when aliens invade

In a review published in New Phytologist (2007), Kathleen Theoharides and Jeffrey Dukes examine four stages of invasion as they relate to alien (i.e. introduced or non-indigenous) plant species. In part one we discussed transport and colonization, in which species must survive being transported long distances and then take root and reach maturity in an unfamiliar location. […]

via When Alien Plants Invade – The Four Stages of Invasion, part two — awkward botany



Comedy mockumentary – It’s 2067, the UK is vegan, but older generations are suffering the guilt of their carnivorous past. (((Simon Amstell))) asks us to forgive them for the horrors of what they swallowed.

With similarities to Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’ series for Netflix and Channel 4, the BBC previously brought the critically acclaimed Fear Itself and Adam Curtis’ HyperNormalisation.

This spoof piece of black humour parody is full of surreal moments, cookery, cooking – a cooking show – and food. It features vegetarian, vegan, animal welfare and animal rights issues. Learn to cook surrealism brought to you by Eris.

Domestication makes ya dumb and sick, says study. (paraphrased)

Feminist Primitivism

domesticationSome quotes from the article:

The general combination of traits in domesticated mammals is an ensemble that we will refer to as the “domestication syndrome” (DS) […] In this article, we will present a new hypothesis about the nature and origin of the DS, proposing that the unifying feature underlying its diverse traits is their shared developmental connection via neural crest cells, the multipotent stem cells that arise in vertebrate embryos from the dorsal part of the neural tube.

As the brief review above makes clear, the main morphological components of the DS can all be explained by the derivation of the affected tissues from neural crest. […]

A wide range of genes are known to play crucial roles in neural crest specification, migration, and postmigratory interactions. Given the biological importance of NCC-derived tissues, it is unsurprising that knockouts of these genes are frequently lethal in the homozygous organism…

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Europe’s First Farmers Were Shockingly Violent

Archaeologists working in Germany have uncovered evidence of a violent clash between a pair Early Neolithic farming communities, a grim encounter that resulted in a surprising number of deaths—and may have even involved torture.

Violence on this scale isn’t what immediately comes to mind when we think of Europe’s first farmers, but as a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows, our conceptions of what life was like during this transitional time needs to be seriously reconsidered.

A research team led by Christian Meyer of the University of Mainz analyzed the remains extracted from a mass grave at the Schöneck-Kilianstädten site, an ancient settlement located near Frankfurt, Germany. The grave itself was accidentally discovered back in 2006 by a construction crew. These early farmers, known as the Linear Pottery culture, are known for their distinctive ceramic decorations. A sophisticated people, they typically buried their dead in ritual fashion, adorning graves with ornaments and other offerings.

Composite image of the mass grave (Credit: Christian Meyer/PNAS/University of Basel).

Which makes the discovery of a 7,000-year-old, 23-foot (7-meter) long burial pit all the more disturbing. The mutilated bodies of 26 adults, some of them children (10 under the age of 6), were unceremoniously tossed into the mass grave. Analysis of the skeletons revealed horrific injuries, including skull fractures caused by blunt-force Stone Age weapons. In close-quarter fighting, attackers made use of bow and arrows in an apparent ambush; animal bone arrowheads were found still attached to the buried bones.

Most of the skeletons were male, an indication that girls and women were not involved in the fighting and/or they were abducted by the invading forces.

Skull damage on an 8-year-old child (Credit: Christian Meyer/PNAS/University of Basel).

Disturbingly, the remains also exhibited signs of torture. Evidence shows that the shin bones of the deceased were deliberately smashed, though it’s not obvious if the injuries were sustained before or after death. The archaeologists suspect the former, however.

Continue reading “Europe’s First Farmers Were Shockingly Violent”

Learning Lessons from Invaded Forests

awkward botany

In 1946, North American beavers were introduced to the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America in an attempt to start an industry based on beaver fur. Although this industry has not thrived, beavers have multiplied enormously. By cutting trees and building dams, they have transformed forests into meadows and also fostered the spread of introduced ground cover plants. Now numbering in the tens of thousands in both Chilean and Argentinian parts of the archipelago, beavers are the target of a binational campaign to prevent them from spreading to the mainland of these two nations. — Invasive Species: What Everyone Should Knowby Daniel Simberloff

Beavers in South America are just one example of the series of effects a species can have when it is placed in a new environment. Prior to the arrival of beavers, there were no species in the area that were functionally equivalent. Thus, through their felling of trees and…

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