Galveston on Stilts

Hie thee over to Pruned to see a lovely article about the steps taken in Galveston after its devastating hurricane in 1900. They were upward. Most buildings in Galveston were raised, by hand, on screw-jacks, as much as 17 feet; and a slurry of sand was pumped in underneath. The pictures are fascinating.

Hat tip to Pharyngula.

Advertisements

Friday cephalopod: Sepia officinalis


This picture, in Bushchbaum and Buschbaum’s Living Invertebrates, shows a lobster and a cuttlefish. The cephalopod, a European cuttle or Sepia officinalis, hovers near two dark clusters of eggs. As it lays the eggs, they are coated with its ink, a suspension of dark brown melanoprotein.

The photograph was taken by Ralph Buschbaum.

Hox genes in paddlefish

I’m linking to Glen Laden’s post about hox genes in paddlefish; he links to a press release. Apparently, paddlefish have two sets of hox genes and one of them was re-purposed to produce wrist or ankle bones for early tetrapods. Zebrafish have one set, if I read the press release correctly. The paper is published in the May 24, 2007, issue of Nature: “An autopodial-like pattern of Hox expression in the fins of a basal actinopterygian fish,” by Marcus Davis, Randall Dahn, and Neil Shubin. It provides evidence to confirm “Accepted theory among scientists… that the pattern of Hox gene expression seen in zebrafish represents the primitive condition for the fin in any vertebrate, and the group leading to tetrapods elaborated on this Hox expression by adding a second phase and added to the skeletal pattern.” (I copied this from a comment that I made on Pharyngula.)

This is another example of how molecular evolution works: a gene or set of genes is duplicated, then modified to take on a different task, thus adding information to the genome.

Cryptozoology: chupacabras

I came across a reference to a chupacabra. Apparently it’s a quasimythical “goat-sucker” with kangaroo-like legs. A woman in South Carolina has taken many photographs. There was one picture that looked like a cat with its eyes reflecting back at the camera. Most of them looked like small, short-haired dogs. In fact, they reminded me of short-haired breeds that I was looking at yesterday. Go to the links to see the pictures.

There’s a photograph of one at the Lost World museum: a dead animal that looked kind of odd, but mostly because someone has folded in its forelimbs and stretched out its hind legs. I found another picture of the same animal in a more normal posture, and it looked like a short-haired dog with big ears.

supposed chupacabra

Most of the chupacabra photos look very much like the American hairless terriers or similar breeds, such as the Xoloitzcuintli or the Peruvian Inca Orchid dog, which can be naked or have short fuzz or longer hair. The drawings of chupacabras look like nothing on earth.

Someone else makes the point that it’s probably a dead coyote.

One of the articles from 2004 said that they were going to send samples for DNA testing. I suspect that if the DNA had revealed an unkown species, we’d have heard about it.

UPDATE: It is a dead coyote.

%d bloggers like this: