Because everyone can always know more

Lamarckism and Cabbage Loopers

Among most evolutionary biologists, utterance of the name “Lamarck” is an act tantamount to whispering “Macbeth” to an actor preparing for their opening night. Perhaps unfairly, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck is remembered not for being correct, but rather for the exact opposite. Even more disheartening is that much of the disgust comes not from his personal theories, but rather from the fact that these ideas were enforced under Stalin and adopted as a national idea, granting them a level of legitimacy that was extremely unfounded. To make a long story short, the main principle of Lamarck’s ideas (or Lamarckism) is that organisms can transmit characteristics they have acquired in their lifetime to their children. In practice this would mean that bodybuilders would birth children that had more muscle mass than those birthed to individuals who did not exercise. This idea is called “soft inheritance” and was widely accepted until modern genetic research effectively pulled the rug out from underneath its feet. Unfortunately, “soft inheritance” as an idea persisted due in part to the rise of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Union.

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Sorry about the hiccup!

I have been both  busy at work, and slacking off in my personal life. I blame too many video games.

Never fear, a new post shall be up soon!

2:14 pm, by rzinz

A question for my few followers

Updates have been rather scant as it has been grant-writing week here at work, and I am in a flurry of image processing and analysis so that I can continue to get paid this year. I have two things that are currently bouncing around my mind, and I would like input.

Which would you guys rather me write about first: epigenetics or eusociality?

9:21 am, by rzinz
tagged: Science, Biology,

The Emergence of Complex Features

Today’s article is again a bit old, but it is still extremely important and it discusses and explores a very “sticky” topic in public opinion of evolutionary biology. Hailing not from Frontiers in Zoology, but rather from the journal Nature, this paper is authored (among others) by one of my favorite scientists- Richard Lenski.

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Crustacean Evo Devo and Phylogeny

Today’s paper again comes from what is quickly becoming my favorite journal: Frontiers in Zoology. Not only are they open-access, they also have very worldly contributors; that is, people from all around the world. Doctors Wolff and Scholtz from the Universitat zu Berlin bring us a bit of work that will probably leave most of my readers wondering who the hell actually cares about all this. Aside from the obvious (myself and the researchers!) I hope to convince you that the two ‘debates’ this paper addresses are, in fact, interesting and important.

Caveat: This review is much shorter than the previous for two reasons that are interconnected. The first reason is that I don’t know as much about crustacean segmentation as I do about gastropod evolution and physiology, and the second reason is that I am less sure of what I think I know. This stuff is just as confusing to me at times as it is to the layman.

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New post incoming…

Hopefully I can work out how to format it correctly.

10:37 pm, by rzinz


The Journal Club is now accepting new members! To join, all you have to do is submit a discussion of an academic paper (preferably from a peer-reviewed, open-access journal).

To submit a work, please go here:

EDIT: also, and this may be something that tumblr CANNOT do, if anyone knows how to make it so that the large posts (as most of these will be!) are hidden until clicked on, that would be great!

3:07 pm, by rzinz

Gastropods and Symbiosis

Katharina Händeler (abbreviated henceforth as KH to avoid the special character) et. al. supplied Frontiers in Zoology (FiZ) with the paper that is the subject of my inaugural entry. This paper is full almost to bursting with important information, which may be why it was one of the top-accessed articles from FiZ. Before I delve into the real substance of this article, I will attempt to convey why I feel it is important both in a general sense and to me personally.

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