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brachiosteve last won the day on May 8

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  1. Welcome! Please introduce yourself here. Key information will be youyr name, country of origin or habitation and your language(s) spoken (and to what level of competance), plus your availability, e.g. as and when avaialable, when needed, willing to be contacted etc. Typical language competancies are: Native speaker. It is your first, natural or joint language. Fluent with good vocabulary or can write lioke natives do. Fluent. Very good. Good. OK Conversational
  2. Welcome to the translation Group. There will be a Group leader and deputy, who welcome, look after, organise and help work and volunteers. This Group is responsible for translating, mainly from English to multiple other languages for a range of areas within the project, e.g. the Website, Explorer and documentation. Data entreded into the Explorer fields themselves, or in social media will not generally be translated, though we may introduce functionality or software or a link that can do this. A google sheet or other document will be used to work from, which will be in a prefered format for developers and explained where needed. Any work is likely to be intermitent and ongoing. To be on call to help when available or needded is appreciated. Group members will be helping to expand accessibility from millions to billions.
  3. until
    Meeting Joao to discuss Data entry.
  4. Dear Philkallar. Thanks for coming and commenting. We'd love to have you. We can discuss our more urgent needs and other things and how you could help. Do you do video, too? Ask to join Fcebbok and I'll get you in. Steve
  5. https://www.thescienceandspace.com/2019/05/the-high-pollution-in-oceans-is-big.html?fbclid=IwAR0JXtvzRxfmttMYBU1305_-FdUpuIZzXyXB0l5Xrzv88xjhjxrUFJzpqKg
  6. Thanks, Justin, well spotted! Have updated.
  7. More Axolotls. The axolotl (water monster) is one of my favourite animals. Despite what expert, ‘Linda Adkins’ says in her book, ‘Keeping Axolotls’, it is not a reptile. They are in a genus of 32 salamanders; salamanders are newts, (Caudata) which are amphibians, along with frogs and toads (Anura) and the wider caecilians (Gymnophiona). Other orders existed in the past. It’s from freshwater lakes and caves in Mexico and considered critically endangered on the IUCN register, but they are very popular as pets (and in labs). I can only imagine that there are captive breeding programmes, which enables the laws of the world to allow them to be pets, given their rare status. Axolotls exhibit neoteny , meaning that they reach sexual maturity without undergoing metamorphosis. Many species within the axolotl's genus are either entirely neotenic or have neotenic populations. In the axolotl, metamorphic failure is caused by a lack of thyroid stimulsating hormone, which is used to induce the thyroid to produce thyroxine in transforming salamanders. The genes responsible for neoteny in laboratory animals may have been identified; however, they are not linked in wild populations, suggesting artificial selection is the cause of complete neoteny in laboratory and pet axolotls. Thyroid hormone contains a lot of iodine, which is taken from the food chain. In the wild, where iodine is scarce (like high mountain lakes), transformation won’t take place and more extreme shortages leads to cretinism and dwarfism, as it does in humans. Pet Axolotls are largely chosen for their looks and their entirely aquatic existence in their juvenile state. Another amazing thing about Axolotls, is their ability to regenerate. Humans can regenerate. Surgical leg extensions or amputated limbs can increase a little, e.g. the skin regenerates and covers gaps. Reptiles do it a lot better, despite significant scaring, and many inverts can do it. Spiders and some lizards and salamanders can release limbs, ‘at will’ when needed and regenerate them. This is called autotomy. Some inverts can regenerate entirely, even if cut into pieces with each part regenerating to a new organism. Axolotls though are special, because they are vertebrates, and this interests science and medicine greatly. Axolotls rarely leave scaring when regenerating and can even regenerate extra/additional limbs (as well as regenerated replacements). Regeneration is not limited to external body parts, but organs too. Even parts of the brain, heart and spinal column. Not only this, but they transplant really well too. Eyes, limbs or even an additional head (from another specimen) can be used and function. All tissue, muscle, nerves, blood vessels, cartilage, bone, spine etc. can be regenerated and host/donor organs even welcomed. If the limb (or even partial limb) from a standard specimen is transplanted to an albino specimen, the specimen will use the limb’s own genetics, so it will have, and grow and work simultaneously with the normal (non-albino) limb. After amputation, the cells at the damage site (be they blood or skin cells or whatever) transform into stem-like cells to regenerate the whole limb/site. This is one reason there is no scaring, unlike other animals, and there is obviously great potential for burn or scar or disfigurement skin graft work in other animals like humans. Axolotls are also 100 x more resistant to cancer than any other animal. By genetically adding bio-luminescent proteins (like exhibited in jellyfish), it is possible to add them to cancer cells to watch its spread/development through the body. The genome of the Axolotl has only recently (2018) been fully sequenced and it is the largest in the animal kingdom so far, with 32 billion base pairs, and there are a lot of similarities to us, which is really exciting to know. And a final piece of trivia. About 7 months ago in London, at the Tetrapod Zoological Conference, hosted by Darren Naish, there was an open quiz, which went down to a tie break. The final question was to see who could state, more accurately, the number of base pairs in an Axolotl. And the winner was… Alberta Nikus – our very own, who is an advisor, consultant, data entry scientist and PhD candidate, who was also a guest speaker at TetZooCon. Yes, we had two, with Aron Ra being the other, presenting the Project. So, we had two speakers from the Project! I’d love Albert to do a guest blog here or similar on his specialist area of Pterosaurs/birds (or anything he likes). He did a great presentation at Tetzoocon and it was such a pleasure to meet such a nice guy. I also have other people in mind for a blog. Watch this space.
  8. Ape-man. There is a chicken/egg misunderstanding from all sides about evolution, that because, we (humans for example) evolved from other apes, monkeys (similiformes), primates and mammals etc. that this means a non-human once gave birth to a human. This has many implications beyond biology of course. But this is in fact not the case. If you were to go back and observe actual real time events, this is a scenario you would and could not experience. Taxonomically of course, the egg came before the chicken, because eggs pre-date chickens. “No non-human has ever given birth to a human, and all humans will only ever give birth or rise to humans.” This may seem like an irreconcilable contradiction, but the square can be rounded. Because it is a real square circle, and the fuller realisation happened quite recently for me, by way of a respected member of the PEP Facebook group. First, many of us have been tricked or fooled by some misused words, like intermediate, gaps, transition, macro/micro evolution or missing link. By using them, we can easily be forgiven for reading into them, seeing implications or believing them. The problem is, they imply a stepped process or clear distinctions, when the reality is a smooth and seamless spectrum. Speciation though, is a population issue. A new species is a group, perhaps separated and sufficiently genetically different so as not to be able to interbreed any longer with its direct ancestors. They (or it) will always be able to reproduce with its parent or child and relatively close family, (and therefore is the same species) probably for centuries or millennium, or with relatives that are still alive, but separated by some time and/or geography. As a species is something which is different from its predecessors (largely being unable to interbreed, largely by definition), then a parent is not a different species to its offspring or parents. This alone demonstrates that one species (e.g. a non-human ape species) cannot produce a human, or vice versa. Not directly anyway. Only time and/or geographical separation and/or genetic non-viability through change can make new species. So, the concept of a non-human producing a human occurs in population changes, not in individuals. You could not go back in time and observe an individual or couple, where its/their parents or offspring were a different species. It may be that, depending on definitions, Homo sapiens sapiens are the same species as gorillas or chimpanzees or bonobos and delegate a sub/sub species delineation. How so? Well it hasn’t been decisively proven one way or the other, whether viable offspring are possible. But we could define species by traits other than an ability to be inter-fertile. At what point did you evolve from your younger self? By way of a comparable example, if you take incremental photos of a human being between birth and death, and show them to a stranger at set (say, ten year) intervals, each will be unrecognisable from the other, to outsiders. But a close family member who sees the person on a daily basis, will see no change. Two perspectives but only one thing occurring. What do the missing links look like? Their parents and children. To state, suggest, imply or believe that a reptile turns into a mammal or similar, is to misunderstand, deceive or lie and mix up short term with long term events. A desolate river bank turns into a bustling city hub, but not if you stand and watch – it takes centuries or millennia to occur. The difference from A to Z is huge and unrecognisable on a macro scale, if the increments are big or long enough. But any single change or passing second will look almost identical to that immediately or shortly before or after – like evolution or the seamlessly incremental development of a single human being from birth to death, when observed in real time. A reptile and a mammal are largely very different in many ways. Quite often, it isn’t that a modern mammal had to have had intermediate looking ancestors to a modern reptile, like a direct line, filling in the, ‘gaps’ to try to imagine what it might have looked like, or putting a fanciful reptile head on a mammal body. You can’t pick a random mammal and a random reptile and assume there must be things that now (or once) look(ed) like something in between. Evolution does not work that way. It is more a case of looking back over their very different looking ancestries until we find a common genetically viable link from where they sprung and split into lineages, by micro/speciation events. So many people do not, but need to, understand this. Mechanisms in evolution are sometimes hard to grasp or explain and it is the duty of educators and this project, to bring this understanding in an understandable, exciting way to the masses. An alternative way to understand, is to ask, ‘at what exact point does a baby turn into a child? A child into a youth? To an adult? At what point are we old? The baby is clearly VERY different from the adult, but it is just about scales, and when they are so big, and we are absent for so long, it seems unbelievable. Not quite from a frog to a prince. If we show a 12th C person a computer, phone, camera aeroplane or car, it will seem supernatural and/or impossible. We may well be equally confused by something brought back from the future. This is all because we cannot imagine the progress that can be made. To even mention that evolution turns goo (or worse, rock) into people, or anything that suggests that anything occurs that is beyond the capability of nature, is to be lazy and attempts to emotionalise and bring the macro onto a micro scale. To miss this perspective is to deliberately deceive. Caterpillars turn into butterflies, zygotes and then babies turn into old people and a single celled organism turned into a person. It’s just about the scale of things. P.S. With regard to the post image, have a look at Lincoln Park zoo, gorilla birth and see what you find. The unedited photo was taken there, along with many others. Baby born 12th May 2019. Mother and baby doing well. Strong light can be deceiving. You can zoom into this image too, which might help.
  9. This is currently open, only to project contributors, be it sponsors, certified members, donors, those who work on the project in some way and specific invited guests. We invite you and/or anyone else who you feel might want to help/support us, the entire education programme and our non-profit work, and have access to this and upcoming exclusive benefits, to please do so, we really appreciate it. The Website: phylogenyexplorerproject.com or Forums: phylogenyexplorer.org both have clear signs to offer time or money, along with the Explorer itself, Facebook, twitter, contact us etc. We will endeavour to provide regular slots and invite contributors and contributions from near and far, wide and narrow. We will look for names you may have heard of and exclusives on new research and upcoming PhD theses. It may include project updates, articles of interest, educational, useful or informative blogs, rambles, quizzes or similar or related things of interest, be they funny, serious or otherwise/both. They are aimed at a more general audience, but there will undoubtedly be some science or more specialist content at times, but not unnecessarily. Whether you are an armchair observer, like to learn, teach, follow, share, contribute, support, help or advice, you are welcome. A big thank you to our Forums IT manager, WeareBorg and his team, for an awesome, quality and ongoing Forum job. Thank you for your interest and/or support. Steve Owen Director of Operations Phylogeny Explorer Project.
  10. Welcome, Dennis. I'm sure you'll be able to contribute in a great way.
  11. I am keen to move things forward on the project. One bottleneck is currently a shortage of volunteers, but even more importantly, I need a regular, management-type team to brainstorm, coordinate and take a lead in things. I am looking for a small working/discussion group of people to work with, to help me facilitate things and open the bottlenecks. We are currently entirely voluntary, (so this has different parameters to professional work) with everyone (except myself) only expected to work part time. There are various parts to the project, and whether it is social media, data entry/recruiting scientists or volunteers to fulfil various roles, like mods, admins or whatever, we need to have the infra-structure ready to receive them, with roles, documentation, guides, people to assist/train etc. (or we will disappoint and put people off as being unprofessional and unprepared – many a project downfall). I have a lot of this documentation already, and a range of such structures mapped out, but there may be better or easier ways to do this, and so if you think you may be able to help or help resolve or implement anything, please let me know. We can set up a hangout ASAP (which is easier than writing out a document at this stage). I’ll fill you in, I can take questions and with your help/ideas, we can talk and build some solid, practical stuff and put it into place and set (variable if need be) timeframes or whatever. You don’t particularly need skills in anything. Maybe together we could at least allocate ourselves suitable aspects to do and we can get back to meet. Open to ideas. Let me know.
  12. You would probably be surprised at how few people actually manage to sustain this project. We have an extremely small and understaffed, but committed and wonderful development team who maintain the Explorer, and they are desperately in need of additional support. If you even have fairly basic skills or experience in any language, you may be able to help, as training may become available. If you can or know someone or have ideas on how to recruit volunteers that we haven’t tried, please let us know. A new, detailed job/position list (for needs across the project) will appear on the new Website/Forums very soon, with a clear guide and filter system, where we will direct people from. The Explorer database/dendrogram itself works on/with Javascript, NodeJS, React, (fullstack), Mongo (DB) but some of this is changing too, but if your experience lies elsewhere, you may still be able to help. For now, you can let me know. Thanks.
  13. I hope you love the new Website/Forums. Whilst it will continually be developed, I hope you can see that it is a very HQ piece of work. A big shout out/THANK YOU!!! To our member, ‘WeareBorg’ for virtually single handedly building it. A chunk of our donations has gone towards this software. We told him what we wanted, he told us how much he needed and we gave it to him (all filed and accounted for of course!). I have happily appointed him as social media development manager, and he’s looking for help to work with him behind the scenes and administer/moderate the many social media sites we have now. The new location is the same name, but changes from .com to .org. .org is quite international, more associated with non-profit, and we will maintain .com in case of backup and we also run other things there anyway. So, the new Website/Forums are now at phylogenyexplorerproject.org I hope you like the header image and logo, which we now use across all social media. I secured/created a lot of the social media a long time ago, in preparation/anticipation of when we would be ready to use it, to ensure I secured the names in case anyone wanted to steal them as a bribe or sabotage. Borg has developed some of these and added new ones and they are linked at the bottom of the Web page. We also have some others (like Youtube all set up) which will be added shortly. All very exciting. So, we have many forums on related topics, (including ones to identify things or upload images for interest or use on the project); we have private and invite only areas, a blog area for viewing by any/all who contribute in any way, be it time or money. We have a Paypal donate area, a news section, subscribe to newsletter section, Slack-like working area (to replace current Slack, but IT/developers will still use that). We have a fully functioning retail shop, (ready to go when we get that aspect started – want to help?), we are building CRM and lots more. Tell us what you think, here, or in our ideas and suggestions feedback forum.
  14. I was talking to one of our members, Phil in Slack, and he informed me that Aron Ra had been stabbed in a protest in London! Being not the sort of thing that (at least), some would joke about, I took it seriously and couldn’t see anything on basic internet searches, so I went to his twitter account. Aron has been filming (in a non-PEP acting role for a full length film). Which was just as well, as I had arranged to meet him the next day. I met up with Aron earlier today (Wednesday 29th May) in my home location of South East London. We visited the Horniman Museum in Forrest Hill. We had an early morning private, (before opening hours), viewing/photo session with pre-selected exhibition displays opened up for us. The Horniman Museum is a place I like to visit regularly and I love it, and thought I should show it off to my guest. It is as strange looking as it is sounding, but in a truly delightful way. A Museum open to the public, featuring a century old private collection. The natural history exhibition is a wonderful display, mostly of evolution. Upstairs is a taxonomic, visual encyclopaedic trip around the animal kingdom, with fossil displays from different periods of time. Downstairs, there are displays of various aspects of evolution. This includes embryological development in different vertebrate classes, elephant, horse and human evolution, comparisons of convergence and the development of wings, fins, legs, armour, attack mechanisms etc. Despite it’s relatively small space, it crams a lot into very well presented displays and enough information to spend days learning, if you care to read and take in the many displays. There’s also an impressive taxidermy display of, largely birds. I have been to many museums around the world and with a focus, so heavily on evolution, (yeah!) and great thought, the Horniman is my favourite, despite its lack of large extinct skeletons and familiar dinosaurs. For anyone interested in Natural history, particularly animals and evolution, if anyone from home or abroad is anywhere near London, do try to visit. It also has wonderful and disproportionately large, beautiful and ornate gardens to walk round, plus a café, shop, and various other exhibitions which change throughout the year, plus a large basement aquarium and other exhibitions other than Natural history. The museum is a charity, and free to enter for most things, but do donate if you can – you are helping to support the exhibition maintenance and update, plus education for all who visit. I want to thank Alison McKay from the Press office and her colleague Stephanie Hay (who met, and stayed with us) for arranging the visit. Also, Joanne Hatton, curator of the Natural history exhibition, for showing us round and accommodating our visit before opening hours. After spending some time looking round after public opening, we concluded our visit by presenting Joanne, on behalf of the Phylogeny Explorer Project, with a modest cheque to the Museum. I highly recommend the Horniman Museum, especially if you are interested in animals, past and present and evolution in general for all ages. I am happy to link and recommend this Museum on the Phylogeny Explorer Project and perhaps there may be opportunities to collaborate in some way in the future. We also popped into my local exotic pet shop, had fish and chips and a Guinness lunch at my local pub, discussed project matters and looked over the brand new Forums (an awesome job, Borg!). Big thanks also, to our developers, Emmanuel and George. More gratitudes on upcoming posts. Steve Owen, Director of Operations at the Phylogeny Explorer Project.
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