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 […]
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 […]
Before goji berries, chia seeds and spirulina, there was honey. The second sweetest thing found in nature, honey is the original superfood. Not only is it extremely tasty, honey has been used in medicine since ancient Egyptian times. What is it about honey that makes it so special? The magic of bee vomit The earliest written reference to honey hails from about 2000 BC: a Sumerian clay tablet refers to its use as a drug and […]
We’ve all heard about ‘clever’ animals... learning to use tools, communicate complex information and solve problems. But can animals count?
Can’t get enough of Pokémon Go? There’s no shortage of people glued to their screens desperate to catch a Snorlax or Vaporeon. At the same time, thousands of people are hooked on Wildlife Spotter: a National Science Week project that involves spotting real animals. Why is the search for these real and imaginary creatures so addictive? When you don’t know what you’re going to get Back in the 1950s, psychologist B. F. Skinner made a fascinating discovery. […]
Have you ever been to a pheromone party? The idea is to find your perfect partner based on smell, yep: body odour. All you need is a smelly t-shirt, a zip-lock bag and an open mind. We know pheromones play a huge role in the animal world, but scientists can’t agree if the same is true for us.
Hi I’m Jen and I’m not a big fan of spiders. Research shows I’m not alone: fear of spiders is one of the most common phobias in the world. But why are so many of us scared of spiders when hardly any spiders are actually dangerous? And what can we do about our arachnophobia?
Bats, bears and some birds do it, but humans can’t: hibernation. Animals hibernate to save energy through long cold winters. Sounds appealing, doesn't it? NASA wants to know if human hibernation is possible. Why? Because it because it would make the trip to Mars a hell of a lot less boring.
Confession time: I adore chocolate. I’ll never forget a chocolate experience I had almost 20 years ago when I was given the opportunity to try some <em>Gymnema sylvestre</em>. It’s a herb that suppresses your ability to taste sweetness. And eating chocolate straight after the herb was rather distressing. The chocolate had virtually no taste and had the texture of wax, or maybe soap. I could feel it coating my tongue and teeth and I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to eat it again. That’s the power of our taste buds. But not all animals can taste the same flavours we can.
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?