first steps: jerry desilva on the evolution of bipedalism

This morning I got up (at the rather early and unaccustomed hour of 3.30am) to listen to a webinar by paleoanthropologist Dr Jeremy DeSilva¹. Titled “First Steps”, his presentation was about the origins of bipedalism in the human lineage. It was a fascinating session & I thought I’d turn my notes into this post, to […]

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a fishy story: midas cichlids in nicaraguan lakes

https://pixabay.com/photos/astronotus-fish-cichlid-aquarium-3528098/

Midas cichlids (Amphilophus spp.) are a popular aquarium fish, but in the wild they’re found in South America, ranging from Nicaragua to Costa Rica. The 2018 Schol Bio paper included a really interesting question about a Nicaraguan ‘species complex‘ of these fish, based on a paper in Nature Communications. and a monograph in Cuadernos de […]

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neandertals’ genetic legacy extends into africa

For the last few years it’s been pretty much received wisdom that African populations shared only a tiny proportion of their genes, if any, with Neanderthals. In contrast, other non-African sapiens populations had a small but significant admixture of Neanderthal genes. The underlying reason for this, it’s been assumed, is that Homo sapiens and neandertalensis only bred with […]

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zombie ants, updated

Image source: David P. Hughes, Maj-Britt Pontoppidan – http://www.plosone.org/article/showImageLarge.action?uri=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0004835.g001 CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17917778   Back in 2010 I wrote about the strange tale of the zombie ants, which  do the bidding of their fungal overlords. (They’re not an isolated example; a range of parasites change their hosts’ behaviour. See here and here for example – though as you’ll find, […]

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what happened to the neanderthals?

One of the questions students often ask, when we’re discussing human evolution, is “what happened to the Neanderthals?” After all, this was a large-brained species closely related to our own, with some fairly complex tool technologies and the ability to survive (and thrive) in harsh environmental conditions. Yet they appear to have been replaced by […]

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