New-to-me: a database of bird colors. The link is from ResearchGate, and from the link: “The plumage colour of birds is a model system in evolutionary biology. The most precise way to objectively measure bird plumage colouration is through physics based spectrophotometry. Many labs around the world have collected plumage colour data from museum specimens but generally focus on a particular family or geographic group. For the last couple of years I have been contacting like minded scientists to pool all of this data into the largest database of precise measures of bird plumage colouration. All incoming data is standardised by mentor and heavy weight of colour science Prof. John Endler. We currently have coverage of over 2500 species and will increase to cover most families across the class Aves with the addition of our 10th lab member! Details of upcoming comparative projects coming soon. Watch this space..” There’s also a Twitter account that’s been going since early September.
The Atlantic: Huge DNA Databases Reveal the Recent Evolution of Humans
. “When we talk about human evolution, we usually talk about how we evolved into humans: how we lost body hair, gained brain mass, started to walk on two feet—in short, things that happened millions of years ago. But evolution did not stop when the first modern humans emerged. A new study of two massive genetic databases—one in the United Kingdom and one in California—suggests genetic mutations that shorten lifespans have been weeded out since, and are possibly still in the process of being weeded out today.”
Quartz: Researchers are using Darwin’s theories to evolve AI, so only the strongest algorithms survive. “For the better part of three decades, most of AI’s brain-inspired development has surrounded “neural networks,” a term borrowed from neurobiology that describes machine thought as the movement of data through interconnected mathematical functions called neurons. But nature has other good ideas, too: Computer scientists are now revisiting an older field of study that suggests putting AI through evolutionary processes, like those that molded the human brain over millennia, could help us develop smarter, more efficient algorithms.”
Now available: a database of fossils from Sahul. Specifically: Quaternary, non-human, vertebrates. “This, the FosSahul database, includes 9,302 fossil records from 363 deposits, for a total of 478 species within 215 genera, of which 27 are from extinct and extant megafaunal species (2,559 records). We also provide a rating of reliability of individual absolute age based on the dating protocols and association between the dated materials and the fossil remains. Our proposed rating system identified 2,422 records with high-quality ages (i.e., a reduction of 74%). There are many applications of the database, including disentangling the confounding influences of hypothetical extinction drivers, better spatial distribution estimates of species relative to palaeo-climates, and potentially identifying new areas for fossil discovery.”