Evolution 2008: day two

Today, at Evolution 2008, I learned:

  • The nectar-feeding bat Anoura fistulata has a tongue 150% as long as the rest of its body, which retracts all the way into the ribcage. This seems to be because it’s in an evolutionary “arms race” with the corollas of the flowers that it pollinates.
  • Luciferase, the enzyme that makes fireflies light up, probably arose by gene duplication from a metabolic protein – and it still retains the original metabolic function.
  • The horns of male hissing cockroaches are “honest indicators” of immune system health.
  • It is totally possible to start a talk by saying that you’re going to answer a question which, by the end of the talk, you still haven’t answered.

Evolution 2008: day one

In the first full day of talk sessions at Evolution 2008, I’ve learned:

  • Getting up early for a run pays off.
  • Different species of toads might have different kinds of sex determination systems.
  • Mimulus is a very popular genus for studying speciation – whether via ecological divergence, pollen incompatibility, or allopolyploidy.
  • Some legumes might be able to force their nitrogen-fixing bacterial symbiotes to play nice.
  • Coevolution is important and ubiquitous.
  • Coevolution is really, really hard to test for.
  • Name tags are better worn around the neck than on the belt.
  • The Minneapolis skyline looks awesome at sunset (see photo).
  • I need a bigger notebook.

My presentation is first thing tomorrow – gotta try and rehearse!

Evolution 2008: things I’ve learned

Yesterday, at Evolution 2008, I learned

  • The University of Minnesota has the most bike-friendly campus ever. Think dedicated bike lanes through pedestrian plazas
  • U of M also has a lot of covered walkways between buildings, and the Washington Avenue pedestrian bridge has a full-length enclosed passageway. I bet it gets fricken’ cold here, winters.
  • Dinkytown is a lot cooler than the name suggests.

The conference per se (presentation sessions) didn’t start till this morning. Actual science (and hopefully photos) next time, I promise.

To confer, converse, and otherwise hobnob

Tomorrow I fly out to Minneapolis for Evolution 2008, the joint annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Evolution, the American Society of Naturalists, and the Society of Systematic Biologists. I’m going to be presenting an ancestral trait reconstruction that traces the origins of the yucca-yucca moth interaction. Should be a blast!

Another slack weekend

After blowing the last two weekends in an undistinguished collegiate cycling career, I’m now off to the EVO-WIBO biology conference in Port Townsend, Washington. It’s a smallish, regional conference, but the Pacific Northwest includes some great biology departments (UBC, anyone?). And, if I go out a day early, there’s supposed to be good birding in the vicinity.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged

Ah, airports

Just got back from holiday traveling, which naturally meant spending most of yesterday either in airplanes or airports, neither of which is a favorite place of mine. I particularly hate airports. So I took a lot of photos of the ugly airport architecture on my trip west yesterday. I’ve got them all in a Flickr set for your viewing displeasure.