Fish from nowhere?

Where do fish come from? That might seem a stupid question, but when a new pool forms, unconnected to any rivers, fish sometimes appear, seemingly from nowhere. Nobody has put fish in the pool. The pool is not connected with any other waterways that have fish. Yet after a few months or years, there are…

Living in the dung, looking at the stars

Dung beetles don’t have a glamorous life. They eat and often live in dung. They spend their days (or nights) finding dung dropped by a larger animal, rolling chunks of it into balls, and then bowling the balls home to their underground tunnels. Don’t under-estimate them — we would be knee-deep in unspeakable muck if…

A story in earwax

We all get earwax, even whales. But whales don’t have fingers or doctors with syringes and so their earwax stays there, building up, year after year. Yuk, you might think. But we can learn a lot from whales’ earwax. The wax accumulates into a long plug which is trapped inside the whale’s head. It builds…

A metal nose, a pet moose and the stars

We take it for granted that the universe changes. It began with the Big Bang, is still expanding;  stars generate, die and are recycled. But until the sixteenth everyone believed – as the great Greek philosopher Aristotle had taught – that the heavens are eternal and unchanging. Then in 1572, a new star appeared. That…

Dead heads all in a row

The creature in the picture is a caterpillar with a pretty weird habit. That bit that looks like a spike is actually a pile of heads. As if that wasn’t odd enough, the heads all once belonged to the same caterpillar.   Caterpillars go through molts as they grow. They start off teeny-tiny, and as…