I have one item to recommend and two pictures to show.
The first is Olivia Judson’s article on bacteria in an Antarctic volcano, “Life in an icy inferno,” in July’s National Geographic (you can read it for free). You may remember Judson from either her bestselling book, Aunt Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation, a winsome and evolutionarily-informed look at animal reproduction (Judson has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from Oxford), or from her several years of writing the “Wild Side” column for The New York Times.
At any rate, the piece is excellent in three respects. It shows the immense amount of preparation it takes to even visit the Antarctic, much less do research there (she camped on the slopes of the Antarctic volcano Mt. Erebus for two weeks), but interweaves this adventure tale with a scientific discussion about why researchers are looking for microbes in such a remote place (I’ll let you read the article to find out). Finally, it’s extremely well written.
And here are two photos sent me by pinch-blogger Matthew Cobb, who is in Vancouver this week giving a plenary talk at the 17th International Congress on Animal Reproduction. The first is from the BBC Nature News site, was communicated via Twitter by Helen Ward, and shows two northern gannets (Morus bassanus) engaged in courtship, which can apparently involves gifts of flowery necklaces. The caption is a bit anthropomorphic, but the picture, by Steve Race, is lovely:
And there’s this, originally “tweeted (I hate that word!) by the estimable Ed Yong as “two handfuls of burrowing owls”.
Since many of us like owls, I’ll throw in another photo; I’m not sure who took it, but it and the one above appear on Nicholas Heitzman’s “owl” page. This snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a ghostly presence in a dark wood: