Chicken or Egg

New Zealand’s favourite plant

Hilary Miller Jan 15, 2010

Hot on the heels of Forest and Bird’s “Bird of the year” competition comes the NZ Plant Conservation Network’s 2009 favourite plant poll.  The winner was announced just before Christmas but I must have missed it in the Christmas rush.  While voters in the bird of the year poll managed to display a stunning lack [...] … Read More

The importance of evolution in medicine

Hilary Miller Jan 14, 2010

An upcoming issue of PNAS has a special supplement on evolutionary medicine, with articles arising from the Arthur Sackler Colloquium on “Evolution in Health and Medicine” that was held last year.  Evolutionary medicine is a relatively newly recognised field that applies the principles of evolutionary biology to understanding health and disease.  But medical science has in fact been making use [...] … Read More


X-ray as art

Hilary Miller Jan 08, 2010

Nick Veasey likes to X-ray things.  Big things, like buses and jumbo jets, and small things like leaves and feathers.  And then he turns them into fantastic art pieces. This video from has some great images, so I thought I’d share it with you – who’d have thought X-ray could be so artistic? Toiling over 14-inch sheets of [...] … Read More

How hard can a tuatara bite?

Hilary Miller Jan 06, 2010

As a geneticist, I’m only rarely let out of the lab to chase after my study animal, the tuatara.  I count these occasions as a gift, where I get to feel like a “real” biologist and learn to talk knowledgably about the ecology and habits of tuatara (which, lets face it, are generally of more interest to [...] … Read More

Over-enthusiastic swallowing

Hilary Miller Dec 18, 2009

With Christmas coming up, I thought it might be timely to post something about the perils of overeating.  Then I found that Tetrapod Zoology had beaten me to it, with a series of posts on “overenthusiastic swallowing”, where various animals try to bite off more than they can chew.  Literally. Head over and see what happens when [...] … Read More

Personal perspectives in the life sciences for the Royal Society’s 350th anniversary

Hilary Miller Dec 15, 2009

As part of the celebrations for their 350th anniversary, the Royal Society of London have just released a special, open-access issue of their Philosophical Transactions B journal, containing a series of perspectives from leading scientists on contemporary topics of high interest and importance.  In this freely available issue the authors, selected on the basis of their knowledge and [...] … Read More

So what is a gene, exactly?

Hilary Miller Dec 13, 2009

Ever wondered just what a “gene” is, exactly? Well turns out that even geneticists are wondering the same thing these days, as they learn more about the genome and find that the concept of what comprises a gene is becoming more and more vague. This months BioScience journal has an interesting (open-access) article on how the definition of a gene [...] … Read More

Molecular ecologists meet in the Catlins

Hilary Miller Dec 03, 2009

Last weekend I attended the 12th Annual NZ Molecular Ecology meeting, held in the Catlins, in the deep south of New Zealand.  NZ’s molecular ecologists have a traditional of holding their annual meeting in beautiful, out-of-the-way places, and this year was no exception with the Tautuku Outdoor Education Centre in the heart of the Catlins being our base.  This [...] … Read More