Category: evolution

Algae have land genes  500 million years ago,…

Algae have land genes 

500 million years ago, the first plants living in water took to land. The genetic adaptations associated with this transition can already be recognized in the genome of Chara braunii, a species of freshwater algae. An international research team headed by Marburg biologist Stefan Rensing reports on this in the journal Cell.

The Chara Genome: Secondary Complexity and Implications for Plant Terrestrialization. Cell, 2018; 174 (2): 448 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.06.033

The algae species Chara braunii uses electrical potentials to transmit signals over longer distances (several centimeters) in its body. It is still unknown which ion channels are involved in this process.Credit: Picture rotated 90 degrees: Nora Stingl, Rob Roelfsema, Anna Alova

Pigment in pink flamingo feathers contributed …


A recent paper, published in nature shows that haloarchaea, a group of salt-loving microbes (in the domain archaea), are partially responsible for the red pigmentation in flamingo feathers!


One of the labs at UConn actually work on another type of haloarchaea, Haloferax volcanii, which I took a picture of today (below).  Thanks, Papke lab!


Archaea were once considered to be a type of bacteria, but we now know that they’re completely their own thing, and we even think eukaryotes (aniimals, plants, fungus, etc) and archaea have a common ancestor that is not shared with bacteria!


A link to the full paper can be found here:

Photocredit: Curious Flamingo, Scott Spaulding

Tree of life: Brock microbiology of microorganisms  (textbook)

The one-flowered broomrape (Orobanche uniflora…

The one-flowered broomrape (Orobanche uniflora) – I have been trying to find this plant for over 5 years. People would tell me where to look but try as I might, this little parasite has remained elusive. Yesterday I had given up trying to find this species for yet another year and that is exactly when I found it. Moral of the story: sometimes you have to stop trying to see certain plants before you finally get to see them.
#plants #botany #botanizing #parasite #parasiticplants #flowers #Orobanchaceae #broomrape #foresthealth #forestfloor #biodiversity #illinois #mycoheterotroph #plantoftheday #evolution #flowering #plantsofinstagram #explore #nativeplants

Agrosoma placetis is one of the most remarkabl…

Agrosoma placetis is one of the most remarkable sharpshooters I have ever met.
#cicadellidae #insects #arthropods #CostaRica #CentralAmerica #leafhopper #sharpshooter #rainforest #biodiversity #critter #insectagram #insectsofinstagram #insectsofig #leaf #colors #abstractart #evolution

One cannot have enough saguaro in their life …

One cannot have enough saguaro in their life 🌵🌵
#Carnegieagigantea #cacti #botany #SonoranDesert #Arizona @organpipenps #biodiversity #cactaceae #cactus #cactuslove #succulents #nativeplants #evolution #desertplants

These Are the Dinosaurs That Didn’t Die

These Are the Dinosaurs That Didn’t Die:


Today’s birds are the last remaining twig on an otherwise demolished dinosaur family tree, grown from fierce predators and sculpted by evolution into an array of flapping, feathery fowl.

We still don’t know how strange celibate…

We still don’t know how strange celibate animals evolve

A new study has cast doubt on leading theory for how tiny creatures have evolved for tens of millions of years – without ever having sex.

Most animals reproduce sexually, a process which shuffles genes from parent to offspring. This makes natural selection more efficient and allows animals to evolve defences against changing environmental conditions more rapidly, especially new diseases.

Bdelloid rotifers however appear to be an exception to this rule: they are all female, and their offspring are clones of their mothers. Bdelloids are microscopic animals that live in freshwater and damp habitats across the world. Despite their apparent lack of sex, we know they have evolved for tens of millions of years into more than 500 species.

By studying their genomes – the set of all the genes that define an animal’s characteristics – researchers thought they had identified an explanation for how bdelloids had ‘gotten away’ with no sex for millions of years.

However, a new study, published today in PLOS Biology and led by Imperial College London researchers, reveals this mechanism may not be the main explanation for the bdelloids’ success

Reuben W. Nowell, Pedro Almeida, Christopher G. Wilson, Thomas P. Smith, Diego Fontaneto, Alastair Crisp, Gos Micklem, Alan Tunnacliffe, Chiara Boschetti, Timothy G. Barraclough. Comparative genomics of bdelloid rotifers: Insights from desiccating and nondesiccating species. PLOS Biology, 2018; 16 (4): e2004830 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2004830

This is one of the species in the study: Rotaria macrura.Credit: Michael Plewka

Borealopelta markmitchelli



By Maya Jade McCallum, on @hauntedmech


Name: Borealopelta markmitchelli

Name Meaning: Northern Shield

First Described; 2017

Described By: Brown et al.

Classification: Dinosauria, Ornithischia, Genasauria, Thyreophora, Eurypoda, Ankylosauria, Nodosauridae, Nodosaurinae

Borealopelta is an exciting recently described Nodosaurid that is remarkable because it was essentially mummified – the osteoderms, skin, and even color were preserved in three-dimensions. The fossil was so heavy and so buried in its environment that it actually broke under its own weight, but luckily the pieces were kept and transported successfully. Borealopelta was found in the Clearwater Formation of Alberta, Canada, living about 110 to 112 million years ago, in the Albian age of the Early Cretaceous. Borealopelta had died on the shore of the Western Interior Seaway and was washed out to sea after death, buried on the ocean floor quickly (topside – down) with very little distortion, making the fossil look like how the dinosaur looked when it was alive. 

Photo by Machairo, CC BY-SA 4.0 

Borealopelta shows the positioning of armor when the animal was alive, a unique thing for an Ankylosaur which usually aren’t preserved articulated enough to know with this level of precision. In addition to that, the osteoderms had keratin sheaths over them, indicating the spikes and other structures were even longer in life than they were in typical ankylosaur fossils. In fact, this probably applies to most armor structures in dinosaurs, indicating that things like Triceratops had amazingly long horns. Since these structures – in both groups of dinosaurs – were primarily sexually selected ones (meaning, they got so ridiculous because other dinosaurs found them sexy), the sheathes wouldn’t have been really used for defense very much, though they would have been capable of doing so.

By Nobu Tamura, CC BY-SA 4.0

Borealopelta was preserved with pigmentation – a structure usually only found in things like small birdie dinosaurs (with Psittacosaurus as a notable excpetion) – indicating this dinosaur would have been reddish-brown colored, with countershading for camouflage in its environment, though it’s difficult to tell what sort of environment that would have been since the animal was washed out to sea. The armor on its back that wasn’t so extensively keratinized (ie, not the big shoulder spikes, but the bumpy osteoderms all over) probably would have allowed it to defend itself, since the camouflage indicates it would have been hunted by prey (why hide if nothing is chasing you?). This dinosaur was recently discovered, and hopefully more research of it will show us even more about Borealopelta and other Ankylosaurs. 


Dakotornis cooperi


By Scott Reid on @drawingwithdinosaurs


Name: Dakotornis cooperi

Status: Extinct

First Described: 1975

Described By: Erickson

Classification: Dinosauria, Theropoda, Neotheropoda, Averostra, Tetanurae, Orionides, Avetheropoda, Coelurosauria, Tyrannoraptora, Maniraptoriformes, Maniraptora, Pennaraptora, Paraves, Eumaniraptora, Averaptora, Avialae, Euavialae, Avebrevicauda, Pygostylia, Ornithothoraces, Euornithes, Ornithuromorpha, Ornithurae, Neornithes

Dakotornis is our last miscellaneous Neornithean! Known from the Bullion Creek Formation of North Dakota, it lived sometime between 61 and 56 million years ago, between the Selandian and Thanetian ages of the Paleocene of the Paleogene. Known from very limited remains, it was first thought to be another wading bird – but it can’t be definitively assigned to any sort of group or lifestyle. 


Mayr, G. 2009. Paleogene Fossil Birds. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

treemigration: one of many species of Black W…


one of many species of Black Witches’ Butter

Exidia nigricans or formerly known as Exidia plana  

With Ohio’s spring torrential downpours, the temperate forest patches around Cincinnati are becoming a plethora with classic jelly fungus in good form. 

This species is fairly difficult to Identify if you are new to Exidia genera, like I am.

Exidia glandulosa is the more common Black Witch’s Butter and for this reason, it is always associated with photos similar to this one on a brief google search. In truth the way we can macro-id this species involves it’s fruiting form when it starts forming or when it dries out entirely. In these cases we see blocklike morphology of the fruiting body or, when finishing this fruiting stage of the life cycle, plate like blocks. Read more.

Given the tightly-lobed, brain-like morphology with brown pre colour turning dark black later still retaining ridges. We can rightfully assume that Exidia nigricans ,P. Roberts (2009), is our candidate. Read more on issue. Other blogs with similar topic. 

More jelly?

Photos taken at Trillium Trails, Cincinnati, Ohio