Mike writes, “I know that I’m supposed to provide some sort of explanation, but I feel like everyone can probably tell that this is DNA. Every once in awhile someone will ask what’s on my arm, in which case I respond that it’s a futuristic staircase. Then they stare quizzically and I laugh.”
Podarcis sicula (Italian wall lizard) is native to Italy, and the nearby Mediterranean coast. It thrives in cities, and has probably been a human urban commensal for 2000 years. They and their congeners (P. muralis) have been introduced into many places in Europe, including France, southern England, and Germany. they may be the most widely introduced temperate reptile species. There are at least four extant populations of Podarcis sicula and muralis introduced to North America: Long Island (NY), Topeka (KS), Cincinnati (OH), and Vancouver Island, British Columbia. there was a population in Philadelphia but they are apparently now extinct, and I recently heard of what sounds like a separate introduction in central NJ. All releases are associated with the pet trade and are decades old. Podarcis is here to stay, lacertid lizards finally made it over the pond.
I’m interested in them because I’m interested in invasive species and what they can tell us about natural invasions. I’ve looked at the parasite loads of all four extant pops, and they are quite depauperate compared to what would be expected. I’ve done really detailed work on the demography and the food habits of the LI pop, and next year I’m going to Italy to document the same things in the native habitat. I’m
expecting to see evolutionary changes as they adapt to the new environments.
I mostly study turtles; this is my first real foray into lizard work. However, I couldn’t see how my favorite turtles would transfer into a nice tattoo, not quite colorful enough.
Rachel writes, “I recently got this tattoo as a graduation present to myself. I just graduated from Florida Tech with my BS in marine biology. I’ll be moving to New Zealand in July to study giant squid with my childhood hero, Dr. Steve O’Shea.”
Carl: That’s like a physicist saying she’s going to work with Einstein. Have fun. [O’Shea on Wikipedia]
I am a soil scientist and entomologist. My favorite insects/arthropods are praying mantises, psuedoscorpions and spiders. I am also a big time feminist. I find praying mantises to be so fascinating, and while they are extremely adept killing machines, they are also one of the oldest insects around! This tattoo is a metaphor for my independance and tribute to my mantis friends.From Wikipedia: Sexual cannibalism is common among mantids in captivity, and under some circumstances may also be observed in the field. The female may start feeding by biting off the male’s head (as with any prey), and if mating had begun, the male’s movements may become even more vigorous in its delivery of sperm. Early researchers thought that because copulatory movement is controlled by ganglion in the abdomen, not the head, removal of the male’s head was a reproductive strategy by females to enhance fertilisation while obtaining sustenance. Later, this bizarre behaviour appeared to be an artifact of intrusive laboratory observation. Whether the behaviour in the field is natural, or also the result of distractions caused by the human observer, remains controversial. Mantises are highly visual creatures, and notice any disturbance occurring in the laboratory or field such as bright lights or moving scientists. Research by Liske and Davis (1987) and others found (e.g. using video recorders in vacant rooms) that Chinese mantises that had been fed ad libitum (so were not starving) actually displayed elaborate courtship behavior when left undisturbed. The male engages the female in courtship dance, to change her interest from feeding to mating. Courtship display has also been observed in other species, but it does not hold for all mantises.So in fact, the common assumption that all females cannabilize their mates either during/after copulation is debated because most observations of this were in a lab, where the mantis was likely highly aware of her captors. I have a magnet on my fridge with a woman in a wedding dress that says…”Marriage? No…I don’t mate well in captivity!”
Carl: For more on mantises and their hungry love, see my article in the New York Times.
“I got this tattoo done on Saturday. It’s the same set of footprints I use in the avatar for my blog (The Ethical Palaeontologist), but in fact they’re the narrow-gauge sauropod dinosaur trackways from the Ardley quarry in Oxfordshire. There’s no deeper meaning other than the fact that I’ve spent most of my academic career working on sauropod dinosaurs. But there are plans for more, if I could just get hold of a decent black and white illustration of a sauropod dorsal vertebra in dorsal view…”
Carl: Here’s a paper
Julia co-wrote on what the trackways reveal about dinosaurs. [Update: Whoops, wrong Julia. Thanks for the correction, Julia…]
“I studied geology for three years before I reached my major’s capstone course in paleontology. Therein, I became much more familiar with the subject that has since become my greatest scientific passion: evolution. Darwin’s breathtaking brilliance left me awe struck and I have since devoted much of my free time to studying natural selection, specifically, the origins of Darwin’s ideas. One of the basic foundations for Darwin’s discovery was the adaptation of different types of finches to various islands in the Galapagos. To commemorate my devotion, as well as to honor his genius, I got this tattoo of his first published drawing of said finches.”
Carl: If you haven’t read The Beak of the Finch, do so now.
Ben, a philosopher of science grad student, writes:
“Darwin sketched the great tree of life and as a philosopher of science and I endeavor to help to complete his project. ‘Metaphysics must flourish, he who understands baboon would do more for metaphysics than Locke’- I believe that by analyzing the universe underneath the lens of evolution we can come to complete Darwin’s project. Darwin, more so than any other great thinker, has provided humanity with an explanation for its existence.”
Orla writes, “I’m a Zoology undergrad in Dublin, Ireland. I got this tattoo of an orangutan to ensure that, even if they die out in the wild, which seems to be quite likely, they’ll still be remembered. The noblest of the apes sits on my lap forever.”
“My boyfriend and I wanted tattoos that looked good on their own but had significance when they were joined. It took a long time to find the right design; my doodles went nowhere. Then, in the course of research for the American Museum of Natural History where I’m a staff writer, I saw a picture of a cell during meiosis, and bingo! (visualize a membrane surrounding both sets of chromosomes on our forearms.) We love the way it looks, as well as the way it symbolizes both pulling apart and coming together. And it ended up being the catalyst for a book project about tattoos with a shared meaning ( http://www.tattoosfortwo.com/).”
Carl: If you forgot your high school biology, here’s an elegant little refresher on meiosis.
Therese writes, “I teach molecular and cell biology at a University in Atlanta. Many of my students have commented on the tatoo, I think they think it makes me ‘cool.’ Haha!”