The origin of this fine blog is seated in the furiously clacking fingers of Jake Buehler and his faithful and overworked HP laptop. Jake is a recent graduate of the University of Oregon, and of the Robert D. Clark Honors College. With his B.S. and training in biology (specifically evolutionary biology and ecology), his life is currently in awkward transition as he dreamily anticipates the entering of grad school so he can become a full-fledged scientist.
In the summer of 2011, before the ink on his diploma had even congealed in the wet Eugene air, it occurred to him that there was a vast reservoir of biological knowledge that he had sopped up during his 22 obsessive, information-hoarding years. Much of this information, as he was painfully aware, was hard to access from outside a biologist’s perspective. It was recalling the ferocity and predatory nature of the commonly underestimated ladybug as one serenely walked across the outside of a window at a Qdoba burrito joint that birthed Shit You Didn’t Know You About Biology. Jake realized that perhaps he could share the fuller context of the biological world around us all that he took for granted every day. The goal then became an educational celebration of interesting and underappreciated understanding about life, and to contribute to enhancing the resolution we hold on our world one irreverent blog post at a time.
But it couldn’t be stale. Dry. Clinical. There couldn’t be a wall of vocabularic prerequisites that pumped readers full of reading-induced Ambien half a paragraph in. It had to be fun, memorable, integrative, relatable, and accessible.
As of August 2013, Jake is a graduate student at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in the Marko lab, where he plans to forge ahead towards his PhD and work towards contributing to our understanding of speciation in marine environments and marine phylogeography (particularly in the Pacific basin).
(Note: the banner at the top of this blog features Jake Buehler’s personal photography from his many outdoor adventures living in the Western U.S. More examples of his photography can be found here, at his landscape photography blog, Nearctica)
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Made my way over from Why Evolution is True. Looking forward to exploring your site. Cheers, Mary
Thanks! Glad you are here.
Jake, could you get in touch please? I’d like to talk to you about publishing some of your writing on Slate. Thanks!
Yes, I will email you presently! I apologize for the delay, I was out of town for a few days.
Thanks to Jerry Coyne for helping me find this great experience
Yes, this is a great blog! BUT… as a high school ecology and environmental sci. teacher, I can’t send my kids here simply because of the “shits” and “fucks.” I personally love these two words, but I can’t use them at work, and I can’t use an awesome website sprinkled with them, either. So yeah, it is “accessible” – easy, interesting, and even fun to read! – but not accessible in the sense that it is NSFSchool. Seriously… you should have seen how my kids reacted when I said something was a “pain in the ass.”
Guess I could print your stuff out and use a Sharpie to “bleep” the occasional F-bomb… and hope no parents decide to make an issue of it. Anyway… keep up the good work….
Thank you! I also appreciate your feedback. Yes, I’ve often wondered if my choice to go with the tongue-in-cheek, irreverent, crass approach was a good one.
I’m thinking of making an entirely SFW and safe for school version…identical, but with an editing of the language. Would you be interested in something along the lines of a “Stuff You Didn’t Know About Biology”?
I don’t think the tone is a problem at all… and in most situations cussing and innuendo are fine (even to be desired!) but as I said, school is a whole different game.
An identical SFW / SFS version would be great! (But… uh,.,, a pain in the ass for YOU… auuugh… I can’t stop saying “ass!”) Anyhow… I’d say YES! Keep it snarky and irreverent…. only, edit the few words that would get me fired. Then I’d send all my students here!
And I would say you’ve succeeded. I’ve just spent the last 3 hours of my work day reading through your articles. I’m absolutely loving it.
Thank you! I’m happy that you are enjoying reading, I just hope my articles aren’t adversely impacting your work week too much, haha.
Great blog, really! I love the kind of info you blog about and I love your style. Please continue!
Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Jake, this is a fabulous treasure trove of interesting information. You are to be commended for putting this into an understandable form and an accessible medium. I am sharing it with my grandson, who is totally ape-shit over biology. (At the age of 5, he could describe the life cycle of the little shrimps that live by the fissures in the ocean floor and feed off nitrogen, sulphur, etc). The problem is that I had to omit, or at least modify, all the inappropriate and unnecessary words (fuck, shit, etc.). I think your articles would be better without them. Keep writing – you have a flair for expression.
Thank you for your feedback. Yes, I have actually debated whether or not I should get rid of the language, and the irreverent approach entirely. However, I’m thinking a good compromise is to simply make a separate blog, identical in all respects, save for an editing of the language…making it kid-friendly. Would something like a “Stuff You Didn’t Know About Biology” be something you’d be interested in?
My goal is to make this information accessible to as many people as possible, and it does no good if my format impedes that goal.
Please don’t lose the irreverence or the humor! It’s what makes it so much fun to read. I personally love the colorful language but at the same time I don’t feel losing that would reduce the enjoyment and would make it more accessible to young readers who need to be drawn into what’s fun and amazing about biology. I’m so glad Jerry Coyne pointed us here. You have a talent for making biology fun and accessible, and we need that! Best of luck with the site. More importantly, how’s the next article coming? 🙂
Oh yes, I wouldn’t lose the approach. If anything, a separate, SFW blog would simply censor any profanity, and perhaps any of the more risque references. It would be identical in all other respects.
Thank you! I’m planning on writing a new article in the next couple of weeks. As you’ve noticed, there hasn’t been an update in a number of months. I’ve been busy applying to graduate school, and I’m currently in the middle of interview season, so I haven’t had as much time to tend to this website. However, I will definitely be adding a new article in relatively near future. After this point, I intend to update more regularly.
Hi Jake! I’m just getting into the field of evolutionary biology, and I just wanted to let you know I read and often re-read this blog practically every day. I’m a big fan and I’ve gotten all of my paleontology-oriented friends into this blog. We all just want to say what you’re doing is amazing. The writing is superb, the facts are interesting and new, and the humor is top-notch. Keep up the fantastic work!
Thank you! I’m happy that you are enjoying it and sharing it with others. There will be more posts in the near future!
This has to be one of the most informative (and funny) blogs on biology that I have come across. Keep up the great work!
Thank you! I plan on it.
I’ve nominated you for a Liebster award. Feel free to just thank me and get on with your life, or even ignore me if you want. If, however, you want to participate in this, head over to my blog and read more about it. http://brianbreczinski.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/leapin-liebsters/
ive got some mind blowing stuff you might like to help me out with
im on track with i think a relation of it carnage beond your imagination tracks three toe plus thumb on back pad front feet retrack claws back and front
view some images on youtube
interested contact me
reg roger mazzocato
jake have a look on youtube search roger mazz
theres a photo of my boot with a paw print unknown?
have you seen anything like it,jan 2011 i saw an animal runing away from one of my baits (road kill roo) it took me 2 years to work out what i had seen it looked like a thylacoleo, all baits get eaten over night
the paw print in question was taken mach 2013 at that time the amount of stripped out animals i saw was incredible some of the roo carcases in my photo slide are from that time
looked like a hunting party got to them hunting party of what ?
so do you know what animal that track came from
I’ve never spent so much time on my biology lessons than I spent here. Loved your blog and hope to stay here for long. Kudos.
Fantastic blogs for lovers of science, zoology and evolution! Great jokes too! Your work does truly contribute to make “the greatest show on earth” accessible to the masses! Keep the shirts and fucks, nature is worth getting excited about!
This is an excellent read, thank you very much Mr Buehler and well done.
I really really love your writing. It’s so enjoyable to read. It reminds me of a style in cracked.com.
Perhaps you could give it a try to submit a few articles there? Because then you wouldn’t have to worry about the language, and you would be engaging much more readers.
Thanks! I’ve considered it, but I’ve heard that they don’t pay well for pieces. Then again, I don’t make money off of this thing, so…
So glad to have found your blog, you have a real flair for writing. I love how you present awesome animal information that is exciting and educational using an elegant turn of phrase; it’s near Wodehousian in its smoothness. 😀
Hey, just left a comment on your bioluminescence article – shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, would love to chat 🙂