Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Biology

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WikiProject iconWikiProject Biology is part of the WikiProject Biology, an effort to build a comprehensive and detailed guide to biology on Wikipedia. Leave messages on the WikiProject talk page.
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Wikimedia Discord has a Biology Channel![edit]

It has recently come to my attention that not only is there a highly active Wikimedia Discord Server, it also has a #wpbiology channel! See Wikipedia:Discord for more details.

I hope to feature a link to this on the main page after the redesign is complete, but for the time being I wanted to advertise it here. I would love for more people to join, and I hope it will prove a major resource to us going forward as we improve WP:BIOL and it's subprojects. I cannot emphasize how refreshing it can be to talk in real time (or even in voice channels!) rather than in talk pages.

@Evolution and evolvability and Alexmar983: This also should serve us nicely for the user group discussions--they have a #meta channel as well.

Chronic wasting disease: clarification needed[edit]

Clarification needed (in-line template includes reason) from article Chronic wasting disease.

However, it is noted that as of 2013, although CWD prions were transmissible within the cervidae family, CWD was not considered transmissible to humans or to cattle.[1]


Recent research on Rocky Mountain elk found that with CWD-infected cows,[clarification needed] many subclinical, a high rate (80%) of maternal-to-offspring transmission of CWD prions occurred

Regards, Thinker78 (talk) 03:07, 29 December 2023 (UTC) [reply]


  1. ^ Patrice N Klein, CWD Program Manager USDA/APHIS (5–6 February 2013). Chronic Wasting Disease - Review of Disease Transmission and Control (PDF). WHHCC Meeting. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 September 2014.

How to handle human vs. Non-human?[edit]

I've been having some confusion with how to handle human and non-human components in anatomy/biology (and related) articles. Is there a rule of thumb for this?

I was making a plan to resolve visual system and visual perception and noticed ambiguity on whether information was human-specific or vertebrate-specific.

Looking through some similar articles:

  • Olfactory system is written generally, mostly human, but sense of smell is almost entirely general, not focusing on humans whatsoever, which is the opposite for visual system (some non-human content) and visual perception (entirely human).
  • Color vision is entirely general, mentioning humans specifically, when applicable.
  • Auditory system makes no mention of non-humans, but auditory perception (hearing) does.
  • Digestive system redirects to human digestive system, but then I don't know where to go for more general non-human digestive systems. It seems qualifying articles with human in the lead, but not in the title, and still including other animals as a subsection is an okay solution?
  • I see a perhaps useful example in trachea, but then would the vertebrate section just say "the vertebrate visual system generalizes well from the human case, with the following differences"? I have not seen an example of leads ever including human in the qualifiers, "The human trachea (pl.: tracheae or tracheas)...". I think I would prefer this, but I guess that has been discussed before somewhere.
  • Liver mentions only vertebrate in the lead instead of human, but then ignores this distinction until an #other animals section.

Ideas? Curran919 (talk) 13:29, 31 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]

That's been handled lots of ways and Wikipedia is inconsistent. Of the descriptions above I like "entirely general, mentioning humans specifically, when applicable" and mentioning other species when applicable. There are many topics where so much work has been done on humans that article titles like Human sense of smell might be helpful, and there should be links to that from Sense of smell, but for an article about an aspect of biology to only or mostly talk about humans and ignore the rest of the tree of life is speciesist. SchreiberBike | ⌨  15:58, 31 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]
This has come up repeatedly (see e.g. here), and the response from WikiProject Medicine editors is that somebody needs to write the content relevant to non-humans. Once sufficient content exists (in theory) an argument could be made to split the human content into a separate article.
In practice, previously separate articles on humans do get merged back into what were small articles that weren't focused on humans (e.g. human pelvis->pelvis), or a term that is primarily used in non-human contexts gets hijacked into a redirect to a human context (copulation->sexual intercourse, followed by a fork of copulation (zoology)). Recent successful splits are injury/injury in humans and kidney/kidney (vertebrates)/mammalian kidney.
My advice is to write the non-human content at what appears to be the appropriate title. If that gets reverted by an editor who wants the articles to stay focused on humans, bring it up here or at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Tree of Life.
If a general title redirects to a human specific title (as with digestive system->human digestive system), you might consider making the general title a disambiguation page and creating a non-human article at a new title, or starting (or restoring) an article at the general title and see what happens. (For digestive system in particular digestion and gastrointestinal tract are apparently supposed to cover non-humans). Plantdrew (talk) 21:23, 31 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for all the context. The template deletion thread was interesting, especially when poised as a wp:med vs. wp:biology conflict of interests! I agree is most cases it does not make sense to split into general and human articles, even once the non-human content is expanded. It also seems clear that a human centered article will often take priority over a name space (e.g. pelvis and pelvis (tetrapods) seems reader-friendlier than human pelvis and pelvis). However, I'm interested particularly in how best to get them to share the article and what language should be used in the article to clarify this organization. If the article defaults to human most of the time, should we isolate non-human content to the non-human section? Should the lead introduce the article as about the human aspect, even though the non-human part is represented in a section? Curran919 (talk) 22:54, 31 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]
This. This is something that I agree on.
Its not just digestive system though. There's a few more articles that ONLY have human articles but no general article.
Voice and Back redirect to their human articles respectively, even when talking about them in other animals due to a lack of general articles for them. I still wish for a general Voice and Back article because there should be when you're referring to those topics in non-humans. LoverOfAllAnimalsActivist (talk) 07:08, 7 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
@LoverOfAllAnimalsActivist I think a concept like voice is inherently human-centric. A redirect to human voice, I think is a good design. There should probably be a headnote that directs to the non-human equivalent, but this doesn't seem to exist. Vocalization is a disambiguation page that references animal communication and subgroup vocalization (e.g. bird vocalization), so I think a generic non-human vocalization article would need to be synthesized before being worked into the mix. Back as well is such an inexact term that it leads to an inexact article (and wow, look at all those citations!). This would be ripe for a non-human animals section, but honestly, what information would you add here? If you have ideas, put it in a sandbox for review and we can talk about how to incorporate it, but I can't imagine what that would look like. Also, think about the type of user who is going to look up back on wikipedia instead of spine or something else more specific, and think of what kind of information would be useful to them. For example, I think redirecting back to a disambiguation page would probably be a mistake. Curran919 (talk) 10:03, 7 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
This and musculoskeletal system are the only systems that do not have general animal articles despite almost all animals having them in my knowledge. It BAFFLES me that digestive system has no general article whereas pretty much every other system aside from musculoskeletal have general articles. With this in mind, somehow there's a few animal info in human digestive system. So why don't we split that part into "Digestive System" that talks about animal digestive systems then? Other animals have them too (if gastropods have their own digestive system page, why can't a general digestive system article be made? Of all the major systems this is the odd one out and it baffles me.) LoverOfAllAnimalsActivist (talk) 11:28, 9 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
On digestion, I suggest you write an article that spans digestion of wood and cellulose by bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, mentioning their symbioses with herbivorous animals such as cattle, as well as digestion of oil and plastic by bacteria, digestion of insects by insectivorous plants, and for good measure digestion of meat by carnivores. This will be impossible to merge into an all-human article (and it won't be limited to animals, naturally). You will have a short subsection on digestion in omnivores, with a "further" link to Digestion in humans. Then we get the humans-only article renamed to that, and, Voila!, we'll have a proper representation of digestion for WikiProject Biology. Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:42, 13 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Epicanthic Folds in other animals?[edit]

I looked on various places and there's literally only Quora that says these:

"Most animals have no whites of their eyes showing, as humans do, and so it is difficult to see the epicanthic folds. They seem to be in young animals like puppies and kittens."

"They have, but you did not know about them. Also, some have even evolved an extra transparent eye lid for even more protection and so forth."

But, there's no reliable info on this in animals, so I tried looking clearly into puppy and kitten eyes especially those of Asian breeds, and I think they have them? I'm not really sure, but I'm inclined to think they do?

If anyone is able to find more info please tell me. I desperately need to know. LoverOfAllAnimalsActivist (talk) 07:55, 7 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Most mammals have the sclera of the eye showing, so I'm not sure how accurate any of that is (and the sclera isn't always white). In humans, epicanthic folds don't hide the sclera completely either. Either way, I believe the term "epicanthic fold" is exclusively used for the condition in humans, so there simply doesn't exist any such info on animals. FunkMonk (talk) 09:15, 7 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]

There is a requested move discussion at Talk:Hypoxia (environmental)#Requested move 10 February 2024 that may be of interest to members of this WikiProject. ❯❯❯ Raydann(Talk) 02:17, 22 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]