Friday, 22 July 2011

Shoulder to the wheel . . .

. . . nose to the grindstone and any other hackneyed old idioms I can think of to explain why things have gone a bit quiet around here recently. Lots of work and trying to finish the EMA I need to submit for my OU course means I haven't got the time to write on the subjects that are stacking up in my head, as well as continuing my occasional series. Keep checking back, because progress is being made on the 3D dinosaur series, albeit slowly.

Books, computers, papers and snails.
This is what I'm doing instead of blogging.

Speaking of slowly, part of my OU course has involved studying evolution in Capaea (banded snails) via Evolution Megalab. This involves rooting around in soaking wet undergrowth and soil looking for the two species under study (Capaea nemoralis and Capaea hortensis), collecting them in a tub and then counting the various polymorphs of each species - wonderful stuff! They kept making frequent escape attempts as I looked for their mates, and had a surprising turn of speed. The sample results were interesting, with three polymorphs of C. nemoralis being found and none of C. hortensis. Of the three polymorphs found all but one belonged to two groups displaying the same alleles on their shells and these were both totally unbanded with the loner being single-banded. For ease of identification I'm calling the pink unbanded polymorphs Stan, and the yellow ones Ollie (the individual snails are virtually indistingushable when encountered alone so I don't think it matters they're not individually named). There are various theories as to why the snails have these patterns and colours on their shells, although bird predation is thought to be one of the main agents of shell pattern evolution in banded snails.

Of course this is all very relevant to palaeontology, and the next post will be back to that very subject.

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