All posts filed under: Evolution

How species change over generations: mutations, genetic drift, natural selection and more.

Seeing in the dark

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Anthropology / Evolution / Myths / Zoology

You’ve probably heard of echolocation. Whales, dolphins and bats all use it to find their way around when their eyes just aren’t up to the task. But did you know some blind humans have learned to do it too? Seeing with sound In the late 1700s, Italian scientist Lazzaro Spallanzani surgically blinded bats in an attempt to work out how they navigate when flying in the dark. He was amazed to discover blind bats could […]

The long way home

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Biology / Ecology / Evolution / Zoology

Fish do it, so do reptiles and insects. Mammals – including humans – do it too. The way some birds do it will blow your mind. We’re talking migration. Why do some animals travel around the globe and how do they find their way? And what happens when the habitat they need along the way disappears? Just keep swimming It’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to writing about animal migrations: there […]

Are we seeing eye to eye?

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Anthropology / Evolution / Myths / Psychology

Making eye contact with someone is powerful: at the very least, it shows you’re listening attentively. But how long before holding someone’s gaze starts to feel uncomfortable? And why is it hard to maintain eye contact and think at the same time?   Can’t take my eyes off you From birth, we prefer looking at faces that look directly at us. And from a very early age, our brains respond more to a face looking […]

A laughing matter

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Anthropology / Evolution / Myths / Psychology

When was the last time you laughed out loud? Can you remember what set you off? It turns out laughing is more complex than it might appear: we laugh for many different reasons. And some of them aren’t that funny. Is laughter the best medicine? Laughter has been claimed to be good for just about everything, from boosting the immune system, to decreasing stress and lowering blood pressure. There’s some evidence laughter protects against heart disease and […]

The sense of claustrophobia

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Evolution / Health / Myths / Psychology

Your panic is rising. The walls are closing in. You’re sweating, trembling, having trouble breathing and on the verge of fainting. It’s claustrophobia and it’s all-consuming. Many people experience claustrophobia and it can be utterly debilitating. Why, and what can be done? When the ceiling is too close Last week, I had an MRI. And for the first time, I had an inkling of what claustrophobia must feel like. I couldn’t see out either end of […]

The look of a liar

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Evolution / Myths / Psychology

The other day my seven-year-old told me a blatant lie. He wasn’t trying to hide the lie but instead immediately asked ‘did you notice the twinkle in my eye?’ Somewhere along the way he’d heard that twinkling eyes are a good indication of lying and he wanted to test me out. We’re all aware of certain gestures that are meant to clearly give away dishonesty. But it turns out although we may hear dozens of […]