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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cave bears and brown bears and and admixture, oh my!

Last week the story of a hybrid hominin was in the news: the discovery that remains found in Denisova Cave were those of a 13-year-old girl whose parents were a female Neandertal and a Denisovan male. This was exciting stuff: we already know, from genomic analysis, that interspecies matings involving Neanderthals, Denisovans, and H.sapiens happened […]

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slick propaganda has no place in science classroom

Except, perhaps, if it’s used to develop critical thinking skills. But I don’t think that’s what happened on the occasion reported under the headline Creationism taught in science class at Villa Education Trust school: [A student who’d studied at] Mt Hobson Middle School said Darwinism was taught as an unproven theory and students were shown […]

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poor little pangolins – driven headlong to extinction by human greed & stupidity

Pangolins are strange little creatures, with their diet of ants and termites, and the entire outer surface of their bodies covered with armour-like scales (face, belly & the inner surfaces of the limbs are either hairy or naked). When in danger, pangolins are able to roll up in a ball, presenting only that armoured surface […]

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