Monthly Archives: July 2010

Lazy post: a Life Scientists best-of

When stuck for ideas or pressed for time, a blogger can always fall back on a round-up of activity from elsewhere on the web. Yes, it’s time for a “best of the past 14 days” from the FriendFeed Life Scientists group.

Just a slight twist to make it more exciting (?) – we’ll automate the process using the API and a little Ruby.
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How many monotypic genera?

During all the recent discussion around Neandertals and modern humans, it’s often pointed out that Homo sapiens is the sole extant representative of the genus Homo. I began to wonder “how unusual is this?” in a FriendFeed comment thread. What resources exist that could help us to answer this question?

Genera that contain only one species are termed monotypic. Wikipedia even has a category page for this topic but their lists are limited, since Wikipedia is not a comprehensive taxonomy resource.

Taxonomy is not my specialty but once in a while, I enjoy challenging myself with unfamiliar resources and data types. I figured initially that we could get some way towards an answer using BioSQL and the NCBI taxonomy database. As it turned out I was completely wrong, but it was an interesting educational exercise. I turned instead to a “real” taxonomy resource, the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, or ITIS.
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