Wednesday, September 23, 2009

But then again, too few to mention

A true "blog" today - a Weblog, a summary of interesting sites I've visited. Perhaps critical thinking eludes me, but at least I'm still doing something.

Picture of the day:

Sydney is currently being blanketed in a red cloud like a Martian dust-storm, but dear god don't mention global warming or the deniers will be all over your ass. Here's one picture. There's many more here. They are creepy as hell.

(c) Tomhide on Flickr

The Daily Mail, which is a terrible newspaper journalism-wise, is coming out tops in stories people send to me. They just get exactly the right ones for me. Here a grown-up leopard tries to nuzzle a cute rodent away from the leopard's food. Even the leopard seems to think the rodent's cute. Great pictures, too, here.

Ever wonder what cargo ships do, when no one is ordering goods? They hide offshore. This means no christmas presents for you - they'd be already on their way here if they were coming. Another story from the Daily Mail.

The Daily Telegraph, for it is they, goes with another story - a snake with a foot. Consulting with friends of mine in the Knowing Science Stuff business, I learn it is possible for snakes to have rear legs. According to one professor I know, snakes have have a head, body and tail but they have lost the HOX genes (that give the layout for the head-to-tail axis in verterbrates) for "neck". The neck section includes the part that develops shoulders/limbs. However, they have all the necessary genes for making a pelvic girdle and rear legs. The signals that cause the rear limbs to grow are lost when the tissue called "apical ectodermal ridge"(AER), which exudes a growth factor for the soon-to-appear limb buds, dies out too early in development for the limbs get going. You can see the effects in the pythons - they have little spurs in that region, a limb bud that is never finished, and in some other semi-limbless snakes. An unusual persistence of the AER could result in fully functioning limbs.

So a weird Chinese snake with a back leg is possible per standard theories, but a snake with arms would be impossible. Having said that, most people I've asked are skeptical that the snake in the article is not Photoshopped. Limbs generally come in pairs, and are not twisted on the dorsal/ventral axis like this one is. But, you have to admit the line about hearing the snake pull itself along with its claw is good creepy stuff....

Update edit 10/24/2016 - exciting new snake leg news! Researchers have fiddled with the genes for snake legs and made some major breaksthrough!

Here's a review of It Might Get Loud from a White Stripes fan, who comes out so enamoured of Jimmy Page he says, "I think the whole world would be a better place if we all got hugged by Jimmy Page." From your lips to god's ears, as people around me have taken to saying over the past couple of years (is it a new phrase?). Me first, Jimmy.

Or maybe this is the picture of the day:

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