Arthropod Roundup (mutant lobsters, beehives, phylogenetics, super-organisms, pupation, and more)

Arthropod research and news from around the internet:

This month’s Circus of the Spineless is up at Hectocotyli (which suffers from an unsightly cephalopod infestation). Go check out all the great writing from across Invertibrata.

Rare yellow lobster

A rare, 1 in 30 million mutant yellow American lobster (Homarus americanus) was caught in Rhode Island. Normal lobsters have a mix of three pigments, yellow, blue, and red in their carapace. This yellow color morph is produced by miss-expression of blue and red astaxanthin pigments in the carapace. There are lots of other interesting rare lobster color mutants; such as blue, albino, and half colors.

A beekeeper put a glass jar over a beehive entrance (Apis mellifera) and photographed their progress as they built a hive within it. It is interesting to wonder how the bees measure and construct such symmetrical structures. (Via PZ)

A new arthropod phylogeny has been published. This study looks at microRNA molecules as a determinate of deep arthropod relationships. It supports many of the conclusions from a previous nuclear DNA phylogeny; including the monophyletic Pancrustacean, Mandibulata, and Chelicerate groups.

A new paper about the evolution of eusociality (various castes in animal colonies, e.g. ants, bees, and aphids) is stirring up a bit of controversy. The authors argue that kin selection is inadequate to explain the advent of eusociality and instead propose a sort of synthesis of natural selection and super-organism concepts. Read a summary of this paper at Wired and criticisms at Why Evolution is True, NeuroDojo and Ecographica.

Here is a cool time-lapse video of a lady beetle larva pupating, by Alex Wild of Myrmecos.


Non-arthropod, but noteworthy:

Southern Fried Science is reading Moby Dick one chapter at a time over the next year. If you haven’t read this nautical classic – as I have’t – now is the chance. They are only on the 4th chapter now so it is still easy to catch up. You can read Moby Dick online at this webpage, which includes helpful annotations.

Finally, there is a shiny new science blog aggregator at This could be used as a central hub for all science blogs, and as a starting place to discover new blogs.


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