The Biology and Psychology of Good and Bad Behavior

Tipping the balance of behavior: Social neurons and asocial neurons / Image by ZEISS Microscopy (Creative Commons) In Behave, Robert Sapolsky offers an inspired synthesis of how biology shapes human behavior—both the good and the bad. By Dr. C. Brandon Ogbunu / 12.01.2017 Assistant Professor of Evolutionary Biology University of Vermont The re-emergence of Neo-Nazi ideology; crowd-funded[…]

Hundreds of Pterosaur Eggs Help Reveal the Early Life of Flying Reptiles

Alexander Kellner (Museu Nacional/UFRJ) By Dr. Elizabeth Martin-Silverstone / 11.30.2017 Postgraduate Research Assistant in Palaeontology University of Bristol A hoard of fossilised pterosaur eggs discovered in China is helping scientists gain a rare insight into the extinct flying reptiles. Newly released research into over 200 eggs and 16 embryos from the pterosaur Hamipterus, including the first computed tomography[…]

Exploring Genetic Causation in Biology

By John McLaughlin / 07.02.2015 PhD Candidate in Developmental Biology Hunter College City University of New York In both popular culture and the technical literature in biology, the word “genetic” is ubiquitous. Despite its common usage and universal recognition, discussions centered around this concept usually leave its meaning taken for granted. We have the vague[…]

Primate Vocalizations are Much More than Gibberish

Chimpanzees use alarm calls to inform each other of danger. / Ronald Woan, Flickr Nonhuman primates clearly do more than just screech meaningless sounds at each other, but what are the limits of their communication? By Jay Schwartz / 08.25.2017 PhD Candidate in Neuroscience and Animal Behavior Emory University A chimpanzee is strolling along a[…]

Prehistoric Humans are Likely to have Formed Mating Networks to Avoid Inbreeding

Early humans seem to have recognised the dangers of inbreeding at least 34,000 years ago, and developed surprisingly sophisticated social and mating networks to avoid it, new research has found. 10.05.2017 The study, reported in the journal Science, examined genetic information from the remains of anatomically modern humans who lived during the Upper Palaeolithic, a period when modern humans[…]

When Evolution is Not a Slow Dance but a Fast Race to Survive

Afghan refugee Maimuna, photographed in Kabul in 2016. Photo by Hedayatullah Amid/Epa/REX By Wendy Orent / 11.08.2017 Anthropologist We all know what Neanderthals looked like: the beetling brow ridges, thick nose, long skull, massive bone structure – and probably red hair and freckled skin. You might do a double-take if you saw one on the subway,[…]

The ‘Rembrandts of Anatomical Preparation’ Who Turned Skeletons into Art

Engraving of a tableau by Frederik Ruysch (1744) Etching with engraving / National Library of Medicine By Dolly Stolze / 06.14.2015 In the 17th and 18th centuries, makers of osteological specimens built fanciful displays with skeletons standing in landscapes made with embalmed human organs, skeletons dangling hearts on a string like a yo-yo, or specimens playing instruments while[…]

Wallacea: A Living Laboratory of Evolution

Sulawesi, part of the biogeographical region of Wallacea, is home to tarsiers – tiny, goggle-eyed creatures look more like mammalian tree frogs than monkeys. Ondrej Prosicky/www.shutterstock.com By Dr. Jatna Supriatna / 10.15.2017 Professor of Conservation Biology Universitas Indonesia The central islands of Indonesia – between Java, Bali and Kalimantan (also known as Borneo) on the west[…]

Evolutionary Geneticists Spot Natural Selection Happening Now in People

As genes are favored or phased out, human evolution continues. ktsdesign/Shutterstock.com      By Dr. Molly Przeworski, Dr. Joe Pickrell, and Hakhamanesh Mostafavi / 09.11.2017 Przeworski: Professor of Boiological Sciences Pickrell: Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Mostafavi: PhD Student in Biological Sciences Columbia University Human evolution can seem like a phenomenon of the distant past which applies only to[…]

Retracing Romer’s Footsteps

Stephanie Pierce, Chris Capobianco, and Blake Dickson survey the Bay of Fundy at Blue Beach, Nova Scotia. Photo by Katrina Jones Mystery drives Nova Scotia fossil quest in tidal area where famed scientist once worked. By Rebecca Coleman / 09.22.2017 The mood was celebratory on a remote, rock-strewn beach in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Stephanie Pierce and[…]

Can You Pass this Smell Test?

The smell of daffodils is a treat for most people, but some cannot experience the joy because they have lost their sense of smell. Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko/Shutterstock.com By Dr. Steven D. Munger / 08.24.2017 Director, Center for Smell and Taste Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics University of Florida Each of our senses gives us a unique[…]

Seeing without Eyes – the Unexpected World of Nonvisual Photoreception

Color-changing cells in an Atlantic squid’s skin contain light-sensitive pigments. Alexandra Kingston By Dr. Thomas Cronin / 08.09.2017 Professor of Biological Sciences University of Maryland, Baltimore County We humans are uncommonly visual creatures. And those of us endowed with normal sight are used to thinking of our eyes as vital to how we experience the world.[…]

Storing Data in DNA Brings Nature to the Digital Universe

The next frontier of data storage: DNA. ymgerman/Shutterstock    By Dr. Luis Ceze and Dr. Karin Strauss / 07.27.2017 Ceze: Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Strauss: Affiliate Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering University of Washington Humanity is producing data at an unimaginable rate, to the point that storage technologies can’t keep up.[…]

How the Flu Changes within the Body May Hint at Future Global Trends

What can a single person’s flu infection tell you about how the virus changes around the world? / Xue and Bloom    By Dr. Jesse Bloom and Katherine Xue / 06.27.2017 Bloom: Associate Member, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Associate Professor of Genome Sciences and Microbiology Xue: Doctoral Student in Genome Sciences University of Washington Evolution is usually[…]

The Cognitive Sciences: One or Many?

“Close up of The Thinker” / Photo by Brian Hillegas, Creative Commons By Dr. Michael RW Dawson Professor of Psychology University of Alberta Introduction When experimental psychology arose in the nineteenth century, it was a unified discipline. However, as the experimental method began to be applied to a larger and larger range of psychological phenomena,[…]

The Scientific Process

Figure 1.14 Formerly called blue-green algae, the (a) cyanobacteria seen through a light microscope are some of Earth’s oldest life forms. These (b) stromatolites along the shores of Lake Thetis in Western Australia are ancient structures formed by the layering of cyanobacteria in shallow waters. (credit a: modification of work by NASA; scale-bar data from[…]

Neuromechanics of Flamingos’ Amazing Feats of Balance

How do they do while sleeping what we can barely do at all? Carlos Bustamante Restrepo    By Dr. Lena Ting and Dr. Young-Hui Chang / 05.23.2017 Ting: Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Medicine, Emory University Chang: Professor of Biological Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology If you’ve watched flamingos at the zoo – or if you’re[…]

Scientists Publish First Comprehensive Map of Proteins within Cells

[LEFT]: In epidermoid carcinoma cells, that the protein SON (green) is localising into nuclear speckles, a substructure in the nucleus. [RIGHT]: SEPT9 (green) localizes to actin filaments in epidermoid carcinoma cells. The first analysis of how proteins are arranged in a cell has been published today in Science, revealing that a large portion of human[…]

The Conflation of Health and Fitness

By Myron Getman / 01.01.2013 Scientist New York State Department of Health conflate:  \kən-ˈflāt\, 1) to bring together, 2) to confuse How often have you heard someone exclaim, “Boy are they fit”?  Perhaps you’ve heard people talk about how someone might be “diesel,” “built,” or “put together”?  Depending on where you live, there are countless[…]

Is Humanity Naturally Good? Exploring Richard Dawkins’s ‘Selfish Gene’

Lecture by Dr. Alistair McGrath at the Museum of London / 04.04.2017 Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion University of Oxford What is the future of humanity? Nobody knows. For a start, we might suffer the same fate that is thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs – an ‘extinction event’ caused by collision[…]