Tag Archives: DNA

The lonely walk to extinction

Our very species is an oxymoron. When Linnaeus added us to the taxonomic ranks of life, he dubbed humans Homo sapiens: literally meaning ‘wise man’. Sometimes I wonder how ‘wise’ we are. We can send people to live in space, … Continue reading

Posted in Woolly Mammoth, Woolly Rhinoceros | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lost, as the moa is lost!

Every biologist has a gateway species. The taxon you had never heard of before that just looked so weird and unusual that you had to learn more. So, you looked up a few books, searched some library holdings, maybe photocopied … Continue reading

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The moo of the wild

In a sense, Pleistocene megafauna are still with us even in post-industrial England. It may not seem like it but the humble heifer is probably the most successful species of megafauna on the planet, outnumbering all the elephants, rhinos, whales, … Continue reading

Posted in Aurochs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Who were the Denisovans anyway?

Human evolution used to be the preserve of two groups of academics: the ones who liked fossils and the ones who liked stone tools. Both regarded the other as peculiar for being obsessed with the wrong part of a massive … Continue reading

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Paddington’s dangerous cousin

North and South America were the last continents to be conquered by humans. We have been in Africa since we first evolved, Europe and Asia for over a million years, in Australia for about 60,000 years, but in the Americas … Continue reading

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The bear necessities

Humans and bears have a strange relationship. On the one hand we see them as lovable, smart, curious creatures (think Baloo from the Jungle Book). On the other, we have taken great pains to exterminate them wherever and whenever we … Continue reading

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Mr Darwin’s lost sloth

Ground sloths are weird. The two-toed and three-toed varieties of memetic fame that we are left with only hint at the absurdity of different genera such as Eremotherium, Megalonyx, and Nothrotheriops: bear-sized to elephant-sized behemoths, covered in shaggy fur, and sporting … Continue reading

Posted in Ground Sloth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments