azspot

There’s no language gene.

There’s no innate language organ or module in the human brain dedicated to the production of grammatical language.

There are no meaningful human universals when it comes to how people construct sentences to communicate with each other. Across the languages of the world (estimated to number 6,000-8,000), nouns, verbs, and objects are arranged in sentences in different ways as people express their thoughts. The powerful force behind this variability is culture.

I haven’t read the book in question, but this is shear nonsense.  Yes, language is culturally transmitted, but without the brain’s capability to produce language, how could it be produced in the first place?  And since brains all tend to have things in common and language is used for similar purposes by everyone, languages tend to have things in common.  This statement in particular,

There’s no innate language organ or module in the human brain dedicated to the production of grammatical language.

is patently false.  There are multiple regions in the brain dedicated to language and if these regions are damaged then patients can lose the capability to speak or to understand language.  This is called aphasia.

The Piraha language lacks recursion.  The reasons for this may be culturally based. Of course it is also possible that the Piraha language developed that way, and then cultural reasons were created to explain it.  Either way, that does not provide evidence that the structure of language does not have a biological basis and has to have structure that lies within a certain space of possibilities.

Suppose that there are cultural reason why Latin has declensions for it’s nouns and English does not.  Or supposed that there are cultural reasons why English has conjugated verb tenses and Chinese does not.  Would any of that mean that language does not have a foundation in biology?

Keeping Mudskippers

I don’t think I’ve made it clear before, but I have worked in the aquarium business for a long time (all through highschool and most of college) and I have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of most commercially kept fish and invertebrates.  I’ve been pretty turned off by the hobby though in the past few years because of the damage it does to ecosystems and the level of disregard most of the industry has for the well-being of the livestock.

And frankly, the challenge is gone.  I’ve been there and done that.

Recently, I read an article about keeping mudskippers that really piqued my interest.  There don’t appear to be any bred in captivity - which is a big sticking point for me. They don’t appear to be in any ecological danger, and aren’t exported in large numbers, so I am tempted.  I also feel like I could make a really intricate paludarium with some Anubias and mangroves for relatively low cost.

image

If I had a pair like these two, I’d name them Darwin and Wallace.

letterstomycountry
letterstomycountry:

joshsternberg:

scinerds:


Spinops Sternbergorum: New Dinosaur Species Discovered, Could Be ‘Missing Link’.(Above) An artist’s color rendering of Spinops sternbergorum, a new species of plant-eating horned dinosaur that lived between 74 to 76 million years ago. (Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

Fossilized skull fragments of Spinops sternbergorum, a new dinosaur species announced this week, collected dust in a British museum for nearly a century before scientists were able to analyze and describe them.
Now, paleontologists are hypothesizing that Spinops, which lived between 74 and 76 million years ago, could be the missing link between two previously known species of Ceratopsians, the same dinosaur group Triceratops came from.
“It’s like you took two dinosaurs and put them in a blender to come up with a new one,” Dr. Michael Ryan, head of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and second author of the research paper told HuffPost. “So the blender is actually evolution, so what we’re looking at is the evolution of one form of dinosaur into another.”
Scientists knew that Centrosaurus, known for large, curled hooks, evolved into Styracosaurus, a dinosaur with spikes on its face. But they didn’t how exactly it evolved.
“Intermediate between the two dinosaurs you find the animal with the big hooks and big spikes, which is ours,” Ryan said.
From the Cleveland Museum of Natural History:
Like Centrosaurus, Spinops had a pair of large, banana-shaped hooks that curled forward over the frill and, like Styracosaurus, it also had a pair of large, straight spikes set close to the midline that pointed backwards.
Ryan said that the dinosaur’s big hooks and spikes could have been used to defend itself from predators. They could also have been used as “signaling devices” to show potential mates who’s dominant, similar to the way bighorn sheep fight with each other over an ewe.
The plant-eating dinosaur weighed more than a ton and was about 20-feet long. What’s more, Ryan said that because the fossils were found with a lot of other bones, Spinops likely traveled in herds.
The Spinops sternbergorum fossils were unearthed in 1916 in Alberta, Canada, by Charles H. Sternberg and his son, Levi, while doing work for what was then called the British Museum (Natural History).
A letter dated 1918 and found in the museum’s archives called the Sternbergs’ find “nothing but rubbish.” Thus, the specimen sat untouched for 90 years.
“This discovery demonstrates that new dinosaurs are found in museum collections and laboratories almost as frequently as in the field,” Dr. Paul Barrett, a co-author of the study, said in a statement. “It shows the scientific value of our historical collections and how they continue to allow new discoveries to be made.”
“The hypothesis is that it’s the missing link between two dinosaur species,” Ryan said, adding that over the last five or so years, paleontologists have been finding more and more horned dinosaurs. “The more we find the more we fill in the gaps … we’re building a bridge from one to another.”
The new species is described in the current issue of the paleontology journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.

Auto “Sternberg” reblog.

LTMC: New dinosaur species??  I am way too excited about this really, really excited about this.  I was somewhat obsessed with dinosaurs as a child.  Can’t wait to learn more.

"But where are the intermediary fossils?"  I shouldn’t be so snarky, it is actually really cool.  It is crazy to think what amazing things are hiding in museum archives, just waiting to be found.

letterstomycountry:

joshsternberg:

scinerds:

Spinops Sternbergorum: New Dinosaur Species Discovered, Could Be ‘Missing Link’.
(Above) An artist’s color rendering of Spinops sternbergorum, a new species of plant-eating horned dinosaur that lived between 74 to 76 million years ago. (Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

Fossilized skull fragments of Spinops sternbergorum, a new dinosaur species announced this week, collected dust in a British museum for nearly a century before scientists were able to analyze and describe them.

Now, paleontologists are hypothesizing that Spinops, which lived between 74 and 76 million years ago, could be the missing link between two previously known species of Ceratopsians, the same dinosaur group Triceratops came from.

“It’s like you took two dinosaurs and put them in a blender to come up with a new one,” Dr. Michael Ryan, head of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and second author of the research paper told HuffPost. “So the blender is actually evolution, so what we’re looking at is the evolution of one form of dinosaur into another.”

Scientists knew that Centrosaurus, known for large, curled hooks, evolved into Styracosaurus, a dinosaur with spikes on its face. But they didn’t how exactly it evolved.

“Intermediate between the two dinosaurs you find the animal with the big hooks and big spikes, which is ours,” Ryan said.

From the Cleveland Museum of Natural History:

Like Centrosaurus, Spinops had a pair of large, banana-shaped hooks that curled forward over the frill and, like Styracosaurus, it also had a pair of large, straight spikes set close to the midline that pointed backwards.

Ryan said that the dinosaur’s big hooks and spikes could have been used to defend itself from predators. They could also have been used as “signaling devices” to show potential mates who’s dominant, similar to the way bighorn sheep fight with each other over an ewe.

The plant-eating dinosaur weighed more than a ton and was about 20-feet long. What’s more, Ryan said that because the fossils were found with a lot of other bones, Spinops likely traveled in herds.

The Spinops sternbergorum fossils were unearthed in 1916 in Alberta, Canada, by Charles H. Sternberg and his son, Levi, while doing work for what was then called the British Museum (Natural History).

A letter dated 1918 and found in the museum’s archives called the Sternbergs’ find “nothing but rubbish.” Thus, the specimen sat untouched for 90 years.

“This discovery demonstrates that new dinosaurs are found in museum collections and laboratories almost as frequently as in the field,” Dr. Paul Barrett, a co-author of the study, said in a statement. “It shows the scientific value of our historical collections and how they continue to allow new discoveries to be made.”

“The hypothesis is that it’s the missing link between two dinosaur species,” Ryan said, adding that over the last five or so years, paleontologists have been finding more and more horned dinosaurs. “The more we find the more we fill in the gaps … we’re building a bridge from one to another.”

The new species is described in the current issue of the paleontology journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.

Auto “Sternberg” reblog.

LTMC: New dinosaur species??  I am way too excited about this really, really excited about this.  I was somewhat obsessed with dinosaurs as a child.  Can’t wait to learn more.

"But where are the intermediary fossils?"  I shouldn’t be so snarky, it is actually really cool.  It is crazy to think what amazing things are hiding in museum archives, just waiting to be found.

afro-dominicano

cwnl:

Albino Cyclops Shark Confirmed Authentic

Cut from the belly of a dusky shark by commercial fishermen off the Gulf of California, researchers and experts have agreed that the remains are real; one of less than 50 known examples of a working optic nerve in cycloptic sharks.

Via: Shark expert Felipe Galvan Magana, of Mexico’s Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias del Mar, told the Pisces Fleet Sportfishing: “This is extremely rare. As far as I know, less than 50 examples of an abnormality like this have been recorded.”

Researchers said they had examined the shark and found that its eye was made of functional optical tissue. It is unlikely that it would have survived.

Dr Magana and his colleagues will soon publish a scientific paper about the find.

Seth Romans, a spokesman for Pisces Fleet, told LiveScience that the fisherman who caught the shark was “amazed and fascinated” by the attention and was hanging on to its remains.

A pretty awesome example of how drastic some mutations can be.  I doubt something like this would be adaptive, but it just goes to show a little change in genetics can deliver a radical change in morphology.