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 Yet they appear to have been replaced by […]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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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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