Tristan Wadsworth

Tristan is an archaeologist currently working in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the wake of the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. He spent the last three years finding aboriginal archaeological sites in the deserts of Western Australia. His interests run the gamut of human cultural activity, but he wastes his spare time running, reading, outrigger canoeing, and just looking at things with furrowed brow.

Cyborg bugs? Juvenile insects have gears in their butts - Unsorted

Jun 20, 2016

Cybugs. Scientists at the University of Cambridge have found that a genus of insects have tiny biological butt-gears that synchronise its legs when it jumps. Head through this link to watch the video. The buttgears of the Issus coleoptratus. Image: © Burrows and Sutton. The nymphs (juvenile forms) of the genus Issus, known for its fundamentalist views and attempts to form an Insectic State in the Middle-Leaf, are the bugs at the centre of the study. Interlocking cog-like joints on the juvenile back legs act like a simple gear, rotating together to synchronise both legs when they jump, a feat more difficult to achieve with the nervous system.   Issus coleoptratus nymph. Image: Martin Cooper. Although crocodiles  have been described as having ‘cog-teeth’-like valves in their hearts, the Issus planthopper is the first known … Read More

Friendly foxes: experiments in domestication - Unsorted

Apr 11, 2016

There’s one major trait in which domesticated animals differ from their wild counterparts: tameness. In the shift from wolf to dog, from aurochs to cattle, domesticated animals have all become considerably more chill than their forebears, and is only through selective breeding of the tamer, friendlier members of the herd or flock that our modern domesticates show such a marked difference in attitude. The aurochs, extinct ancestor to modern cattle. An animal so badass its impossible not to paint it it going around goring wolves for funzies. Image: Heinrich Harder, ‘Long horned European wild ox (aurochs).  In 1959, in an attempt to study the effects of selective breeding for ‘tameability’, Dmitry Konstantinovich Belyaev set up an experiment with silver foxes, selecting and breeding the friendliest pairs. The experiment has run for … Read More