A Tale of Two Parasites

Parasites are fascinating. We might tend to think of them as cunning free-loaders, slowly sucking the life out of their unsuspecting victims but the truth is often far more nuanced and bizarre. Modern parasites can permanently alter minds, castrate their victims to make them more useful, even replace their host's tongues, all just to get... Continue Reading →

When Is A Disease Not A Disease?

Today we're moving out of the arena of strict palaeopathology and instead we're going to look at something a little different. The topic is evolutionary medicine, which is in part the study of how diseases have evolved and how we have evolved in response. So we'll start with a question: when is a disease not... Continue Reading →

Eggs, Fungi and the Death of the Dinosaurs?

Few events in prehistory have attracted as much popular interest as the extinction of the dinosaurs. The disappearance of these iconic beasts has been debated and speculated over pretty much since the first discovery and identification of their bones. Today most researchers agree that the extinction was the result of some global ecological catastrophe, be... Continue Reading →

Dinosaurs and LSD?

Keeping with our theme of ancient drugs, earlier this year researchers from Oregon State University and USDA Agricultural Research Service discovered a remarkable fossil from the amber mines of Myanmar. ┬áThe amber was around 100 million years old, from the mid-Cretaceous and it contained the oldest known piece of grass. This alone makes it an... Continue Reading →

The Parasite that Killed a T-Rex

There are few dinosaurs quite as iconic as Tyrannosaurus Rex. At 12 metres long and up to 6 metres tall it was a ferocious apex predator, using its estimated 57,000N bite force to easily kill and eat the large herbivores of the day. Now you might expect that such a feared predator is going to... Continue Reading →

‘Zombie’ Worms Fed On Plesiosaur Bones

From mind-controlled ants to zombie worms. Although the 'zombie' tag is a bit misleading as these worms do nothing any more sinister then feed on the dead flesh of whales at the bottom of the ocean. This specialist genus of worms, properly known as Osedax, was first discovered by science in 2002 when a remotely... Continue Reading →

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