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 Yet they appear to have been replaced by […]

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ardipithecus and bipedal walking

Image source: By T. Michael Keesey – Zanclean skullUploaded by FunkMonk, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8541387 The hominid known as “Ardi” (a specimen of Ardipithecus ramidus) was discovered in 1994, at a site near Ethiopia’s Awash River. Once excavated, it turned out that this was – for its age – a remarkably complete specimen: 125 fossilised bones, comprising […]

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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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