Field of Science

Best on the Web?

TheScientist (the lack of a space there seems to be deliberate, I'm afraid) is asking for votes for the best biology blogs out there. Below are the five that I voted for in no particular order - they've all been mentioned here before, I believe, and they're all in the blogroll down the side (along with many other worthwhile sites), but I'm always happy to recognise their superiority:

Laelaps: Brian Switek mostly writes on vertebrate palaeontology, and seems to go from strength to strength. Check out his recent posts on horse evolution and Thylacoleo. He's so good he makes the rest of us just feel inadequate in comparison. I don't know whether to bow down in front of him or kick him in the teeth.

The Ethical Palaeontologist: Julia's posts are always worthwhile, and she gets extra credit for knowing how to spell "palaeontologist".

Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted): GrrlScientist's main subject is ornithology, but she has many other interests - I especially liked here recent post on breeding trout from salmon. I would also like to applaud the great courage she's shown in writing regularly on mental illness (including her own) and living with mental illness. While I have not been affected personally by the issues she discusses (touch wood), I have had to deal with the aftershocks as they affected people close to me, and I wish GrrlScientist every bit of luck as she continues to set an example for us all.

The Other 95%: Kevin Z, my fellow aspondylologist (spot the neologism). Just be careful with that guitar.

Tetrapod Zoology: Darren Naish works on British dinosaurs, and writes on everything four-legged with the crunchy bits on the inside.

Three honourary mentions that I'd like to make:

Snail's Tales: Aydin has a passion for gastropods that must be recognised.

The Lord Geekington: Cameron is another undergrad producing fine work.

Bug Girl's Blog: Another excellent contribution to aspondylology. And I realise as I write this that I have omitted to add a link to her on the right. I'll have to correct that at once. I'm sorry, Bug Girl! Please don't send your attack Hemiptera after me!

You know, I'm not that happy that three of the five best sites out there are by vertebrate palaeontologists - I am a full subscriber to the rule that invertebrate workers must be resentful about the disproportionate amount of attention that vertebrates receive - but I have no choice but to recognise excellence when present. In the meantime, all you entomologists, helminthologists, botanists, protistologists, etc. out there - show yourselves!

Addendum: Arguably more worthy of comment than the shortage of non-vertebrate blogs, Sheril Kirshenbaum at The Intersection and GrrlScientist have both asked why the blog-lists are so biased towards male rather than female bloggers. All I can say in reply is "beats me". A glance at my own blogroll shows more links to blogs by men than women, though I don't believe I've had any conscious bias in selecting one rather than the other. This seems particularly odd for biology - while there are probably still more male professors, my impression as an undergraduate was that, if anything, there are more female biology students arriving these days than male students, and I see no real signs of female students thinning out at the postgraduate level either. Why is scientific blogging seemingly less appealing for women? Or are there plenty of scientific blogs by women out there that I haven't had the fortune to come across?


  1. (googles aspondylology) Only your blog comes up though lol. I figured it out from though for spondylalgia. Nice neologism! You didn't make that up yourself did you??

    Thanks for the blogger props! As one half of your current subscribership, I resemble that remark.

    [Have guitar, will describe species]

  2. Yes I did make it up myself (and thank you to Perseus Tools for their very useful Greek dictionary).

    It's not the size of the readership that counts, it's who's doing the reading. [runs off sobbing]

  3. I have 4-5 female science bloggers and 18-19 male science bloggers in my blogroll. I have three of each gender to add when I have my computer back and can edit my non-blog pages.

    If you go to, say, On being a scientist and a woman or YoungFemaleScientist you'll see most of their blogrolls are women. But almost all of them are blogging about being a woman in science. Sure, it's a serious issue (the unspoken and sometimes very vocally spoken fact that women pretty much have to decide between tenure and kids being a major problem), but I sometimes wonder if us girls (and I've been guilty of it myself) get so worked up with this part of science that we don't always sit and concentrate on the actual research, which is what the rest of the population would like to read about.

    I have never read a blog post from a guy complaining about the tribulations of being a man in academia. Nor have I read a science-based blog which focusses quite so much on the male blogger's offspring. A few of them do have kids, but their mention has been mostly just a token photo of kid with bone.

    But then again, I've noticed that women are far gushier about how wonderful their spawn is than men are.

    Anyway, thank you very much for your recommendation. I have a few posts in mind for today, and I'll try to keep the quality up!

  4. Thank you for the plug! I'd prefer that, should we meet, you don't go with the teeth-kicking option, hah. Still, I think the sheer bulk of posts makes up for my lack of overall understanding; based upon your comments, Chris, you seem to have a much stronger background in many of the subjects I cover, and your posts are far more detailed. In fact I sometimes feel like my posts don't quite measure up to the more rigorous writings here and elsewhere, but everyone's got their own style, I suppose. In any case, thank you very much, and keep the great posts coming.

  5. thanks for noticing me, chris, and i am especially pleased that you liked the salmon + salmon = trout? story. i had fun writing it.

    julia; i think that women science blog writers are more gushy about their kids because even though they are scientists, they still provide most of the child care, so they spend more time with their kids and more time thinking about their kids when they aren't with them.

    although, do spend a lot of time thinking about my parrots, but i deliberately do not metnion them on my blog (i am rethinking that stance right now, as a matter of fact).

    anyway, it's just some food for thought.

  6. Thank you for your subscribership.

  7. thanks for the notice (and they're attack -homoptera- :p )

    You have reminded me I really need to update my blog roll--I've been so busy this summer I haven't added lots of people (like you!) that need to be there.

  8. Away with the Homoptera thing! But attack Auchenorrhyncha just doesn't have the same ring to it.


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