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BLOG: An evolution of epigenetic mechanisms through genomic analyses of nematodes

The Department had the pleasure of hosting Peter Sarkies (Imperial College London) who gave a talk about his work concerning the evolution of epigenetic mechanisms through genomic analyses of the nematode phylum. Peter’s research has demonstrated how sampling organisms across a range of evolutionary distances within a single phylum, as opposed to being reliant on data from conventional model organisms that are evolutionarily very distant, can reveal fundamental molecular insights.

‘Friends of friends’ relationships may be simpler than they seem

Forget “It’s complicated”: Social life is actually less complex than it can appear.

New research, from Oxford University and University of Exeter, gives clues into how social networks can evolve by showing that complex social patterns observed across the animal kingdom may be simpler than they appear.

Not only are our own friends an important aspect of our life, but so are our friends’ of friends. These ‘friend-of-a-friend’ relationships are known as ‘indirect social connections’, and show where each individual is positioned within the overall social network.

BLOG: Interview with a Vampire – Exploring the Predatory Bacteria Bdellovibrio

With the air of Halloween still lingering, this Monday the audience at the Museum of Natural History found themselves captivated by a gruesome tale of vampiric creatures preying on their unsuspecting victims. In a fascinating seminar, Prof Liz Sockett (University of Nottingham) introduced us to an ancient “bloodsucker” whose violent delights have only started to come to light in the last 50 years: the predatory bacteria Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus.

Chimpanzees shown spontaneously 'taking turns' to solve number puzzle

A new study from Kyoto and Oxford universities and Indianapolis Zoo has shown chimpanzees spontaneously taking turns to complete a number sequencing task.

Previous studies have shown chimps working together in strictly alternating turn-taking scenarios. However, these results are the first to demonstrate that chimpanzees can cope with more complex permutations of turn-taking, with no external cues to help time their behaviour.

Aliens may be more like us than we think

Hollywood films and science fiction literature fuel the belief that aliens are monster-like beings, who are very different to humans. But new research suggests that we could have more in common with our extra-terrestrial neighbours, than initially thought.