is it a shrimp? is it a prawn? no – it’s Super Crayfish! (revisited)

I wrote this post a couple of years ago, but I think it’s worth revisiting it. Why? Because these crayfish are in the news again – apparently they’ve “taken over” a Belgian cemetery (or, more correctly, the waterways in that cemetery). Local scientists believe that someone must have had the crustaceans in a home aquarium […]

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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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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 Yet they appear to have been replaced by […]

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measles infection & immune amnesia

Measles infection has a couple of longer-term sequelae. One, SSPE, is thankfully rare (although for infants with measles the odds of subsequently developing SSPE are considerably higher than for other age groups). The other, “immune amnesia”, is also strongly associated with having had measles, though this doesn’t stop those opposed to vaccination claiming otherwise. In […]

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