August 2012
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Archive: BioBlog August 2012

The ‘fishing’ chimps of Bakoun

Alison Campbell Jan 09, 2017

I’m currently supervising a graduate student who’s writing a review of the literature on tool use in wild chimpanzees. This has become a most enjoyable interaction: it’s a topic I’ve been interested in for quite a while now, so the supervision role is an excuse to extend my own knowledge, and it’s great helping the student to enhance their own … Read More

Melibe Engeli – the strangest thing I’ve seen in ages

Alison Campbell Dec 20, 2016

I mean, really – have you ever seen something like this before? Melibe engeli is a type of sea slug, and a most unusual one. Its body is partly translucent, and has projections called cerata, themselves covered with smaller projections called papillae, down both sides. The animal is an active hunter – but what a hunter. It lacks the … Read More

“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

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