Smart as a Possum

What led to the evolution of relatively larger brains in mammals? For that matter, what led to the evolution of relatively larger brains in placental mammals compared to metatherian mammals (marsupials)? These questions remain largely unanswered despite Read More...

A Whiter Shade of Pale

As it was with the peppered moth, so it is with the deer mice of Nebraska’s Sand Hills. Covering roughly a quarter of Nebraska, the Sand Hills are grassy dunes of light colored sands deposited Read More...

Shrew Digestive Enzyme Repurposed into Venom

The diminutive short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda) has long been known to possess toxic saliva. Early reports indicated that humans bitten by short-tailed shrews suffered swelling and burning sensations in the region surrounding the bite. While not lethal to humans, the venom Read More...

Right-handed Clicks in Porpoises

To be clear, dolphins are not porpoises and porpoises are not dolphins. They are related, of course; both are toothed whales (Odontoceti). However, dolphins belong to the family Delphinidae and porpoises belong to the family Phocoenidae). Porpoises are the smaller, chubbier Read More...

Necks-for-sex, or Necks-for-food? Why are giraffe necks so long?

Why has it been so hard for scientists to explain why giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) have such long necks? After all it has been almost 140 years since Charles Darwin proposed that competition for food among African browsers led to Read More...