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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appeal to antiquity? appeal to nature? bingo!

I was idly skimming the Herald's website when I came across an article with the headline "Is plant medicine really that effective?" Since the article appears to be in the nature of an advertorial, the answer is, it depends on who you ask. Unlike man-made chemical drugs that have been developed as novel medicines from the 19th […]

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

Polyploidy – the duplication of chromosome sets – is relatively common in plants, and can result in the development of new species. (Many modern food crops are polyploids.) It’s much less common in animals, although found in some frogs & salamanders (amphibians) & leeches (annelids). So it was with a mix of excitement, surprise, & […]

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dogs, diets, & the impact of evolution

Yvonne d'Entremont (aka SciBabe) recently posted an article on 'alternative' foods and health products for pets, in her usual no-holds-barred style. It's always good to see pseudoscience called out for what it is, and in the case of pet-focused quackery it's a message that needs multiple repeats. Why? Because pets are dependent on us, & […]

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attitudes and antibiotics

A recent FB post from Stuff discussed the rising concerns around the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. (This is something that Siouxsie Wiles has often written about: here and here, for example; her excellent book on the subject is reviewed here.) Fairly predictably, it didn't take long for the proponents of essential oils to turn up, soon to be joined by the usual […]

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vegetarian spiders? what is the world coming to?

Like probably everyone reading this, I have always thought that spiders are carnivorous, sucking the precious bodily fluidsA from their prey. I mean, those fangs! And I was wrong, for it seems that some spiders eat some plant material alongside their liquid meals – and some are almost fully vegetarian. A just-published paper (Painting, Nicholson, […]

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