From Past to Present

The Loch Ness monster – and why it matters

Michael Knapp Sep 07, 2019

Earlier this week, my colleague Neil Gemmell released the results from his year-long hunt for the Loch Ness monster. As expected, the story attracted enormous media attention. Also, as expected, it attracted some criticism from fellow scientists pointing out how unnecessary it is to conduct such a large-scale experiment to find something that every sane person and certainly every … Read More

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The discovery of a Denisovan jaw bone and what it can tell us

Michael Knapp May 09, 2019

Last week the discovery of a lower jaw bone of a Denisovan hit the headlines all over the world. Denisovans are a now-extinct species of humans that were closely related to us as well as to Neanderthals. To an outside observer, the excitement of researchers about this find might have appeared a bit over the top. After all, Denisovans have … Read More

TB or not TB: origin and antiquity of tuberculosis in New Zealand

Michael Knapp Oct 25, 2018

Recently, our team at the University of Otago embarked on a quest to identify how and when Tuberculosis (TB) reached New Zealand, by looking for the genetic signature of Tuberculosis bacteria in ancient human and animal remains from across the country. Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease which has been called a “global health emergency” by the World Health Organization, killing … Read More