Blogs & Videos: Sciences

Things seen in the Bird Division #7 (or: Same bird, different stripes)

As long as the bird that we know as Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) has existed, they've had a charming yellow stripe across the tip of their tail. The yellow pigment actually comes from carotene in their fruit diet, and that diet has been changing as humans have brought different fruit-bearing trees into their native range. Now, a small percentage of Cedar Waxwings have orange tail tips instead of yellow, probably the result of eating certain types of non-native honeysuckle berries when their tail feathers are developing.

Follow up: A first for Illinois, discovered in the Field Museum's collection

Last week I wrote about the recent publication detailing the detective work that uncovered the first record of Western Flycatcher for Illinois. I didn't have time to include photos of the actual specimen, so here they are. The two birds on the left are Yellow-bellied Flycatchers from Illinois and the two on the right are Western Flycatchers from California (presumably Pacific-slope Flycatchers). The star of the show--Illinois' only Western Flycatcher--is in the middle.

Naked mole-rats: Not a mole, not a rat, and not an African mole-rat

You may remember him from the Saturday morning cartoon, Kim Possible – Rufus, the naked mole-rat, tenacious pet of Kim’s best friend Ron. With very little hair, some whiskers, wrinkly-pink skin and large teeth, Rufus stole the hearts of all who watched him save the day. In many episodes, Rufus is the hero, and like Kim and Ron, scientists agree that naked mole-rats are pretty cool.

Live interview on Chicago's PBS affiliate: "A Sky Full of Cranes"

Last night I was a guest on "Chicago Tonight," a live nightly news program that is broadcast on Chicago's PBS affiliate, WTTW. I was talking about the wonderful Sandhill Crane migration that the Chicago area experienced over the last couple of days, with thousands pouring through the area, including many right over and around downtown. It's been great publicity for birds. My interview was accompanied by the beautiful photographs that Jerry Goldner took of the migrating cranes.

2010 REU Intern Emily Rudick

Comparative Gill and Labial Palp Morphology (Mollusca: Bivalvia)

EMILY LAUREN RUDICK Sophomore Biology major at Temple University, College of Science and Technology REU Mentors: Dr. Rüdiger Bieler (Curator, Zoology, Invertebrates) and Dr. Ana Glavinic (Postdoctoral Fellow, Zoology, Invertebrates) Symposium Presentation Title: Comparative Gill and Labial Palp Morphology (Mollusca: Bivalvia)

The museum, big data, and islands of knowledge

On a Saturday morning a few months ago, I felt a huge confluence of thoughts come together for me with respect to science at my institution.  The Division of Integrated Research is once again looking at how we can convince people to support the science we do.  We have been discussing strategies with our institutional advancement folks and how we might present ourselves in upcoming fundraising.  That morning, Shannon, Pete and I were watching a recorded episode of Real Time with Bill Marr, where guest expert Martin Blaiser, Director of the Human Microbiome Program at

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