Posts

Hip hip, hurray!

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Anyone who knows me or has seen me walking in recent years will be aware that I have longterm problems with one of my hips. In February just gone, I went home to Spain and was met at Barcelona airport by my brother. On the drive to my parents' house, Calloway asked exactly what was wrong with my hip, which had been freshly replaced 2 months prior. I started with "Well, you know what they did to my hip when I was a baby, right?"
"Not exactly, no..." he replied.

A lot of people ask about my hip, so I decided to use the 6-month-versary of my shiny new titanium hip as an excuse for a completely self-indulgent post about what was wrong with my hip to begin with and why I needed a replacement two weeks into my 25th year (and an excuse to show off my scar and some x-rays, look away now if it embarrasses you to see x-rays of my pelvis).

Bee orchids

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GOOD THINGS 2016 BROUGHT THE WORLD

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Yes, it has been a tough year for the world. We've lost iconic and talented artists and public figures, the UK has lost its min–, I mean, Europe, and the US has voted for a hate-mongering orange baffoon called fart to be their next president.

Much of the West despairs for the ideological murder that has occurred. When many of us thought things were getting better and we were all learning to accept each other, we've been hit in the face with a barage of hate. Europe swings to the right, the US follows suit. The warming global climate continues to melt icecaps and exacerbate poverty in Africa, ISIS continues to ravage the Middle East, refugees continue to flood into peaceful neighbouring countries – only to be met with reluctance and disdain.

However, the inundation of bad news and the intolerable coverage of the US presidential "race", means that many of us may have missed some of the good things that have happened this year.

We've dragged ourselves through 2016 an…

Water Worlds

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This post was originally published under the title "Water Worlds" in the December 2016 issue of The Biologist, the Royal Society of Biology's magazine. If you're a member of the RSB you can also view the article on their website here.



Tropical rainforests are known for being full of life. Whether you're captivated by the calls of colourful birds, mesmerised by hypnotically patterned cats, or fascinated by the apparently infinite variety of invertebrate life, you still have to acknowledge that what makes a rainforest are the plants. A forest is by definition a collection of trees, but there is a whole lot more to plant life in a rainforest. Coating every surface, including the trees themselves, are more plants. Some of these we would as surface-covering vegetation in temperate environments as well, like the mosses and liverworts that coat stone walls or the dandelions that poke their sunny faces out between cracks in the concrete. However, there are plants which in…

Flowers under the sea

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Past the sandy beaches and rocky shores, beneath the lapping of breaking waves, coasts around the world are (were) carpeted with green underwater meadows of seagrasses. Contrary to what you may be thinking, seagrasses are not a form of seaweed or even vaguely related, though they do often co-occur. Seagrasses are in fact angiosperms, flowering plants whose ancestors adapted to life in salt water back when dinosaurs roamed on land. Is anybody else picturing an plesiosaur gliding over a bed of seagrass? The ancestors of seagrasses took many biochemical and physical shifts in order to adapt to a wet and salty lifestyle. However, amazingly, an important feature that seagrasses have retained despite millions of years of evolution under the sea is their ability to flower.

Work in progress: how the tambarikôsy got its colours...

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The name of my blog tends to bewilder people, and things don't seem to become much clearer to them when I translate it.

Seagrass ecosystem services (Grass Roots Biology)

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This post was originally published under the title "Grass Roots Biology" in the December 2015 issue of The Biologist, the Royal Society of Biology's magazine. If you're a member of the RSB you can also view the article on their website here. The images are not those used by the RSB nor are they mine, the copyright belongs to their credited owners and most are from ARKive.org.
Grass Roots BiologyHome to myriad species and acting as massive carbon sinks, seagrass meadows are key marine habitats – but they are disappearing fast, reports Xaali O'Reilly Berkeley The Biologist 62(6) p16-19
Seagrasses are a group of flowering plants adapted to live in salt water. They grow, flower and pollinate completely submerged in estuaries and along shallow coastal waters around the globe, both in temperate and tropical environments. Although they physically resemble grasses and grow in large expanses called meadows, the term seagrass actually refers to the ecological niche the plant…