Tag: evolution

  • The Mount Mulanje Pygmy Chameleon

    By far the rarest animal that I have encountered during my time in Mozambique has been the Mount Mulanje Pygmy Chameleon, Rhampholeon platyceps. A stunning little creature, it is endemic to the Mulanje massif, only being found in the southern and eastern-facing mid and high altitude evergreen forest of the massif. This includes the Ruo Gorge, where we came […]

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  • What can a blind cavefish tell us about circadian clocks?

    Circadian clocks and a revolving planet go hand-in-hand. But why so many plants and animals have a circadian clock from an evolutionary perspective is relatively unknown. One way to find out is to study animals that live in non-rhythmic environments. And at the end of 2013, my team published a study on exactly that: the […]

  • Parasitoid wasps and GM butterflies

    Foreign pieces of DNA are found in the genomes of many animals – these ‘Genomic parasites‘ are pure, genome hopping pieces of DNA code which embed their lifecycle within the DNA in our own cells. You could call this genomic parasitisation a form of genetic modification, just as scientists in labs the world over use […]

  • Why does Mozambique have a picture of a coelacanth on one of its coins?

    Like the currency of many African countries, the notes and coins of Mozambique feature images of some of the majestic animals of Africa: the elephant, the rhino, the lion. But one Mozambican coin features a rather more obscure animal, the coelacanth.

  • Colourful Chameleons and Stripy Zebras – The Coolest Animals in Africa

    You can say all you like about lions or elephants being the coolest animals in Africa. They are awesome for sure but they’re not quite the top. I suggest that that title goes to the chameleon and the zebra. Why? They are just so unique: one changes colour as much as a fashion model, and […]

  • Mosquitos – fine-tuned by evolution to preferentially feed on humans

    Would you look at that! The story of mosquitos, cheese and body odour has taken another leap into scientific respectability with a paper being published in the pinnacle of journals, Nature. “Evolution of mosquito preference for humans linked to an odorant receptor” by McBride and colleagues was published towards the end of last year and […]

  • Plants, polyploidy and producing new species

    When I talk about my career and my interest in evolutionary biology, I often get asked, “How do you actually get new species?”. It’s not a stupid question; for people without a background in biology it really is very hard to imagine how the diversity of life we see today has formed from the types […]

  • The physics of human walking and considering the wider picture

    Impulsive ankle push-off powers leg swing in human walking Susanne W. Lipfert, Michael Günther, Daniel Renjewski, and Andre Seyfarth J Exp Biol 2014 217:1218-1228. I love papers like this. The extreme level of detail people go to in the quest to discover is fascinating. The question that always comes to my mind is “What made them decide […]

  • The difficulty celebrating my first first-author paper

    The paper that my thesis worked towards was published last week.

  • Why have a circadian clock?

    Almost every animal and plant on the planet has a circadian clock, even those that live in the depths of the sea and deep underground in caves. The presence of clocks in almost all life-forms implies that it is a helpful or advantageous characteristic, an evolutionary adaptation, serving to improve the fitness of the organism. This […]