Chickenosaurus lives! But should we really play God with genes?

In what has to be one of the biggest ‘ewwww-factor’ experiments in a while, paleontologists at Yale recently tweaked chicken DNA to give the birds toothed jaws, a bit like Velociraptor. Although there was a lot of work involved in finding out which two DNA strands to tamper with, the process apparently didn’t add anything… More Chickenosaurus lives! But should we really play God with genes?

Summer writing inspirations – Monarch caterpillars

A swan plant in the back garden is filled with Monarch caterpillars. Eventually they’ll eat their fill, chrysalise, and turn into butterflies – all irrespective of the human society around them and all its drama and stupidities. It’s an inspiring thought. Taking a photo wasn’t easy. The plant was moving in the wind and the target miniscule,… More Summer writing inspirations – Monarch caterpillars

What happens when somebody does something stupid to the environment

I thought I’d share a photo I took a little while ago as an object lesson in what happens when somebody does something stupid with the environment. This is a was-a-road on the coast south of Napier, in New Zealand. It’s at the edge of an alluvial plain. Last time I saw this road – just… More What happens when somebody does something stupid to the environment

Canterbury quakes a reminder of the coming Alpine Apocalypse

This morning’s severe earthquake in Canterbury – initially thought to be magnitude 6.4 but since revised to magnitude 6.0 – centred 30 km west of Arthur’s Pass – is a reminder that these things are constantly with us in New Zealand. You can’t expect anything else, living on the edge of the Pacific Rim of Fire. Some 635 fault lines have… More Canterbury quakes a reminder of the coming Alpine Apocalypse

Did T-Rex really have feathers and taste of chicken?

Think dinosaurs and the first thing most of us imagine is a large two-legged carnivore with 15-cm teeth, power-shovel jaws and dinky forelimbs. A beast of prey that spent most of the Upper Cretaceous going ‘raaargh’ and having absolutely anything it wanted for breakfast. It was thanks to those jaws and 6-metre body that Tyrannosaurus Rex – named such in… More Did T-Rex really have feathers and taste of chicken?