Nothing in Biology Makes Sense: On the origins of bacon

Pig Photo by mgabelmann.

Over at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! Noah Reid takes a look at a new study of the recent evolutionary history of pigs:

Domestic pigs are in the family Suidae, which includes the babirusas, warthogs, the endangered pygmy hog (whose generic name is, Porcula, seems a likely candidate for America’s next tragic children’s cereal) and the domestic pig’s close relatives in the genus Sus. Depending on where you draw the lines, there are around 7 species in Sus. With the exception of the wild boar (Sus scrofa) their natural ranges are restricted to Southeast Asia west of Wallace’s Line.

Because domestic pigs are prone to going feral and getting, um, re-familiarized with their wild relatives, unravelling their history using genetic data is tricky business. To see what the new study found, go read the whole thing.◼

The Molecular Ecologist: Interview with Loren Rieseberg

Sunflower (closely) Photo by ToOb.

This week at The Molecular Ecologist, we’re kicking off a new interview series, “People Behind the Science,” by John Stanton-Geddes. The inaugural interview is with Loren Rieseberg, the Chief Editor of Molecular Ecology and an expert in the evolutionary consequences of hybridization between species.

When I arrived at Washington State University (WSU) in the fall of 1984 to begin my PhD, my advisor, Doug Soltis, handed me a copy of Verne Grant’s Plant Speciation and told me to find a problem. I was especially intrigued by Grant’s discussion of the potential role of hybridization in adaptation and speciation.

The interview ranges from Rieseberg’s philosophy for Molecular Ecology to which one paper (out of over 300 he’s authored!) that he wishes more people would read. So go read the whole thing.◼