Sunday, 6 May 2007

Bad weather for ducks

Null's Dr Duck won't be happy when he hears this one...

Bird experts in the US are getting twitchy about the rapid growth of wind power. So many turbines are going up in the South and Mexico that they're worried duck populations, as well as bats, are going to get clobbered.

It's all very well saying 'save the birds', don't put up the wind turbines, but you have to figure out what's going to kill more - ruddy great poles or climate change... These poor little quacks are going to suffer either way.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Bizarre emails

One of the things I like about being affiliated to a biology department is that, every now and then, the strangest of emails lands in my inbox:

Subject: Urgent. Missing blood.

Dear All,

Recently we ordered 200 ml of defibrinated horse blood. Apparently this order has been taken collected from stores. If anyone has this by mistake could they please let us know as soon as possible.

Many thanks, James.

Why would you steal defibrinated horse blood?

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Doggie stroller

I do like Gizmodo, not as much as the Null of course, but they do have some quality stuff.

Quality stuff

Willy wonky

When I was just a wee bairn I had rubber ducks in the bath tub and as a kid I would get taken to feed the real thing in the local park; I've even studied them at university, but I never knew there was such mystery surrounding a duck's nether regions. There's a penis arms race going on.

Despite 97% of birds having no phallus at all, ducks have evolved complicated genitals in an attempt to maximise genetic transfer. In species such as mallard, 40% of all copulations are forced and therefore females have evolved corkscrew oviducts with numerous deadends to maximise their chances of chosing the paternity of their offspring. The male phallus is shaped counter clockwise to the female which adds a whole new twist to proceedings - quite literally.