Friday Recommended Reads #15


If you hear a song and want to know what it is, you can whip out your phone and an app called Shazam will identify it for you. It’s been around for years. Isn’t it about time that we should be able to do stuff like that with birds and trees? Natural history guides on phones are not taking advantage of the possibilities: “We stuck dumb apps on smart phones.”

Someone set up a site just to list kind things that academics have done for one another, typically with more senior people being unselfish with junior scientists. I find it discouraging that common human decency needs to be highlighted, as if it is an exception.

What might be the coolest subfamily of ants is no longer extant. The fossils of these creatures are stunningly weird. Maybe you could suggest how those crazy mandibles might be useful. It’s a puzzle to me.

You can visit behind the scenes of the Smithsonian Insect Collection. Virtually, that is. Here’s a great post about what entomology collections looks like and how they work, with great photos.

In a variety of groups of animals, there have been some clownish people publishing taxonomic revisions that range from absurd to nonsensical. According to current rules, the crazy stuff is supposed to be honored. Are you interested in contributing your point of view towards changing the rules of the ICZN?

This wasn’t a long list; after a couple weeks of vacation I didn’t read much online. But one of the books I read was an amazing non-fiction page-turner. I’m now helping out with the Organization for Tropical Studies field course in Costa Rica. The traveling course has a mighty substantial blog, and the very short daily podcasts provide a great taste of the course as it is experienced by the students.

Have a great weekend and please feel free to add any additional interesting reading in the comments.