Category Archives: Animals

May 09

Uncle Syd and His Worms

[En español] Anybody, who does biological research using a model organism, especially those using an invertebrate, has quite invariably come across a certain prevalent hotchpotch of disbelief, cynicism and a reasonably uncomfortable amount of derision in the minds of their peers about the tiny creatures that they use to study biology.  “So, these flies really […]

January 31

Stars for Eyes – The Neurological Wonder of the Star-Nosed Mole

Beneath the eastern wetlands of Canada and the United States, there lives underground a bizarre and unique animal with an impressive list of evolutionary adaptations. This creature holds the world record as fastest eater among mammals [1], can smell underwater [2], and has a very unique sensory organ that basically operates as its eyes [3]. […]

January 17

What are habits?

Have you ever been driving and been so lost in thought that you aren’t even consciously aware of what you are doing? For a well-practiced skill like driving (and especially for a well-practiced commute) you might even find yourself arriving at your destination with little recollection of all the steps you took to make it […]

December 27

The Trouble with Drug Development

Open a new tab, load up a science media site you know. What do you first see across the front page? You will almost certainly find a headline blaring “NEW FINDINGS SHOW AUTISM’S DAYS ARE NUMBERED” or “UNIVERSITY RESEARCHER CURES PARKINSON’S DISEASE”. Open the page up next week, and you will almost certainly see some […]

October 04

The ethics of human brain surrogacy

“Creepy ‘brain in a bucket’ study spurs medical, ethical debates” … “Yale experiment to reanimate dead brains promises ‘living hell’ for humans” … “Scientists have managed to reanimate disembodied pigs’ brains – but for a human mind, it could be a living hell” … These are just a few of the sensational headlines that came […]

August 02

Snake Eyes: The Fear That Built Your Brain

Indiana Jones is a quintessential American hero, his fedora, satchel, and whip instantly recognizable around the world. He lives a double life, a scholarly professor of anthropology in public and a globetrotting treasure hunter in private. He defeats the Nazis and always gets the girl, displaying daring and fearlessness, with one notable exception. He has […]

May 31

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Genetic Memory

We are all products of our past, for better or for worse. At first glance, such a statement seems so obvious it hardly bears mentioning; our earlier experiences, both our successes and our failures, shape our current behavior.  But dig just a bit deeper, and it becomes far murkier. What can you call your past? […]

March 29

The animals snakes have nightmares about

The Box Jellyfish has venom so powerful that its human victims go straight into shock. The bite of a king cobra can result in the death of a healthy human adult within fifteen minutes. One drop of venom from a cone snail is capable of killing more than twenty humans. We live in fear of […]

January 18

I Feel Your Pain – The Social Transmission of Pain in Mice

We all know that emotions are contagious.  Your trip to the DMV might see you infected with that peculiar emotion – something halfway between apathy and misanthropy – that is endemic to the DMV.  On the other hand, your ray-of-sunshine coworker just may brighten up your day (unless you happen to work at the DMV). […]

December 07

Ancient Aliens Among Us

  First contact. The prospect of intelligent extraterrestrial life has tantalized us Earthbound humans throughout our history. In relatively recent times, artists such as H.G. Wells, Ursula Le Guin, and Gene Roddenberry have created wide-eyed fantasies full of violent invasions, fraught coexistence, and delicate peace between humanity and the Other. As early as the second […]