rising ape life


Image: Captain Tucker

Throat singing: a storm of sound on the steppes - By Sam Jarman The day dawns cold, clear, and still. A nomadic Mongolian herder knows that sound will carry well in these conditions, so he takes his chance. Climbing onto his horse, he rides into the wilderness, intent on finding…
Lionfish wreak havoc on marine ecosystems - By Roisin McDonough The lionfish, beautiful in appearance and un-problematic in their native regions of the Indo-Pacific have wreaked havoc as an invasive species in the Atlantic; having become well established  in the Southeast coast of the US, the Gulf of…
Touch nature - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh I touched a rhinoceros yesterday; it was pretty awesome. A real, live rhinoceros. His name is Shaka. He was big, warm, rough, and surprisingly docile. He seemed gentle and easygoing, but I was…
Design, Naturally: Lateral lines provide a sixth sense for underwater robots - By Anwen Bowers Have you ever seen two fish bump into each other? The underwater world is an assault of sensory signals. Sound, for example from crashing waves, travels over twice as fast in water than it does in air.…
Natural Cycles: Part 1 – The circle of life and waste - By Anwen Bowers The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a vast area in the Pacific Ocean where huge amounts of plastic and other slow-to-degrade waste has accumulated over the past half century. Rubbish from all the rivers in North America…
Design, Naturally: Wasps take the sting out of brain surgery - By Anwen Bowers “I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidæ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars …” This statement from Darwin is often quoted…
Design, Naturally: Sharkskin V Superbugs - By Anwen Bowers Antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest challenges faced by the healthcare industry. The evolution of superbugs such as MRSA is evidence that the arms race between antibiotics and bacteria is not a sustainable strategy for preventing…
W is for Wasps - It’s summer time.  And you know what that means? Sure, summer means picnics, barbecues, and sun. But it also means the coming of the most dreaded outdoor villains: wasps. Some people freeze up when they see the stripey serial stingers,…
T is for Tardigrade - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh  Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew.  They’re versatile! No, I’m not talking about taters.  I’m talking about tardigrades: quite possibly the most durable creatures on Earth. They might also be the…
S is for Simple Rules - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh Consider the following: schooling fish, roundabouts, segregation, and human consciousness are all examples of the same fundamental property of the world.  It may seem crazy to suggest that roundabouts may be interesting in some sense,…
stephen hawking right about nasty aliens Vegetarian aliens could save our bacon - By James Riley Bacon is tasty, very tasty. It’s so tasty that my moral objection to the industrial-scale murder of sentient animals dissipates with each and every ketchup-soaked bite. This is a weakness on my part. I’m theoretically ethical but…
R is for Ratzilla - An excerpt from my favourite scene in the 1987 film, the Princess Bride: Westley: Rodents of Unusual Size? I don’t think they exist. [R.O.U.S. attacks Westley] Westley: Ahhhh!!! Why is that my favourite scene?  Because I laugh every time I watch it. The R.O.U.S.…
Q is for Quokka - What’s half a metre long, weighs 3-4kg, and has the cutest face you ever did see? Nope, cuter. Even cuter. Yup, there it is!  This, dear readers, is a quokka.  A native of South west Australia, this marsupial has recently…
plant defences rising ape P is for Plant Defences - By Jonathan Farrow of the Thoughtful Pharaoh As the great glam metal band Poison sang in 1988, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn“. Like so many glam metal bands to grace the world’s stages before them, none of Poison’s members were botanists.…
N is for Naming - By Jonathan Farrow of the Thoughtful Pharaoh Next time you happen to be walking though the Chamela-Cuixmala nature reserve on the West Coast of Mexico, keep your eyes out for this parasitoid wasp: Its scientific name is Heerz lukenatcha.  There is also…
L is for Loch Ness - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh Loch Ness, in the middle of the Scottish Highlands, has more fresh water in it than all the lakes and rivers in England and Wales combined.  It is neither the deepest lake in…
K is for Kepler - “Truth is the daughter of time, and I feel no shame in being her midwife.” Johannes Kepler These words, written by Johannes Kepler in 1611, are profound.  At the time, Galileo had just discovered the Galilean moons (including Europa) in Florence but was being…
I is for Island Evolution - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh Unbeknownst to the rest of us, a debate has been raging in the world of biogeography.  The debate stems from a simple observation made by a young Canadian scientist in 1964: island animals are…
E is for Europa - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh Galileo Galilei is quite a famous astronomer but many of the discoveries he’s known for are just extensions of the work of others.  For instance, he didn’t come up with the idea that the…
D is for Dinosaur Evolution - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh When was the last time you ate dinosaur?  I had some just the other day, next to my peas and carrots. Shocking as it may seem, dinosaurs are all around us and we…
C is for Cat Feces - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh I’ve never been a cat person, myself.  They just seem a bit too contemptuous as a species. Cats, aside from being aloof, clawed, and kind of mean, also form a necessary part in…
Microbat Photo by Neal Foster B is for Bat Echolocation - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh Ever wish you could see in the dark?  It would make life a bit easier.  No more tripping over clutter on the ground or feeling walls for a switch.  Humans rely quite heavily on…
A is for Axolotl - This week the Thoughtful Pharaoh explores the life and times of the Peter Pan of the animal kingdom: the axoltl
rising ape Not Such a Slippery Slope - “It is important that legislation keeps pace with scientific progress.” Robert Winston A little breakthrough for medical research happened last week, not in the lab, but in the House of Commons. By a huge majority the commons voted to allow a…
Welcome to the new age of antibiotics - By Alex Hale “I have been trying to point out that in our lives chance may have an astonishing influence and, if I may offer advice to the young laboratory worker, it would be this – never to neglect an…
Homosexuality IS natural, (according to nature) - by James Riley One reoccurring argument constantly levelled against homosexuality is: “it’s just not natural.” Well, if you take a close look at nature, you’ll see that isn’t quite right. (Feature Image, Original Credit: Simon Speed) Animals partake in various same-sex…
zombies are real Zombies: The Theoretical Pathogenesis - by James Riley “When hell is full, the dead shall walk the Earth.” (Feature Image, Original Credit: Gianluca Ramalho Misiti) Are zombies real? To many people, the idea of a horde of ravenous zombies tearing through the nation is a…
It’s not just a girl thing: A health crisis that’s being ignored - By Alex Hale A sex induced epidemic could be sweeping across the western world. 80% of people get some form of a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection at a point in their lives. This is one of the most common sexually…
Option or obligation: an opt-out donation issue - By Alex Hale “Every right implies a responsibility; Every opportunity, an obligation, Every possession, a duty”   John D. Rockefeller Not everyone wants to donate their organs. Sadly, in our aging, obese, drug addicted nation, the demand for organs is on…