I never paid any attention to it. Why should I have grown more on one side than on the other? I had no eyes, no head, no part of the body that was different from any other part; now I try to persuade myself that the two holes I had were a mouth and an anus, and that I therefore already had my bilateral symmetry, just like the trilobites and the rest of you, but in my memory I really can’t tell those holes apart, I passed stuff from whatever side I felt like, inside or outside was the same, differences and repugnances came along much later.

Excerpt from The Spiral, a tale in the delightful Cosmicomics collection of science-inspired short stories by Italo Calvino.
Categories
biology notes

The most important problem in biology

Heading to #embryo2017 today! Wondering how long will Conklin’s words remain current… (120 years and counting)

The most important problem in biology according to Conklin.
Categories
biology notes science

Brachiopods and Japanese art

Morse 1902 - Observations on living Brachiopoda. Brachiopods and Japanese art.

I visited Japan solely for the purpose of studying the Brachiopoda of the Japanese seas, and this step led to my accepting the chair of zoology in the Imperial University at Tokyo. Gradually I was drawn away from my zoological work, into archaeological investigations, by the alluring problem of the ethnic affinities of the Japanese race. The fascinating character of Japanese art led to a study, first of the prehistoric and early pottery of the Japanese, and then to the collection and study of the fictile art of Japan. Inexorable fate finally entangled me for twenty years in a minute study of Japanese pottery. The results of this work are embodied in the Catalogue of Japanese Pottery, lately published by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. With this work off my hands, I turned back with eagerness to my early studies of the Brachiopoda (…) Japan is the home of the brachiopods.

Edward S. Morse, 1902. Observations on living Brachiopoda in Memoirs of the Boston Society of Natural History, 5(8): 313-386.

Citations from page 313, 374 and plate 41.

Categories
notes science

A galaxy for insight

By empowering readers and observers with transparent access to the means by which conclusions are reached, rather than assembling them in an audience to hear the Authorities deliver the catechism from on high, we are all of us becoming scientists in this way, entering into a democracy of the intellect that is already bearing spectacular fruit, not just at Wikipedia but through any number of collaborative projects, from the Gutenberg Project to Tor to Linux.

via theawl.com and @brunogola
Categories
notes biology

Enigmatic echinoderms

Enigmatic echinoderms
Seastar Luidia senegalensis (photo by Alvaro E. Migotto). Cifonauta marine biology image database http://cifonauta.cebimar.usp.br/media/9724/

I also here salute the echinoderms as a noble group especially designed to puzzle the zoologist.

Book: The Invertebrates: Echinodermata (1955)
Author: Libbie Henrietta Hyman
Page: Preface
Categories
notes biology

Statistics

It must be emphasized that statistical hypotheses are to be stated before data are collected to test them. To propose hypotheses after examination of data can invalidate a statistical test. One may, however, legitimately formulate hypotheses after inspecting data if a new set of data is then collected with which to test the hypotheses.

Book: Biostatistical Analysis (Third Edition)
Author: Jerrold H. Zar
Page: 79