August 2011
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Archive: BioBlog August 2011

“Killer neandertals” – a wild claim that doesn’t want to go away

Alison Campbell Nov 07, 2016

A while ago now (6 years ago, in fact! How time flies when you’re having fun), I wrote a piece about some fairly wild claims made about Neandertals. Rather surprisingly this post continues to attract occasional comments from those who firmly believe in the idea that Neandertals were cannibalistic, brutish savages rather than our very close cousins, an idea … Read More

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Parts of our genome are actually viral

Alison Campbell Nov 04, 2016

I’ve just come across a most excellent article by the Genetic Literacy Project. In it, Nicholas Staropoli notes that a proportion of the human genome actually has viral origins. This might sound a bit strange – after all, we tend to think of viruses as our enemies (smallpox, measles, and the human papilloma virus come to mind). But, as … Read More

‘Miracle Mineral Solution’ – the woo-filled gift that keeps on giving

Alison Campbell Nov 03, 2016

I’ve written before about the so-called ‘miracle mineral solution’, aka MMS (here, for example), but I see that it’s hit the news again recently. MMS is essentially bleach1, but one Jim Humble has made quite a little empire (and a ‘church’) out of selling the stuff, and has previously claimed that it’s a preventative & cure-all for just … Read More

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Selection and dog breeds

Alison Campbell Sep 16, 2016

So, I own a pocket wolf… Oh, OK, I own a little black mini-poodle. But, like all dogs, he has the same number of chromosomes as a wolf! There’s been several articles posted recently about the evolution of domestic dogs. While we’ve tended to think that domestication didn’t begin until humans began to settle down & develop agriculture, DNA analysis suggests … Read More

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COOLs? Are they as cool as they sound?

Alison Campbell Sep 04, 2016

The National government is proposing a number of amendments to the NZ Education Act. One, which has already received quite a lot of press, sounds rather like a return to bulk funding under another name. But the latest one to hit the news is more like an untried social experiment with the potential for a lot of brown stuff to … Read More

Run! Well, amble! The giant carnivorous snails are coming!

Alison Campbell Mar 15, 2016

There’s a lovely, life-size bronze sculpture of a Powelliphanta land snail sitting on my china cabinet. I love it because a friend made it for us – and because snails in this genus are rather special, for they are all carnivorous. Now, I ‘knew’ this fact, but I’d never actually seen one feeding. Snails being normally rather slow, sedate creatures, it … Read More

Attack of the zombie snails

Alison Campbell Mar 10, 2016

The semester’s begun, teaching has started, admin isn’t letting up any time soon, & there are days when I feel like a zombie by home-time. So it seems entirely appropriate to revivify a post I wrote 3 years ago, on that very subject. Honestly, sometimes I think the zombie apocalypse is already here. Certainly zombies seem to be flavour of … Read More

Tunicates – apparent simplicity belies a complex past

Alison Campbell Feb 29, 2016

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 due to … Read More

Every major’s terrible (sorry, G&S)

Alison Campbell Feb 29, 2016

This is an amended re-post of something I first wrote back in 2012. We’re in the lead-up to the start of the A semester & lately I’ve spent a lot of time lately advising students on their programs of study. (Consequently I’m a bit short of the time needed to give attention to serious posts on Serious Subjects.) One of … Read More

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