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, & […]

Continue reading

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, & […]

Continue reading

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, […]

Continue reading

on sleep (& lack thereof)

Recently, I had an enjoyable chat with Graeme Hill on the subject of sleep. Also on the show was Karyn O'Keeffe, whose research interests are with the physiology of sleep (& the lack of it). My segment focused on the evolution of sleep and yes, I did quite a bit of reading in preparation! Sleep […]

Continue reading

tunicates – apparent simplicity belies a complex past

Tunicates are more commonly known as 'sea squirts' – little blobby marine creatures that squirt water when you touch them (hence the name). We don't hear about them often, except perhaps when they make the news for all the wrong reasons. But from an evolutionary perspective they are fascinating little creatures – and it's largely […]

Continue reading

polyps + glowing proteins + hosts = disco snails!

By now many of you have probably seen images of green-glowing zebrafish, or pigs whose snout & trotters glow in the dark. In both cases the animals are genetically modified and are expressing a fluorescent protein originally sourced from a jellyfish. (The body form of a jellyfish is a medusa, while that of sea anemones & […]

Continue reading