Posts Tagged ‘evolution’

All things tend towards jazz

Posted on February 4th 2012 in Features with Comments Off on All things tend towards jazz

Midnight is approaching. Smoke fills the air of the dark, subterranean jazz club. People crowd the room, drinking heavily and talking softly. As tonight’s performers take to the stage, silence descends on the waiting audience, afraid that they might miss a single note. Why such reverence? Because the music  they are about to hear is improvised – it has never been performed before, and will never be played again.

Our ancestors speak out after 3 million years

Posted on November 30th 2011 in News with Comments Off on Our ancestors speak out after 3 million years

Read this article at New Scientist

A new superhero is born – Squidman

Posted on November 28th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on A new superhero is born – Squidman

Not many animals could legitimately claim to have a super power. But two little sea creatures, living deep in the dark blue ocean, have an ability many of us have fantasised about possessing – they can turn invisible at will. The heroes of this story are two cephalopods – an octopus called Japetella heathi and a cuttlefish called Onychoteuthis banksii – henceforth known as the supersquid. You can see their near-magical talents in the video below: Why should the supersquid need such an awesome power? Sarah Zylinski from Duke University, North Carolina tested the two squid in conditions replicating their…

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Silk stockings get lady spiders in the mood

Posted on November 4th 2011 in Blog with 2 comments

  Animal behaviours can sometimes jump out at you by their similarity to the kinds of things humans do. Most recently, I came across this video of golden orb-web spiders. Dominating the picture is a large speckled black and white female, confidently waiting for her next unsuspecting meal to arrive. What might not be so obvious is the weedy orange male, running scurrilously on her back. Not exactly a very human-like behaviour, I hear you say. Well, I answer back, you don’t know what he’s doing there. What he is doing, is wrapping her body in the finest silks his…

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Hey there, sexy!

Posted on October 4th 2011 in Features with Comments Off on Hey there, sexy!

Blind dates are stressful affairs. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of being set up on one, you’ll know the feeling: dozens of different emotions coursing through your body – anxiety, anticipation, hope, excitement – and all because you’re about to meet someone who could, potentially, be the person of your dreams. Alternatively, they could be a complete nightmare, and an excuse to leave as quickly as possible… (This is a feature I have written for Guru Magazine. You can read the full article below. Hope you enjoy!) Open publication – Free publishing – More entertainment

Beardy wierdy

Posted on June 14th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Beardy wierdy

Beardedness is not a word I would have ever expected to find in a scientific journal. However, it has sprouted up everywhere in one particular article published in the journal Psychological Reports. Beardedness – the condition of having a beard – apparently serves as a signal fora great number of qualities. From the first downy tufts that appear on awkward, pubescent boys to the magnificent monument of hair that graces Brian Blessed’s glorious face, the beard is one of the definitive markers of manhood. As puberty starts, testosterone levels in the blood spike causing hundred of hair follicles in the…

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Surveillance society

Posted on May 7th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Surveillance society

Ever found yourself doing something that you know you probably shouldn’t be doing? And, when you’re doing said unscrupulous act, are you constantly wary of anyone who might discover and judge you? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. It turns out this fear of being caught is part of our evolved psychology. Acts of moral dubiousness are seen as being far worse when in the presence of another – as a study published this week has shown. To test this idea, the authors of the paper wrote two stories of malfeasance – one involving taking money from a missing wallet,…

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Grasping for attention

Posted on April 27th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Grasping for attention

Collectors come in all shapes and sizes. Some are relatively tame, such as the humble stamp collectors and comic book hunters. Others are harder to understand. For example, Michael Lewis has a handsome collection of Moist Towelettes. Sergei Frolov has over 150 Soviet Calculators. Most bizarrely though, for 27 years Graham Barker has been scouring the globe for only the finest examples of belly button fluff. Why do these people waste so much of their time and money (and sanity) on amassing large numbers of similar items. Many ideas have been suggested over the years. Some have said its purely…

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Down in the dumps

Posted on March 21st 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Down in the dumps

If you men out there have just broken up with your girlfriend, you will probably hear the platitude “time is the greatest healer”. Given enough time you will be able to forget that old flame and move on to someone better. Science has, unfortunately, shown this to be nothing but empty words. According to the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology [pdf], women viewed men who had been rejected by their previous partner as significantly less desirable for long term relationships. Men who dumped their old lady were actually seen as better partners. Conversely, men found women less attractive if they found…

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Nurturing nature

Posted on March 12th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Nurturing nature

Animal behaviour is a subject that has always fascinated me. At first glance, the actions of animals seems so familiar, obvious to the point of not being noteworthy. They eat when they are hungry, they run when danger is present, and they get down to it when, you know, they want to. What I find really interesting is the debate that so often crops up as to whether these behaviours are instinctual, built into the genetic makeup of the animal, or learnt through experience and upbringing. In other words, is it nature or nurture? I’d like to answer by saying…

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