Not Exactly Rocket Science

Latest / page 4

Snakes have been around for nearly 100 million years and scientists have found many fossils of extinct species. But this astonishing specimen is different. This serpent is Sanajeh indicus. It is sitting in a dinosaur nest and its coils surround three eggs and the body of a hatchling. There are many reasons to think that…

Souvenir shops in South Africa are full of lamps made out of ostrich eggs. The eggs are so big and strong that you can carve and cut intricate designs into their shells. The egg’s contents are emptied through a hole and a bulb can be inserted instead, casting pretty shadows on walls and ceilings. The…

Quicker feedback for better performance

We’ve all experienced the agonising wait for feedback, whether it’s for exam grades, news from a job interview, or results from a grant application. These verdicts can have a massive influence in our lives but they can often take weeks or even months to arrive. And that’s a big problem, according to Keri Kettle and…

Wow. The nominations for the first ever Research Blogging Awards are in! The awards were created to “honor the outstanding bloggers who discuss peer-reviewed research”. Nominations were sent in by readers and an panel of judges have selected the finalists. Voting begins in a week’s time and bloggers who are registered with the community can…

The hidden face codes of fish

Take a look at these two fish. At first glance, they seem incredibly similar but in fact, they belong to two separate species. The one on the top is an Ambon damselfish (Pomacentrus amboinensis) and the one on the bottom is a lemon damselfish (P.moluccensis). If the distinction is hard for us to grasp, it’s…

Kill the post-embargo publication window

I can’t find the paper you’ve written about and your link doesn’t work. What’s going on?  I keep having to answer this question and it’s getting tiresome (although, as we’ll see, this no fault of the people who ask it). This post is borne of that frustration. At the bottom of every piece I write…

This article is reposted from the old WordPress incarnation of Not Exactly Rocket Science. We humans aren’t used to having our intelligence challenged. Among the animal kingdom, we hold no records for speed, strength or size but our vaunted mental abilities are unparalleled. But research from Kyoto University shows that some chimps have a photographic…

I grew up in the days of the SNES and the Sega Megadrive. Even then, furious debates would rage about the harm (or lack thereof) that video games would inflict on growing children. A few decades later, little has changed. The debate still rages, fuelled more by the wisdom of repugnance than by data. With…

A life in the trees is a longer one

An assortment of tree-living mammals In The Descent of Man, Darwin talked about the benefits of life among the treetops, citing the “power of quickly climbing trees, so as to escape from enemies”. Around 140 years later, these benefits have been confirmed by Milena Shattuck and Scott Williams from the University of Illinois. By looking…

Whiptail lizards are a fairly ordinary-looking bunch, but some species are among the strangest animals around. You might not be able to work out why at first glance, but looking at their genes soon reveals their secret – they’re all female, every single one. A third of whiptails have done away with males completely, a…