Andrew Granville and Jennifer Granville on Prime Suspects

What inspired you to write this book?

Andrew: I had written quite a few “popular” articles, that had been well received inside the academic community. However I realized, at some point, that the furthest outside this community that read my articles seemed to be very keen high school teachers who organized statewide math competitions. I want to reach a much wider audience.

Jennifer: Andrew’s original idea was to write a screenplay that would be another way of communicating his mathematical ideas.  I brought expertise in screenwriting, Andrew brought the math.  The screenplay was given a rehearsed reading, with some contemporary, illustrative performance elements,at the Wolfson Auditorium at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. In the audience was Vickie Kearn from PUP. Vickie was the one who had the vision to suggest we could turn the work into a graphic novel – so I guess you could say it was Vickie who inspired us to actually ‘write the book’!

Why did you choose to specifically focus on integers and permutations in this graphic novel?

Andrew: I had thought it would make a good subject for a popular article. The extraordinary similarities between their “anatomies” is intriguing and I have been trying to popularize this within the research community. Since we started this project – which was over ten years ago – this area has really taken off.

How did you develop Prime Suspects‘ story, and from where did you draw inspiration?

Jennifer:  Andrew suggested that Integer and Permutation could be personified into murder victims who, forensic mathematical examination would prove via DNA, were twins. This was enough for me to begin to develop a narrative using all the genres I love to read and watch – noir movies, Chandler novels, the TV police procedural.

Prime Suspects is filled with “cameos” from famous mathematicians, as well as pop culture figures like Kevin Smith’s Silent Bob. There are also a lot of interesting ‘props’ and backgrounds peppering the pages. What inspired you to include these fun appearances?

Andrew: A story has more color if there is an interesting background and context. To my mind, a Hitchcock or a Tarantino movie is as intriguing for what, and who, is in the background as for what is in the foreground. I love those extra details. All of the appearances were inspired by the story.

What do you think an average comic book reader will enjoy about Prime Suspects, even if they don’t regularly read trade math books?

Andrew This is an attempt to be very very different. It is the proof of a theorem, developed as a detective story, in which the detective story in prominent, and the mathematics is by metaphor. Any reader can enjoy the art and the story, and try to be comfortable with as much of the mathematics as works for them.

Jennifer:  I am far from being any kind of mathematician, none of the the artists involved – the illustrator, colourist, letterer – are mathematicians, but we are all comic book fans and have all thoroughly enjoyed the process of bringing the story to life without understanding any of the deeper math. One of our characters compares the math to poetry – you don’t have to understand every word, every beat, in order to appreciate the beauty or to feel a concept. As described above, there are masses of cameos and loads of references to movies, books and contemporary culture, so I hope that readers will find plenty to enjoy.

There are so many interactive elements to Prime Suspects, including an original score. What inspired you to include so many creative elements with the text?

Jennifer:  These happened organically. To give one example, very early on in the project’s life, when we were just about to do the reading at Princeton, Andrew was seated at at a conference dinner next to a math hobbyist, Robert Schneider. Andrew told him about the screenplay and Robert was fascinated and excited and explaining that he was indie rock musician, asked if he could compose music to be played live at the reading. As it happened there is a major clue in the story, that involves a piece of music, so Robert ended up composing a real piece of music – that reflects the Sieve of Eratosthenes. There is now a QR code on the relevant page of the graphic novel, that allows the reader to play that piece of music. As a post script to that story, Robert is now a rock musician and a Math professor at UGA.

What did you find most exciting about taking your love for mathematics and putting it into a graphic novel? What did you find most challenging?

Andrew:  I had experience at writing “popular” articles, and my writing in that area has been well received. However, when trying to create a fictional story around my ideas, I found that my writing skills did not translate to this new setting. I had no idea how to develop a story and characters. Although a mathematics article should have a narrative, this is very different from writing dramatic narrative.  Working with Jennifer proved to be exciting, as together we were able to apply dramatic narrative techniques, and I could see ideas I had been thinking about for a long time take shape on the page. A major challenge has been to keep the integrity of the math whilst ensuring the story makes sense.  Where to explain the math and where to allow that the audience will all have different levels of understanding and accept that not everyone will understand everything.  Thus our narrator says, early on, that we are in a world in which you do not need to understand everything to understand something.

Jennifer:  This whole project has been a challenge because I never did have ‘a love for mathematics’ but that is what has made it exciting.  I failed math at school and it has always been a completely mysterious world to me. I could only observe my brother’s world, his passion, from the outside. The opportunity to share that world, to see it from the inside, has been a massive privilege and education. I am a prime example (pun intended) of someone who doesn’t understand everything, but who, now, does understand something.

 

Andrew Granville is the Canada Research Chair in Number Theory at the University of Montreal and professor of mathematics at University College London. Jennifer Granville is an educator, award-winning film and theater producer, writer, and director.

Bird Fact Friday: the Dark-eyed Junco (as seen on BirdGenie!)

This week’s Bird Fact Friday highlights the Dark-eyed Junco, as seen on BirdGenie. Here are some interesting facts about the bird:

  • The Dark-eyed Junco is a flashy gray sparrow.
  • This is one of the most common North American birds.
  • These birds spend summers in the forests of Canada and the Rockies, and their winters in the US, typically in woodlands, fields, roadsides, and backyards.
  • They can often be found in flocks, hopping on the ground.
  • These medium sized sparrows have dark gray or brown upper parts and are pale bellow, with a pink bill. They flash white outer-tail feathers in flight.
  • They have a diverse appearance, with 15 races, six of them separable in the field.
  • These birds are seed-eaters, occasionally eating insects during breeding season.
  • They usually nest on the ground.
  • Lifespan is up to 11years in the wild.
  • Population: 630 million and declining.

Have you seen (or heard) a Dark-eyed Junco?

 

BirdGenie

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ you can:

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording
  • Keep a log of all your recordings
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™:

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models)
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs)

Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

Dino Day: An Unnamed Species

Adapted from page 58:

This unnamed species is from the late Upper Cretaceous (Maastrichtian, ca. 72.1–66 Ma) of central Laurasia (present-day European Russia). It is a large tooth that, compared to the other dromaeosaurids, must have been the largest. It was a raptor heavier than a brown bear, capable of killing prey even greater than itself. Recently it has been discovered that the body proportions of dromaeosaurids and velociraptorids were different. They had shorter faces, ser- rated teeth, longer legs, and shorter bodies and tails. All this substantially changes their former popular aspect.

 

 

Dinosaur Facts and Figures: The Theropods and Other Dinosauriformes
By Rubén Molina-Pérez and Asier Larramendi
Illustrations byAndrey Atuchin and Sante Mazzei

The theropod dinosaurs ruled the planet for millions of years, with species ranging from the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex to feathered raptors no bigger than turkeys. Dinosaur Facts and Figures is a stunningly illustrated book of records for these marvelous creatures—such as the biggest, the smallest, and the fastest theropods, as well as the ones with the most powerful bite.

This one-of-a-kind compendium features more than 3,000 records, covers some 750 theropod species, and includes a wealth of illustrations ranging from diagrams and technical drawings to full-color reconstructions of specimens. The book is divided into sections that put numerous amazing theropod facts at your fingertips. “Comparing Species” is organized by taxonomic group and gives comparisons of the size of species, how long ago they lived, and when they were discovered. “Mesozoic Calendar” includes spreads showing the positions of the continents at different geological time periods and reconstructions of creatures from each period. “Prehistoric Puzzle” compares bones, teeth, and feathers while “Theropod Life” uses vivid, user-friendly graphics to answer questions such as which dinosaur was the smartest and which had the most powerful bite. Other sections chart theropod distribution on the contemporary world map, provide comprehensive illustrated listings of footprints, compile the physical specifications of all known theropods and Mesozoic birds, and much more.

  • The essential illustrated record book for anyone interested in dinosaurs
  • Features thousands of records on everything from the smartest and fastest theropods to the largest theropod eggs
  • Includes more than 2,000 diagrams and drawings and more than 300 digital reconstructions
  • Covers more than 750 theropod species, including Mesozoic birds and other dinosauromorphs
  • Provides detailed listings of footprints, biometric specifications, and scholarly and popular references

Bird Fact Friday: the American Crow (as seen on BirdGenie!)

This week’s Bird Fact Friday highlights the American Crow, as seen on BirdGenie. Here are some interesting facts about the bird:

  • The American Crow is all-black, large and intelligent, with instances of tool use and problem solving.
  • These birds are widespread across North America and can be found in a variety of habitats.
  • Black with a heavy, straight bill, rows are much larger than blackbirds.
  • They have a loud, hoarse caw and their flight has a distinctive “rowing” motion.
  • Often seen in flocks, some crows roosts number into the hundred-thousands.
  • Flocks may “mob” owls and raptors to chase them off.
  • They infrequently visit feeders; their wide diet includes insects, invertebrates, fruit, garbage, seed, carrion, and small animals.
  • Young are often raised by family groups
  • Lifespan is up to 16 years in the wild, and over 50 in captivity.
  • Population: 30 million and stable.

Have you seen (or heard) an American Crow?

 

BirdGenie

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ you can:

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording
  • Keep a log of all your recordings
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™:

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models)
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs)

Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

Insect of the Week: Managed & Wild Colonies

Adapted from pages 3-5 of Following the Wild Bees:

Wherever there are honey bees, there exist both managed colonies living in beekeepers’ hives and wild colonies living in tree cavities, rock clefts, and the walls of buildings. While it is true that managed and wild honey bee colonies lead rather different lives— the former are manipulated to produce honey and pollinate crops, whereas the latter are left alone and can do whatever boosts their survival and reproduction— the bees in both types of colonies are virtually identical. The members of these two groups look, function, and act so similarly because the two groups have essentially the same genetic composition. This genetic similarity is a consequence of the frequent swapping of genes between the managed and wild colonies living in the same geographical area. Part of this genetic exchange between the two groups arises because the colonies living in beekeepers’ hives produce swarms that escape and then lead lives in the wild, while at the same time the colonies living in natural abodes produce swarms that beekeepers collect and then install in their hives.

The exchange of genes between managed and wild colonies also takes place in a second, more sensational way: the curious sexual behavior of honey bees. Every queen bee mates on the wing with 15– 20 males drawn from the neighboring colonies living within four or so miles from her home. This shameless promiscuity of queen honey bees evolved because high genetic diversity among a queen bee’s female offspring— that is, the workers in her colony— is essential to her colony’s health. These days, it also has the effect of blending the genes in the managed and the wild colonies living in the same region. Incidentally, this extensive gene flow between managed and wild colonies explains why humans haven’t created distinct breeds of honey bees through selective breeding, analogous to what has been done in the domestication of dogs, horses, and sheep.

Following the Wild Bees: The Craft and Science of Bee Hunting
By Tom Seeley

Following the Wild Bees is a delightful foray into the pastime of bee hunting, an exhilarating outdoor activity that used to be practiced widely but which few people know about today. Weaving informative discussions of bee biology with colorful anecdotes, personal insights, and beautiful photos, Thomas Seeley describes the history and science behind this lost pastime and how anyone can do it. The bee hunter’s reward is a thrilling encounter with nature that challenges mind and body while also giving insights into the remarkable behavior of honey bees living in the wild. Whether you’re a bee enthusiast or just curious about the natural world, this book is the ideal companion for newcomers to bee hunting and a rare treat for armchair naturalists.

 

Dino Day: Therizinosaurus cheloniformis

Adapted from page 50:

The Therizinosaurus cheloniformis (“tortoise-shaped scythe lizard”): Lived during the late Upper Cretaceous (lower Maastrichtian, 72.1–69 Ma) in eastern Laurasia (present-day Mongolia). It was known only for its huge nails, which seemed to be part of the shell of a giant turtle over 3 m long. Later, a few more bones were found, including a practically complete anterior limb that was 2.5 m long. Along with Deinocheirus, they had the largest arms among the theropods. Their nails had the appearance of scythes, which must have been impressive when fully extended. When compared with other therizinosaurids, such as Nothronychus, it is concluded that this arm must have belonged to an animal bigger than an Asian elephant.

 

 

Dinosaur Facts and Figures: The Theropods and Other Dinosauriformes
By Rubén Molina-Pérez and Asier Larramendi
Illustrations byAndrey Atuchin and Sante Mazzei

The theropod dinosaurs ruled the planet for millions of years, with species ranging from the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex to feathered raptors no bigger than turkeys. Dinosaur Facts and Figures is a stunningly illustrated book of records for these marvelous creatures—such as the biggest, the smallest, and the fastest theropods, as well as the ones with the most powerful bite.

This one-of-a-kind compendium features more than 3,000 records, covers some 750 theropod species, and includes a wealth of illustrations ranging from diagrams and technical drawings to full-color reconstructions of specimens. The book is divided into sections that put numerous amazing theropod facts at your fingertips. “Comparing Species” is organized by taxonomic group and gives comparisons of the size of species, how long ago they lived, and when they were discovered. “Mesozoic Calendar” includes spreads showing the positions of the continents at different geological time periods and reconstructions of creatures from each period. “Prehistoric Puzzle” compares bones, teeth, and feathers while “Theropod Life” uses vivid, user-friendly graphics to answer questions such as which dinosaur was the smartest and which had the most powerful bite. Other sections chart theropod distribution on the contemporary world map, provide comprehensive illustrated listings of footprints, compile the physical specifications of all known theropods and Mesozoic birds, and much more.

  • The essential illustrated record book for anyone interested in dinosaurs
  • Features thousands of records on everything from the smartest and fastest theropods to the largest theropod eggs
  • Includes more than 2,000 diagrams and drawings and more than 300 digital reconstructions
  • Covers more than 750 theropod species, including Mesozoic birds and other dinosauromorphs
  • Provides detailed listings of footprints, biometric specifications, and scholarly and popular references

Bird Fact Friday: the House Sparrow (as seen on BirdGenie!)

This week’s Bird Fact Friday highlights the House Sparrow, as seen on BirdGenie. Here are some interesting facts about the bird:

  • The House Sparrow is a chunky, urban colonist. Introduced to Brooklyn, NY in 1851, these birds are now common in urban and suburban areas across North America.
  • These are large, large-headed sparrows.
  • They are unrelated to the native North American sparrows.
  • Primarily, these birds are seed eaters, with some insects taken during breeding season. They can often be found at feeders.
  • Generally, these sparrows nest in man-made structures, often aggressively competing for nest boxes.
  • They have a lifespan of up to 15years.
  • Population: 82 million and declining.

Have you seen (or heard) a House Sparrow?

 

BirdGenie

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ you can:

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording
  • Keep a log of all your recordings
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™:

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models)
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs)

Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

Insect of the Week: Defending Honey Bee Colonies

Adapted from pages 243-244 of The Lives of Bees:

Every living system faces a legion of predators, parasites, and pathogens, each of which is equipped with a sophisticated tool kit for penetrating the defenses of its prey or host. In the case of a honey bee colony, there are several hundred species, ranging from viruses to black bears, whose members are forever trying to breach the bees’ defenses. What makes a bee colony so attractive to so many is, of course, the store of delicious honey and the horde of nutritious brood that lies inside its nest. In summer, the combs inside a bee hive or a bee tree typically hold 10 or more kilograms (20- plus pounds) of honey, plus thousands of immature bees (eggs, larvae, and pupae). Moreover, these brood items are neatly packed together in the warm center of the bees’ nest, making them an absolute bonanza for any viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and mites that succeed in infecting or infesting this host of developing bees. Clearly, a colony of honey bees is an immensely desirable target. It is also a perfectly stationary target. Because a colony’s beeswax combs are a huge energetic investment, and because these combs are often filled with brood and food, a honey bee colony cannot afford to find safety by fleeing its home when threatened. Instead, it must cope with its foes by standing its ground, and usually its succeeds, by drawing on a sophisticated arsenal of biochemical, morphological, and behavioral weapons. 

Given that honey bees have a 30- million- year history, it is likely that most of the relationships between Apis mellifera and its predators and agents of disease are long- established. We can expect, therefore, that colonies living undisturbed in the wild possess defense mechanisms that usually prevent pathogens and parasites from multiplying sufficiently to cause severe disease. Indeed, it is likely that wild colonies of honey bees have perpetual, endemic infections of parasites and pathogens, and it is also likely that symptoms of disease arise in these colonies only when they are weakened by adverse environmental circumstances, such as food shortages or damage to their nests. We will see, however, that the balance of power between the bees and their pathogens and parasites can be upset by intrusive beekeeping practices, and that these practices can lead to severe losses of colonies.

The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild
By Tom Seeley

Humans have kept honey bees in hives for millennia, yet only in recent decades have biologists begun to investigate how these industrious insects live in the wild. The Lives of Bees is Thomas Seeley’s captivating story of what scientists are learning about the behavior, social life, and survival strategies of honey bees living outside the beekeeper’s hive—and how wild honey bees may hold the key to reversing the alarming die-off of the planet’s managed honey bee populations.

Seeley, a world authority on honey bees, sheds light on why wild honey bees are still thriving while those living in managed colonies are in crisis. Drawing on the latest science as well as insights from his own pioneering fieldwork, he describes in extraordinary detail how honey bees live in nature and shows how this differs significantly from their lives under the management of beekeepers. Seeley presents an entirely new approach to beekeeping—Darwinian Beekeeping—which enables honey bees to use the toolkit of survival skills their species has acquired over the past thirty million years, and to evolve solutions to the new challenges they face today. He shows beekeepers how to use the principles of natural selection to guide their practices, and he offers a new vision of how beekeeping can better align with the natural habits of honey bees.

Engagingly written and deeply personal, The Lives of Bees reveals how we can become better custodians of honey bees and make use of their resources in ways that enrich their lives as well as our own.

Dino Day: Bonapartenykus ultimus

Adapted from page 50:

The Bonapartenykus ultimus (“last claw of the paleontologist José Fernando Bonaparte”) came from the late Upper Cretaceous (Campanian, ca. 83.6–72.1 Ma) of western Gondwana (present-day Argentina). The only known specimen is a female that had two internal eggs called Arraigadoolithus patagonicus. Although it is not known precisely what their food source was, it has been suggested that some were either insectivores or omnivores. So it is not surprising that the largest alvarezsaurids were similar in size to today’s largest mammal insectivore, the yurumí (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), or giant anteater.

Many alvarezauroids are the smallest terrestrial theropods. Even the largest species do not stand out. Patagonykus puertai (“Patagonian claw, by Pablo Puerta”) from the early Upper Cretaceous and Achillesaurus manazzonei (“Achilles lizard of Rafael Manazzone”) from the late Upper Cretaceous, both from the western zone of Gondwana (present-day Argentina), were about 2.8 m long and weighed 30 kg. They were very close in size to Bonapartenykus ultimus, but it is unknown if they were adults. .

Dinosaur Facts and Figures: The Theropods and Other Dinosauriformes
By Rubén Molina-Pérez and Asier Larramendi
Illustrations byAndrey Atuchin and Sante Mazzei

The theropod dinosaurs ruled the planet for millions of years, with species ranging from the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex to feathered raptors no bigger than turkeys. Dinosaur Facts and Figures is a stunningly illustrated book of records for these marvelous creatures—such as the biggest, the smallest, and the fastest theropods, as well as the ones with the most powerful bite.

This one-of-a-kind compendium features more than 3,000 records, covers some 750 theropod species, and includes a wealth of illustrations ranging from diagrams and technical drawings to full-color reconstructions of specimens. The book is divided into sections that put numerous amazing theropod facts at your fingertips. “Comparing Species” is organized by taxonomic group and gives comparisons of the size of species, how long ago they lived, and when they were discovered. “Mesozoic Calendar” includes spreads showing the positions of the continents at different geological time periods and reconstructions of creatures from each period. “Prehistoric Puzzle” compares bones, teeth, and feathers while “Theropod Life” uses vivid, user-friendly graphics to answer questions such as which dinosaur was the smartest and which had the most powerful bite. Other sections chart theropod distribution on the contemporary world map, provide comprehensive illustrated listings of footprints, compile the physical specifications of all known theropods and Mesozoic birds, and much more.

  • The essential illustrated record book for anyone interested in dinosaurs
  • Features thousands of records on everything from the smartest and fastest theropods to the largest theropod eggs
  • Includes more than 2,000 diagrams and drawings and more than 300 digital reconstructions
  • Covers more than 750 theropod species, including Mesozoic birds and other dinosauromorphs
  • Provides detailed listings of footprints, biometric specifications, and scholarly and popular references

Bird Fact Friday: the Red-winged Blackbird (as seen on BirdGenie!)

This week’s Bird Fact Friday highlights the Red-winged Blackbird, as seen on BirdGenie. Here are some interesting facts about the bird:

  • The Red-winged Blackbird is a conspicuous, wetland-dwelling herald of spring.
  • These birds are abundant throughout the US year-round and into Canada in summer.
  • They prefer wetlands; can also be found in open areas and feeders during the winter and migration. They may from large mixed flocks in winter.
  • They are sleek, all black, with variable red and yellow shoulder patches. Female plumage is streaked brown and sparrow-like, with a conical bill.
  • In the spring, males sing territorial “conk-a-ree” songs throughout the day.
  • Diets mainly consist of insects in summer, seeds in winter.
  • They nest polygamously, with males having up to 15 female partners. Typically, they build their nests in low marsh vegetation.
  • They have a lifespan of up to 15years.
  • Population: 190 million and stable.

Have you seen (or heard) a Mallard?

 

BirdGenie

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ you can:

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording
  • Keep a log of all your recordings
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™:

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models)
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs)

Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

Insect of the Week: Food Collection for Honey Bees

Adapted from pages 187-191 of The Lives of Bees:

Worker bee flying home bearing loads of yellow- green pollen on her hind legs and a load of nectar in her crop (honey stomach). That she is carrying a nectar load is indicated by the distension and translucence of her abdomen.

We generally think of a honey bee colony as a family of bees living inside a bee hive or a hollow tree. A moment’s reflection will disclose, however, the important fact that during the daytime many of the bees in a colony are dispersed far and wide over the surrounding countryside, where they toil to gather their colony’s food. To accomplish this, each forager bee flies as far as 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) to a patch of flowers, gathers a load of nectar or pollen, and then flies home, where she quickly off- loads her food and then heads out on her next collecting trip. On a typical day, a colony will field several thousand worker bees, or about one- third of its members, as foragers. Thus, in acquiring its food, a honey bee colony functions as a large, diffuse, amoeboid entity that can extend itself over great distances and in multiple directions simultaneously to exploit a vast array of food sources. To succeed in gathering the pollen and nectar it needs, a colony must closely monitor the food sources within its environment, and it must wisely deploy its foragers among these sources so that its food is gathered efficiently, in sufficient quantity, and with the correct nutritional mix. The colony must also properly apportion the food it gathers between present consumption and storage for future needs. Moreover, it must accomplish all these things in the face of constantly changing conditions, both outside the nest as foraging opportunities come and go, and inside the nest as the colony’s nutritional needs change with the seasons.

Pollen, nectar, and water are the substances most commonly gathered by a colony’s foragers. But during late summer and early fall, if you keep a close watch at a hive’s entrance, you will also spy a few bees returning home with shiny brown loads of tree resin stuck in their pollen baskets. As discussed in chapter 5, the bees jam this gluey material into cracks and small holes in the walls of their nest cavity, making their home more weathertight and easier to defend. We also saw that they use this resin to coat the walls of their nest cavity because it has antimicrobial properties that promote colony health. 

The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild
By Tom Seeley

Humans have kept honey bees in hives for millennia, yet only in recent decades have biologists begun to investigate how these industrious insects live in the wild. The Lives of Bees is Thomas Seeley’s captivating story of what scientists are learning about the behavior, social life, and survival strategies of honey bees living outside the beekeeper’s hive—and how wild honey bees may hold the key to reversing the alarming die-off of the planet’s managed honey bee populations.

Seeley, a world authority on honey bees, sheds light on why wild honey bees are still thriving while those living in managed colonies are in crisis. Drawing on the latest science as well as insights from his own pioneering fieldwork, he describes in extraordinary detail how honey bees live in nature and shows how this differs significantly from their lives under the management of beekeepers. Seeley presents an entirely new approach to beekeeping—Darwinian Beekeeping—which enables honey bees to use the toolkit of survival skills their species has acquired over the past thirty million years, and to evolve solutions to the new challenges they face today. He shows beekeepers how to use the principles of natural selection to guide their practices, and he offers a new vision of how beekeeping can better align with the natural habits of honey bees.

Engagingly written and deeply personal, The Lives of Bees reveals how we can become better custodians of honey bees and make use of their resources in ways that enrich their lives as well as our own.

Dino Day: Bistahieversor sealeyi

Adapted from page 44:

The Bistahieversor sealeyi lived during the late Upper Cretaceous (Campanian, ca. 78–72.1 Ma) in western Laurasia (present-day New Mexico, USA). It was a sturdy carnivore with an appearance similar to tyrannosaurids, leading it to be known previously as Aublysodon cf. mirandus or Daspletosaurus. At the end of the Cretaceous in western North America (paleocontinent Laramidia), tyrannosauroid derivatives were replaced by tyrannosaurids. In the east (Appalachia), where there was no exchange of fauna with Asia.

From the late Lower Cretaceous (Valanginian, ca. 139.8–132.9 Ma) area of eastern Laurasia (present-day Mongolia). The incomplete remains of a maxillary tooth and a tibia and a fibula that are about 1 m long are attributed to Prodeinodon mongoliensis, although these remains can not be compared with this species.

Dinosaur Facts and Figures: The Theropods and Other Dinosauriformes
By Rubén Molina-Pérez and Asier Larramendi
Illustrations byAndrey Atuchin and Sante Mazzei

The theropod dinosaurs ruled the planet for millions of years, with species ranging from the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex to feathered raptors no bigger than turkeys. Dinosaur Facts and Figures is a stunningly illustrated book of records for these marvelous creatures—such as the biggest, the smallest, and the fastest theropods, as well as the ones with the most powerful bite.

This one-of-a-kind compendium features more than 3,000 records, covers some 750 theropod species, and includes a wealth of illustrations ranging from diagrams and technical drawings to full-color reconstructions of specimens. The book is divided into sections that put numerous amazing theropod facts at your fingertips. “Comparing Species” is organized by taxonomic group and gives comparisons of the size of species, how long ago they lived, and when they were discovered. “Mesozoic Calendar” includes spreads showing the positions of the continents at different geological time periods and reconstructions of creatures from each period. “Prehistoric Puzzle” compares bones, teeth, and feathers while “Theropod Life” uses vivid, user-friendly graphics to answer questions such as which dinosaur was the smartest and which had the most powerful bite. Other sections chart theropod distribution on the contemporary world map, provide comprehensive illustrated listings of footprints, compile the physical specifications of all known theropods and Mesozoic birds, and much more.

  • The essential illustrated record book for anyone interested in dinosaurs
  • Features thousands of records on everything from the smartest and fastest theropods to the largest theropod eggs
  • Includes more than 2,000 diagrams and drawings and more than 300 digital reconstructions
  • Covers more than 750 theropod species, including Mesozoic birds and other dinosauromorphs
  • Provides detailed listings of footprints, biometric specifications, and scholarly and popular references