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Ends up that my thesis revisions ate my brain too. That’s all finished now, but I’m leaving on vacation and am just out of time for writing! However, I will post on the saber-tooth papers on the 26th or 27th after I come back from vacation.

Who would have thought getting a Ph.D. would be so distracting? After dropping off the face of the earth, I wrote my thesis and successfully defended last Friday. I still have things to wrap up (revisions!) but will then take a couple weeks off before beginning a post-doc. I hope I can say that I’m back now, but probably will not be able to return to my previous posting rate for a while—perhaps I can incorporate some of the reading I’ll do getting up to speed for my post-doc into blog posts.

Yesterday I checked up on some of the paleontology journals that have had new issues come out in the past couple months and was elated to find not zero, as usual, or even one or two, but three papers on saber-toothed predators! I will be writing a post about these, and rounding up links to discussions on other blogs.

I’ve been incredibly idle here, so I wanted to give an update. I’ve been working extensively on writing my thesis for the past couple weeks. It’s going pretty well, I hope to have the first complete draft done by the end of next week. I don’t think I need to be in such a rush, but I want to have it hammered out well before my defense. Perhaps then I will be able to post more here. At the moment I’m trying to keep my evenings clear, but after writing all day I don’t have any energy for reading and writing even more!

This has also coincided with a dearth of really interesting papers, although I haven’t really had time to do much more than skim the abstracts. However, this week produced some interesting papers that I’ve set aside for possible later coverage here, unless something even cooler comes up!

I’ve mentioned worms and viruses here before, but this is the first time Trojans have earned a mention!

Yesterday I started seeing a weird error message on my computer saying something about kavo.exe not being able to run. This made me think, “Hmm, I’m not sure I want that to run. . .” Indeed, after searching for it I found out I did not!

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This post was deleted after objections by the author of the paper discussed. Since these objections were not clarified, I have posted a heavily modified version of this post here.

Like most new bloggers, I love collecting new links, and frequently check my Technorati authority rating. Unfortunately I find a significant number of the links I’m getting are from so-called “splogs”. These are spam blogs that link to various places in hopes of getting a trackback link which will increase the site’s page rank, or sometimes draw visitors to click on ads and generate revenue for the splogger. Splog entries are generated by bots that search for key words and link to blogs mentioning those. Understandably this complete lack of intelligent input leads to odd results.

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THE PROPER practice of science requires adherence to the evidence above all, even when it leads us in directions we did not anticipate. While we would like to think that we succeed in this goal, perhaps sometimes scientific progress is slowed by dogmatic adherence to popular scientific models. Perhaps we would be better served by an “open science” model, setting aside such things as reams of gene sequences and fossil descriptions to see what others can come up with when their creativity is not straitjacketed by over-reliance upon the scientific method.

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I’m about to become really busy. I’m not sure exactly how busy, but my posting level will probably drop significantly. I’ve been posting on science every other day, and I expect this to drop to 2-3 times a week. Of course, I could be pleasantly surprised and things may go easier than expected.

IN HIS RECENT big cats post Darren Naish of Tetrapod Zoology mentioned something about aquatic proto-people coming up on his blog. I figured this was the Aquatic Ape hypothesis, which is popular among some circles, and says along the line of human descent our ancestors first became primarily aquatic and then our species reemerged onto land. This aquatic phase is supposed to be responsible for some traits of humans such as our long hair (for swimming babies to hold on to), relative lack of body hair (more streamlined), and our subcutaneous fat (supposedly for insulation and streamlining). While it is an unusual idea, it doesn’t rate “snort your coffee up your nose” funny. I can’t say the same for the idea that he is really reporting on–initial bipedalism.

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I published a post yesterday on T. Ryan Gregory’s article “Understanding Evolutionary Trees”, but failed to make the connection that the T. Ryan Gregory who wrote that article is the same T. Ryan Gregory over at Genomicron! Genomicron has been on my blogroll since I started blogging seriously here, and is a must-read for anyone interested in evolution, especially the genetic aspects of it.