nature biology


I know you’re excited about the Solar Eclipse today, but I’m equally excited about this Plasmodial slime mold (Physarum) that I just recorded! This is a timelapse video I shot over the course of 3 hours. Slime molds are neither animals nor fungi, but they move, communicate, & possibly even learn! Check out my post from 2 days ago to learn more!

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Mauritius ornate day gecko (Phelsuma ornata)

Mauritius ornate day gecko is a diurnal species of geckos. It occurs on the island Mauritius and some surrounding islands and typically inhabits different trees and bushes. The Mauritius ornate day gecko feeds on insects and nectar. This Gecko is one of the smallest day geckos. It can reach a total length of about 12 cm. The body colour is quite variable. It can be bluish green, green with a blue area on the front back, or completely blue.

photo credits: S Molteno

How can you safely AND accurately measure the length of a venomous snake? This is how some researchers studying Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes do it! First, rest a snake on a soft bed of foam in a plastic holding pen, gently press down on a clear plastic window to hold the snake still for a few moments, and then trace the outline with a marker. Then, remove this window and follow the curvy outline with a measuring tape. This method seems to be less stressful to the snake than trying to tightly restrain the animal and measure in hand. Photographed by @myfrogcroaked while making a story for National Geographic about snake fungal disease, which can be watched at:

Source: Instagram @MyFrogCroaked

anonymous asked:

Homosexuality /in general/ IS harmful though, evolutionarily speaking. If everyone was gay we could not continue as a species (obviously). To say flat out that it's harmless seems like a gross over simplification and jumps the gun.

No, homosexuality in general IS NOT harmful, evolutionarily-speaking or otherwise. First off, behaviors or tendencies are rarely if ever inherently disadvantageous or advantageous from an evolutionary perspective. What is advantageous is context-dependent, determined by the interplay between species and environment over long stretches of time. A behavior or trait might be advantageous for a certain species in certain environments, but might be altogether ruinous to another species in another environment. Secondly, there are many many examples of homosexual behaviors in nature. So it’s simply empirically false that homosexuality is evolutionarily harmful since it flourishes throughout the world. 

To say that ‘if everyone was gay we could not continue as a species’ is completely beside the point, as this is not something that has ever developed through evolution. Moreover, it’s false! We currently live in a world where, for example, artificial insemination exists. So, let’s imagine that we could snap our fingers and tomorrow every human being was suddenly homosexual (Alex Jones has recurring nightmares of this happening). Would this mean the inevitable demise of humanity as we know it?? No! We could, through technology, continue to propagate our species. On top of all this, the whole conversation so far has been assuming a pretty binary perspective on both sexuality and gender—when in reality things are much more complex and continuous than that! AND, if that weren’t enough, EVEN IF homosexuality was ‘evolutionarily harmful,’ this wouldn’t necessarily make it morally wrong. See my previous post about the Appeal to Nature fallacy.

So, I can indeed say flat out that homosexuality—IN ITSELF, as a consensual expression of sexuality, love, and romance—is harmless. Science will not help justify your homophobia.

Can Buddhist Practices Help Us Overcome The Biological Pull Of Dissatisfaction?

Are human beings hard-wired to be perpetually dissatisfied? Author Robert Wright, who teaches about the interface of evolutionary biology and religion, thinks so.

Wright points out that evolution rewards people for seeking out pleasure rather than pain, which helps ensure that human beings are frequently unsatisfied: “We are condemned to always want things to be a little different, always want a little more,” he says. “We’re not designed by natural selection to be happy.”

But all is not lost. In his new book, Why Buddhism is True, Wright makes the case that some Buddhist practices can help humans overcome the biological pull towards dissatisfaction.

“I think of mindfulness meditation as almost a rebellion against natural selection,” he says. “Natural selection is the process that created us. It gave us our values. It sets our agenda, and Buddhism says, ‘We don’t have to play this game.’ ”

Illustration: Veronica Grech/Getty Images