Hilary Miller

Freaky bioluminescent creatures from the deep on TED.com - Chicken or Egg

Apr 20, 2010

A great new video out on TED.com today has Edith Widder describing some clever applications of bioluminescence in deep sea organisms. Some 80 to 90 percent of undersea creatures make light — and we know very little about how or why. Bioluminescence expert Edith Widder explores this glowing, sparkling, luminous world, sharing glorious images and [...]

Play your genes - Chicken or Egg

Apr 14, 2010

Ever wondered what your favourite gene would sound like if it was a melody? Well here’s a website where you can find out.  Basically what it does is take the DNA sequence, convert it to amino acids, and assign each amino acid to a musical note (with some modifications to make it more musical, described [...]

Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease: too good a match for the immune system - Chicken or Egg

Apr 13, 2010

A central premise in conservation genetics is that high genetic diversity is good for a species’ continued survival, and low genetic diversity is bad. This seems intuitively obvious (after all, we all know that you shouldn’t marry your cousin) but actually finding examples in nature where we can say for sure that low genetic diversity has [...]

New species of giant lizard ’discovered’ in the Phillipines - Chicken or Egg

Apr 08, 2010

In Biology Letters this week is the report of a new giant monitor lizard discovered in the Phillipines.  Varanus bitatawa is 2m long, brightly coloured and has a double penis, and lives high up in the trees on the island of Luzon.  It always amazes me when new species of large vertebrates are discovered in [...]

Songbird genome published - Chicken or Egg

Apr 01, 2010

The genome of the zebra finch was published in Nature today and is free to access here. This is the second bird species to have its genome published – the other one being the chicken.  The zebra finch is a member of the Order Passeriformes (the songbirds) and is something of a model organism in [...]

TED.com this week: science and morality, and the open data project - Chicken or Egg

Mar 25, 2010

A couple of interesting videos are out on ted.com this week: In the first, Sam Harris argues that science can answer moral questions, shaping human values and setting out what constitutes a good life. See here for Open Parachute’s take on this talk. And in the second, Tim Berners-Lee (creator of the world wide web) demonstrates [...]

Eye colour inheritance update #1 - Chicken or Egg

Mar 17, 2010

To update my post on the inheritance of human eye colour (as I’m sure you are all dying to know), the little monkey was born with dark grey eyes.  No surprises there as most newborns are born with eyes this colour.  Six weeks on, her eyes are taking on a distinct blueish tinge, with a slightly [...]

Feb round-up - Chicken or Egg

Feb 26, 2010

Well this month has been a pretty unproductive one for blogging, but extremely productive in other ways as I welcomed my new daughter into the world on Feb 2nd.  In amongst the endless feeding, dirty nappies and general sleep-deprived haze, I have occasionally managed to get online and thought I’d share a couple of evolution-y things that [...]

The complicated genetics of human eye colour inheritance - Chicken or Egg

Feb 01, 2010

I’ll be taking a break from blogging over the next month as the “egg” (or is that the chicken?) will be hatching.  As you do, when about to have a baby, I’ve been thinking a bit about inheritance lately – what colour eyes or hair will my baby have, how tall, who will he/she take [...]

Convergent evolution unites bats and dolphins - Chicken or Egg

Jan 29, 2010

A nice example of convergent evolution has been published in the latest issue of Current Biology, with two studies showing that echolocation abilities of bats and dolphins have the same underlying genetic basis.  Convergent evolution is where two species independently acquire the same trait in response to similar evolutionary pressures.  There are a huge number of [...]