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Michael Habib
Works at University of Southern California
Attended Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Lives in Los Angeles
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Michael Habib

Science News (Pop Sci)  - 
 
+Brian Switek covers the new metoposaur bone bed discovery in modern day Portugal. These animals were large amphibious predators with a cool jaw that could open their jaws via elevation in addition to the typical depression approach (i.e. the jaw could open upwards). The time period involved is also very cool: the late Triassic (about 230 million years ago), when the primary land masses were connected as the supercontinent Pangaea.
Finding fossils takes a combination of skill on luck. You have to be looking in the right place and have some idea of how to distinguish those precious pieces of prehistoric life from all the rock ...
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Michael Habib

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A Blue View: The star of this week's podcast is the nudibranch! http://ow.ly/KuFYY

Epitomizing the expression “You are what you eat,” these toxic sea slugs derive their vibrant hues from their prey, which ranges from algae and corals to anemones and even other nudibranchs!

Image via Wikipedia Commons.
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"Scientists have revealed how carnivorous pitcher leaves are formed in Sarracenia purpurea, a carnivorous plant. They showed that a tissue-specific regulation of oriented cell division is the key factor for pitcher development. A computational modeling of leaf morphogenesis also supports these results".
Scientists have revealed how carnivorous pitcher leaves are formed in Sarracenia purpurea, a carnivorous plant. They showed that a tissue-specific regulation of oriented cell division is the key factor for pitcher development. A computational modeling of leaf morphogenesis also supports these results.
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What I constantly forget is that most people don't consider is that exotic species didn't actually start in this form. Imagine how much further along we'd be if plants would leave just as few fossils as animals, instead of so far fewer. 
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Because beetles are sexy (at least to other beetles)...
 
Where do babies come from? "Well," says the burying beetle, "when there's a nice, big rotting carcass..." Dead animals draw beetles, for whom control of this generous heap of decaying matter means a better chance of getting down. But it's not easy being a dominant male beetle, as a team at the University of Exeter has discovered.

"You might think that the males who have the most sex have nothing to worry about," writes +Jason Goldman. "After all, they're the kings of their castles (and here 'castle' means rotting, hairless, anal secretion-covered rodent carcass). But sexual supremacy introduces a kind of social stress that the more laid-back males don't have to contend with."
A burying beetle's love life is quite charming: two beetles meet, fall in love, bury a rotting animal together and raise their little beetle family on the flesh of the carcass. At least, that's how it's supposed to work. In reality, the carcass is the site of big beetle sex party.
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A wonderful little anecdote that Neil Gaiman shared about Terry Pratchett just under a week ago.
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+G. Michael Williams No worries at all. He was one of the most successful and brilliant satirists in recent history. I highly recommend checking out some of his work. Cheers!
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Great comments from +Liz Martin about the implausibility of pterosaurs picking up large prey with their feet. Sorry folks, pterosaurs didn't have talons.
 
Could pterosaurs really pick up people if they were around today? Short answer: not without a lot of evolutionary changes...
I'm sure by now everyone has seen the recent Jurassic World trailer and palaeontologists and dinosaur fans alike have been salivating over it. The paleontological community is mostly in uproar over the scientific inaccuracies...
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This meme! IT WILL NEVER DIE.
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Michael Habib

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Because nudibranchs are awesome.
 
Have you heard of Glaucus atlanticus (blue sea slug) and its tinier relative Glaucus marginatus?

The family Glaucidae has just two species: Glaucus atlanticus and Glaucus marginatus. Glaucus atlanticus can be up to 40mm in size and have single rows of up to 84 cerata (outgrowths from the sides of the body).

The main differences between the two are:
- Glaucus marginatus has multiple rows of cerata and up to 137 cerata in total.
- The tail (metapodium) of Glaucus atlanticus is much longer than that of Glaucus marginatus.
- Glaucus atlanticus is the larger of the two species - Glaucus marginatus only reaches 17mm in length.

more info: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/species-of-the-day/collections/our-collections/glaucus-atlanticus/
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+Michael Habib funny how that works... now you're buying Aiptasia for the slugs :-) 
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How to make water into a tongue

This is one of the coolest bits of functional morphology work I've seen in a while. +Ed Yong  summarizes the new paper below. The new paper is entitled "A fish that uses its hydrodynamic tongue to feed on land" and it looks at mudskippers, which are among the coolest creatures ever, so that's already a good start.

What's really cool is how mudskippers feed on land. Fish typically do not have a tongue that they can protrude from the mouth or use to help them swallow (Basal  fish do not have a true tongue at all. Sharks, for example, have a pad of thickened tissue at the floor of their mouth, but no real tongue. Teleost fish have a tongue, but it's a chewing structure, not something they can stick out of their mouth or use for swallowing). Instead, fish typically use suction to swallow, and many use suction to grab prey in the first place. 

That's a potential problem for mudskippers, which scoot around on land to find much of their food. So, how does a fish with a suction-type mouth manage to eat on land? The answer turns out to be that mudskippers take a reservoir of water with them in their mouths, and shoot it out to act as a virtual tongue. That's right, mudskippers grab and swallow prey on land using what is basically a prosthetic tongue made of water.

In any case, read the full Phenomena article by Ed Yong to get the full scoop on the study, and what it says about the evolution of the vertebrate tongue, which is one of my favorite topics in evolutionary morphology (because it's complicated).

The original article is here: spb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/282/1805/20150057

The authors have shared data here: http://datadryad.org/resource/doi:10.5061/dryad.0fg55

And this is the abstract:
To capture and swallow food on land, a sticky tongue supported by the hyoid and gill arch skeleton has evolved in land vertebrates from aquatic ancestors that used mouth-cavity-expanding actions of the hyoid to suck food into the mouth. However, the evolutionary pathway bridging this drastic shift in feeding mechanism and associated hyoid motions remains unknown. Modern fish that feed on land may help to unravel the physical constraints and biomechanical solutions that led to terrestrialization of fish-feeding systems. Here, we show that the mudskipper emerges onto land with its mouth cavity filled with water, which it uses as a protruding and retracting ‘hydrodynamic tongue’ during the initial capture and subsequent intra-oral transport of food. Our analyses link this hydrodynamic action of the intra-oral water to a sequence of compressive and expansive cranial motions that diverge from the general pattern known for suction feeding in fishes. However, the hyoid motion pattern showed a remarkable resemblance to newts during tongue prehension. Consequently, although alternative scenarios cannot be excluded, hydrodynamic tongue usage may be a transitional step onto which the evolution of adhesive mucosa and intrinsic lingual muscles can be added to gain further independence from water for terrestrial foraging. 
In the distant past, between 350 and 400 million years ago, a group of our fishy ancestors started crawling up on land. The fins that propelled them through the water gradually evolved into sturdy,...
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Michael Habib

Orchidaceae, general  - 
 
Gongora tricolor

I have shared some photos of this plant previously. These are not good shots, artistically, but I took them to give an idea of the sheer volume of blooming that a large Gongora is capable of. There were 42 flowers open at once when I took these photos (I could not get all of them in frame at once). Another 35 buds were nearing maturity (which will begin to open as the previous wave of flowers drop). These plants produce pendulous spikes that bloom in a "serial fashion": two to three spikes will bloom for about a week, then drop their flowers as another set of spikes goes to full bloom.

This particular plant started blooming this year on January 6th. It has produced about 95 open flowers so far in total. It could surpass 200 by the end of the season. 

#Gongora  
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Aplause for you!! very well grown Góngora!!
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Fantastic artwork and a wonderful tribute for those that are fans of the Discworld series and will miss Sir Terry Pratchett's writing.
 
As you probably all know by now, Sir Terry Pratchett passed away from this world earlier this week, so to pay homage to the creator of the Discworld series, man
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Nothing to add here other than the world has lost a phenomenal author and brilliant mind. Goodbye Terry Pratchett.
 
RIP Terry Pratchett. :(
The author died at home surrounded by his family with his cat sleeping on his bed.
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Michael Habib

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Rosetta’s Comet Really “Blows Up” in Latest Images

First off, no, comet 67p/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is not about to explode or disintegrate. But as it steadily gets nearer to the Sun the comet’s jets are getting more and more active, and they’re putting on quite a show for the orbiting Rosetta spacecraft!

http://www.universetoday.com/118901/rosettas-comet-really-blows-up-in-latest-images/
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Work
Occupation
Assistant Professor, Cell and Neurobiology
Skills
Anatomy, Biomechanics, Paleontology
Employment
  • University of Southern California
    Assistant Professor, Cell and Neurobiology, 2012 - present
    I teach Clinical Human Anatomy (Cadaveric). I research biomechanics, paleontology, robotics and comparative anatomy. Growing interest in astrobiology.
  • Chatham University
    Assistant Professor of Biology, 2009 - 2012
    I taught Clinical Human Anatomy (Cadaveric), Evolution, and Biostatistics. I had a fruitful research program in biomechanics, paleontology, and comparative anatomy.
  • National Aquarium
    Animal Husbandry: Rainforest, 2001 - 2001
    I provided animal care at the National Aquarium for reptiles, birds, and invertebrates. (https://plus.google.com/+nationalaquarium/posts)
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Los Angeles
Previously
Baltimore - Ellicott City - Charlottesville - Pittsburgh
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Story
Tagline
Paleontologist. Gets to play with flying reptiles, dinosaurs, and swarms for a living. Enjoys tea and Kung Fu off the job.
Introduction
I spend my time teaching human gross anatomy and studying strange creatures from the deep past of Earth's history. I am particularly fond of publishing works on giant flying reptiles. When not contemplating the fossil record I can be found studying Kung Fu and growing orchids.

(Profile photo by Gus Ruelas)

My Curriculum Vitae


Some of my recent papers:

Han G, Chiappe LM, Ji S-A, Habib M, Turner AH, Chinsamy A, Liu X, and Han L. 2014. A New Raptorial Dinosaur with Exceptionally Long Feathering provides Insights into Dromaeosaurid Flight Performance. Nature Communications. 5 (4382)


Chiappe LM, Zhao B, O’Connor JK, Chunling G, Wang X, Habib M, Marugan-Lobon J, Meng Q, Cheng X. 2014. A new specimen of the Early Cretaceous bird Hongshanornis longicresta: insights into the aerodynamics and diet of a basal ornithuromorph. PeerJ 2:e234 


Hone DWE, Habib MB, Lamanna MC. 2013. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of Solnhofen (Upper Jurassic, Germany) pterosaur specimens at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Annals of Carnegie Musuem 82(2): 149-175.


Habib M. 2013. Constraining the Air Giants: Limits on size in flying animals as an example of constraint-based biomechanical theories of form. Biological Theory: Special Volume doi: 10.1007/s13752-013-0118-y






Habib M. 2010. The structural mechanics and evolution of aquaflying birds. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 99(4): 687-698


Habib M.  2008. Comparative evidence for quadrupedal launch in pterosaurs. Pp 161-168 in Buffetaut E, and DWE Hone, eds.  Wellnhofer Pterosaur Meeting: Zitteliana B28

Bragging rights
I was selected as one of the "Brilliant 10" in Popular Science Magazine for 2014. My research was featured as one of the top 100 stories of 2009 by Discover Magazine.
Education
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
    Anatomy (Ph.D.), 2004 - 2011
  • University of Virginia
    Biology (M.S.), 2001 - 2004
  • University of Virginia
    Biology (B.A.), 1998 - 2001
Basic Information
Gender
Male