anonymous asked:

What's the reasoning that defines two groups of animals as subspecies rather than breeds? Like... a Bengal tiger and a Sumatran tiger would seem to be a great deal more similar than an Irish wolfhound and a pug, but the tigers are considered subspecies and the dogs aren't.

That’s tricky. Subspecies usually have a geographic component. The definition usually used for subspecies is that it’s

‘Two geographically distinct populations of the same species that have recognizable phenotypical differences’ 

So basically if you have a species, it either has no subspecies at all, or at least two. You can’t have just one subspecies. There’s also the thing that in animals (as in your example), subspecies is the lowest taxonomical rank below species that you can name. So you could specify that something is a dog, because dogs are a subspecies of wolfs, so you go from canis lupus -> canis lupus familiaris, but you can’t taxonomically go below that in latin naming.

It should be noted that the definition of species in general is…. kinda sorta tricky because while oftentimes, the ability to reproduce offspring is used, this leaves out the considerable amount of things that reproduce asexually and the gene flow that can happen between for example bacteria of different species. 

Now for ‘breed’ the thing is. there is no scientifically accepted definition of the term, it’s just a term used by breeders. The problem with applying the subspecies label is that pets or plant breeds usually don’t have geographical ranges as such, though there are so called landraces which are making this messy again, because they *do* have geographical ranges, sometimes really really limited ones, like the icelandic goat and they can be really really distinct from other animals but again, the icelandic goat is a variant of the subspecies Capra aegagarus hircus, aka the domestic goat. 

So essentially, a breed is like… one step below the taxonomical rank of subspecies. You could define them as ‘form’ i think,’ which is a step below subspecies, and in animal taxonomy is used to describe a deviation from the type of the species, so you might get away with that, but I wouldn’t bet it on it because that would require the scientific community to agree to actually recognize the specific breeds of dogs as forms for the like… ‘dog baseline’ which would be tricky? 


The Brain Scoop
Wolves can be… Coy

Wolves and humans have a prehistoric relationship - and it’s complicated, to say the least. Between the 1600s and the mid 1960s, nearly every wolf in the lower 48 states was completely wiped out; the eradication of wolves was largely encouraged by government-issued bounties and extermination programs, carried out by farmers and ranchers who saw wolves as threats to their livestock and families.

But after the gray wolf received protection by the Endangered Species Act in1974 and populations started once again spreading across the United States, a funny thing began happening. The wolves - unable to find and therefore breed with other wolves due to scarcity of individuals - ended up breeding with coyotes instead.

And now, there exists a huge amount of confusion about some of these populations; wolves and coyotes are hybridizing at a rate faster than can be detected through scientific studies or can be managed by wildlife conservation laws and programs. How much DNA of an endangered species does an organism need to have before we consider it endangered itself? How can we enforce laws and regulations to manage - or restrict management - of population growth? 

We spent four months working on this video and it’s the most comprehensive episode we’ve ever made for The Brain Scoop. We even got the grossometer back in there. I hope you like it- and please do share! 

Woops, someone skipped the ‘Camouflage’ chapter in the stick insect handbook! A colourful new species, Calvisia kneubuehleri, was discovered in South Vietnam by researchers Joachim Bresseel and Jérôme Constant from our Institute. While the nymphs of C. kneubuehleri do a great job at hiding, conforming to the “master of camouflage” reputation of the stick insects, the adult ones show flashy red, yellow and blue colours. It is not yet clear in what way this Picasso-like look is helping them to survive. Maybe the bright colours are warning predators that the insect is toxic, but this requires further investigation.

The species is named after Dr. Bruno Kneubühler (Lucerne, Switzerland), who designed an innovative method for breeding the species. Amongst other things, he managed to extend the incubation period by keeping the eggs at lower temperature for several months. This allowed the eggs to hatch in spring, when food plants were available again. As a citizen scientist, Bruno helped breeding the walking sticks in captivity, allowing a larger set of specimens to work on. He also documented the nymphs, so Joachim and Jérôme were able to describe those as well.

Oh, and by the way, our two taxonomists described the second largest insect in the world (a stick of course) in 2014.


A small selection of the frogs I photographed in Marojejy, NE Madagascar in 2016. Click the photo to see the species name.

Photos by Mark D. Scherz © 2016.

24 / 05 / 2017
Study space is ready, time to start working!
I really need this 7 days and I am so nervous, damn.
I feel the need of procastination but I know I can’t let myself to do that. I need to focus and get this done asap.
Holy guacamole, the stress makes me disabled, freezes my brain.. I have to find some way to keep calm and get more confidence about this subject.

Any idea, anyone?


The Brain Scoop:
What is a Species?

When I was in high school, I learned that the definition of a species is two animals that can interbreed and give birth to fertile offspring. Like, dogs are all one species because they technically can interbreed (although, functionally, watching a Great Dane and a Chihuahua work it out might be… difficult), but donkeys and horses are different because – although they can mate and give birth – their offspring (mules) are sterile.

At the time, I thought – well, that’s pretty straight forward. Thanks, scientists, for solving yet another mystery of life. 

Fast forward to a few months ago when I asked one of my taxonomist colleagues to define a ‘species’ for me. The result of that (many hour-long) conversation inspired this video. Turns out, the answer isn’t, at all, straight-forward. 

Random Fact #915

According to Ancient Greek myth, the first spider was a woman named Arachne who bragged she could spin better than the goddesses themselves (which, if you’re not familiar with Ancient Greek culture, is a big no-no). As punishment, she was transformed into the first spider.

Spiders’ class name in taxonomy, Arachnid, is a reference to Arachne.

What kind of snake is the Incredibly Deadly Viper?

The Incredibly Deadly Viper is the name given to a new species of snake by Dr. Montgomery Montgomery, as an intentional misnomer. The name might be a misnomer in more ways than one- since the viper is explicitly non-deadly, by extension it’s also not a true viper. All vipers are venomous, in fact, this is one of the main traits that makes a viper a viper.

In the illustrations, Ink is given slitted pupils, and horns over his eyes that resemble those of the eyelash viper of South America. However, nothing else about him is particularly viper-like. Vipers don’t typically grow to be very large- the longest viper is the gaboon viper, which is just over 1 metre.

It’s far more likely that Ink is a python, given his size and lack of venom.

Now, Ink’s origins are vague in the books, but in the movie Monty claims to have found him in Tanzinia. If that’s true, Ink may be an East-African cousin of the rock python (python sebae). So, just for fun, if we as a fandom were going to give the Incredibly Deadly Viper a latin name, it might be something like Python Amicissimum (friendly python in latin) or maybe just Python Montgomerensis if you think Monty was enough of a narcissist.

hallo yes!

friend orca is dolphin- but friend dolphin is whale!

really proper word is “cetacean.” basically goes like this.

here we have big famly. lotta cousins n friends! but whale famly not actually “family” when talking taxonomy! whale famly bigger than taxonomic family!

now you see that word “order” up there? basic phylogeny goes Kingdom>Phylum>Class>Order>Family>Genus>Species. help to remember: king phillip came over from germany swimming!  (actually, cetacea is an infraorder- whale friends in order artiodactyla- but that little confusing. important idea is that you see that friend whale and friend dolphin and friend porpoise all in same group!) 

now some whales, they have the baleen. but other whales? they have ‘em the teef. they allll a group call Odontoceti, which mean “tooth whale.” word dolphin means “whale in taxonomic family Delphinidae.” still whale! whale not one family, whale one order. to be whale, need be in cetacea, so all dolphin technically whale, but not all whale technically dolphin. hope makes sense! 

(I mean, if it doesn’t make sense I can go into more detail in actual grammatical sense, but this was fun.)

anonymous asked:

how can you stand marine biology when the variety of species involved is just plain overwhelming! euteleostei alone has over 23,000 species, which is over twice the number of bird species in existence - that's crazy!!

uuuh what kind of marine biology are you talking about, Pliny the Elder has it all down

I made a 30 day art challenges cause why not

For 1 month, make and draw a character based off of a species of your choice from each given phylum of animal (some phyla have thousands of species to choose from…others will only have one or two)

You can make them anthros, gijinkas, cartoons, monster, sonic ocs, anything you want as long as it’s at least inspired directly by the critter

The days:

Day 1. Porifera
Day 2. Placozoa
Day 3. Ctenophora
Day 4. Cnidaria
Day 5. Orthonectida or Dicyemida
Day 6. Chaetognatha
Day 7. Platyhelminthes
Day 8. Cycliophora
Day 9. Gastrotricha
Day 10. Rotifera (including Acanthocephala)
Day 11. Gnathostomulida or Micrognathozoa
Day 12. Entoprocta
Day 13. Bryozoa
Day 14. Branchiopoda
Day 15. Nemertea
Day 16. Phoronida
Day 17. Annelida (including Sipuncula and Echiura)
Day 18. Mollusca
Day 19. Priapulida
Day 20. Loricifera  
Day 21. Kinorhyncha
Day 22. Nematoda
Day 23. Nematomorpha
Day 24. Arthropoda
Day 25. Onychophora
Day 26. Tardigrada
Day 27. Xenacoelomorpha 
Day 28. Echinodermata
Day 29. Hemichordata
Day 30. Chordata