All posts filed under: Evolution

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

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 […]

The look of concen­tration

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Evolution / Health / Myths

Most young kids do it. Michael Jordan was famous for it. And it’s quite possible you do it too. What am I talking about? Sticking your tongue out when you concentrate. It’s incredibly common and over the years there have been a variety of theories attempting to explain the habit. Recent research supports the suggestion it’s connected to the way humans evolved spoken language. A quirky tongue? Next time you have the opportunity, watch a […]

Living to a ripe old age

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Biology / Botany / Evolution / Health / Zoology

When I was a kid I aspired to live to 100 so I could get my letter from the Queen. These days I have a rather different view of the monarchy and more insight into the pivotal role of good health in old age. If you want to talk old age, there are a plenty of other animals and plants with lifespans far more impressive than ours. The question is: why do some living things live so much longer than others?

Smells like nostalgia

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Evolution / Myths / Psychology

Is there a smell that has the power to transport you back in time? For me just one whiff of an old-style canvas tent and I’m back camping with my family as a young kid. There are other evocative odours too. The smell of bread dough rising in the sun and a bonfire with damp plane tree leaves…