Category Archives: biology

Flights of fancy

As I have mentioned in the past, I’m fascinated by the acrobatics of bird flocks, especially the big congregations of European starlings that gather in the evening at this time of year. Evidently I’m not the only one with such … Continue reading

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Argiope aurantia

It’s orb-weaving season in my part of the world. Out in the ivy, I have four webs of the golden orb weaver, Argiope aurantia, all within one square meter. The engineering talents of all the orb weavers are impressive, but … Continue reading

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Life Curves

J. John Sepkoski, Jr., was a fossil-hunter who did most of his digging in the library, sifting through the literature of paleontology to build a detailed, quantitative timeline of life on earth. Focusing on marine animals, he recorded the earliest … Continue reading

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Last name first

Saturday’s New York Times had a story by Sam Roberts about a newly released Census Bureau study of the frequency of surnames in the U.S. The Times story was mainly about the names at the top of the list, and … Continue reading

Posted in biology, mathematics, modern life | 6 Comments


Above: A throbbing, wheeling mob of several thousand restless starlings, near a strip mall in Clayton, North Carolina, 27 October 2007. Below: Snow geese on maneuvers near Ashburn, Missouri, 12 November 2004. In the 1930s, Edmund Selous argued that flocking … Continue reading

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