The organisms that cause us untold suffering can also be astounding works of art, sculpted by evolution into elegant, deadly packages. Such is the case for the trypanosomes, the protists I discussed last time as the source of Chagas Disease, but which also cause sleeping sickness in Africa.
Nerds have a particular fascination for the Cthulhu mythos of horror novelist and all-around-weird-guy H. P. Lovecraft. In Lovecraft’s stories, Cthulhu was a tentacle-faced titanic god-monster who slept in a mythic undersea lair called R’lyheh, dreaming of the day he could emerge to destroy humanity.
How many ways are there to be multicellular on Earth? You know, organisms made of more than one cell? Let’s see . . . plants, animals, and fungi.
The tropical plant Genlisea is a tiny, homely rosette of simple green leaves. If you dig up its roots, you will find what look like an unremarkable bunch long, pale underground roots.
Perhaps you’ve heard of — or even read — the children’s book “Everyone Poops“. This illustrative tome explains that because everyone eats, everyone poops.
As I reported in a feature story in Scientific American last December , some fungi have been behaving badly of late, attacking bats, plants, amphibians, reptiles, and people with gusto, driving many species to extinction and others to the brink.
The kissing bug may have the most misleadingly cute name in entomology. It bites, rather than smooches, its victims around the mouth or face.
Today is the birthday of one of my science heroes: Carl Linnaeus. Born on May 23, 1707, the Swede turned natural history from a hobby into a science with his masterful systemization and documentation of what had until then been haphazard classification of plants, animals and fungi.