Not Exactly Rocket Science

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Oops! Giant Raptor’s Wishbone is Actually a Bit of Turtle Shell…

Last November, palaeontologists announced the discovery of Dakotaraptor, a super-sized relative of Velociraptor that stalked the Hell Creek Formation of North America alongside Tyrannosaurus rex. It was a formidable animal, 18 feet in length, with 9.5-inch sickle-shaped claws on its feet. The dramatic beast was described by Robert DePalma from the Palm Beach Museum of […]…

I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (6 February 2016)…

Sign up for The Ed’s Up—a weekly newsletter of my writing plus some of the best stuff from around the Internet.   Top picks From me at The Atlantic: Clearing the Body’s Retired Cells Slows Aging and Extends Life The Weird Thing About Cat Legs “You are worthy”: Melissa Wilson Sayres’ wonderful letter to students, on […]…

Butterflies Forty Million Years Before Butterflies

There’s a group of fossils insects that look really quite a lot like butterflies. They had broad wings with scales and pigmented eyespots. Their mouthparts were long probing straws. They likely fed from plants and pollinated them in return. They’re as butterfly-esque as it’s possible to be. Except these creatures were flying around between 40 […]…

The Forest In Your Mouth

The study of the human microbiome—the booming and much-hyped quest to understand the microbes that share our bodies—began in the mouth. Specifically, it began with dental plaque. In 1683, Antony van Leeuwenhoek, the first human ever to see bacteria, became the first human ever to see his own bacteria. Untrained as a scholar but insatiably […]…

I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (23 January 2016)…

Sign up for The Ed’s Up—a weekly newsletter of my writing plus some of the best stuff from around the Internet.   Top picks From me at the Atlantic: Consoling Voles Hint at Animal Empathy Venus Flytraps Are Even Creepier Than We Thought The Fairy Tales That Predate Christianity Dissolvable Brain Sensors Disintegrate Once Their Job […]…

Ants Write Architectural Plans Into The Walls of Their Buildings…

Imagine constructing a building with no blueprints or architects, and no inkling of what the finished edifice should look like. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, and yet that’s what ants and termites do all the time—and the results speak for themselves. They can build huge underground metropolises full of interconnected chambers and galleries, […]…

The Eyes Have It – My Feature on Eye Evolution is Up

I’ve been blogging at National Geographic for a few years now but today, my first feature story for the magazine itself is up! It’s about the evolution of the eye, in all its unpredictable messiness and glorious diversity. This piece has been in gestation since I first pitched it in September 2013; in the intervening time, I […]…