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The Wild Life of Columbus

The untold story of the species that stowed away on Columbus’s ship and how they have since changed the world.

Columbus sailed to the Caribbean in 1492. On that landmark voyage, and in subsequent trips, he was not alone. On his small ships, he was with other sailors, as well as a wilderness of other species quietly stowed away. We don’t usually think of the ships as wilderness. In fact, the travels of some of the species Columbus and later conquistadors brought with them from Europe to the Americas, are well studied. They brought, we know, terrible pathogens to which […]

By | February 2nd, 2016|Arthropods, Feature, Homes, Stories of Your Wild Life|1 Comment

The Beat Goes On

Princess Ahmose Meryet Amun — daughter of an Egyptian pharaoh — died with a heavy heart in 1540 BC.  It was not until 2008, some 3500 years later, that scientists discovered it was clogged arteries, or atherosclerosis, that ultimately contributed to her death.

Click on the timeline above to learn about this and other great moments in heart history and medicine. As you’ll see, our understanding of the heart happened in fits and starts through history, rather than a continuous series of progress. Learn more in Rob Dunn’s latest book, The Man Who Touched His Own Heart.


By | February 3rd, 2015|Hearts|0 Comments

Eating off the Floor: How Clean Living Is Bad for You

Ten steps to a healthier life and more wealth through embracing the bacteria around you.

Book titles are difficult to choose. In theory, a perfect title is concise, compelling, enticing and, oh by the way, accurately conveys some aspect of the book’s contents. In practice, most titles involve more compromise than perfection. The working title of my first book was Unknown. The book was about the biological unknown and what remains to be discovered as told through the stories of the discoverers and would-be discoverers. I liked the title. It […]

By | January 30th, 2012|Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments

Sick People Smell Bad: Why Dogs Sniff Dogs, Humans Sniff Humans, and Dogs Sometimes Sniff Humans

[quote author=”- Adulterated, in the interest of good science, from Sartre 1967, p. 174″]“The smell of a body is the (bacteria themselves) which we breathe in with our nose and mouth, which we suddenly possess as though (they) were (the body’s) most secret substance and, to put the matter in a nutshell, its nature. The smell which is in me is the fusion of the (bacteria) with my body…[/quote]

A man can live many lives. Paul Ehrlich has. Once, he was a butterfly biologist. Another time, he wrote the book called The Population Bomb, a book that triggered global conversations about […]

By | January 30th, 2012|Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments

NRC 24-Hour Grand Opening April 20-21, 2012

Mark Your Calendars! You are invited to the 24-hour grand opening celebration of the new Nature Research Center at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The 80,000-square-foot wing will bring research scientists and their work into the public eye as well as engage and inspire a new generation of young scientists. The Your Wild Life Team will be joining in on the fun during the 24-hour public event, from 5 pm on Friday, April 20, through 5 pm on Saturday, April 21, 2012. See you there!

By | January 25th, 2012|Events, Participate|0 Comments

Wild Life of Our Bodies on The People’s Pharmacy (Podcast)

Thousands of years ago (and more), human beings co-existed with a wide range of other species that lived around us and even on our skin and in our bodies. Biologist Rob Dunn, author of The Wild Life of Our Bodies, stops by The People’s Pharmacy to discuss how these organisms living on us, in us, and around us not only shaped our biology in the past, but continue to have effects on our health today.

By | January 25th, 2012|Audio|0 Comments

Scientific American Podcast

Think of the weirdest creatures you’ve even seen in a sci-fi film. Now think of this: there are far stranger, albeit smaller, critters living in your own home. And Rob Dunn at North Carolina State University wants you to go on safari to find them.

Research has been done on the diversity of bacteria, fungi and other organisms that live on our skin, in our guts, even in our belly buttons. But there are other entire ecosystems that surround us. And scientists want to understand how they differ based on how and where we live. What’s the tiny life like on […]

By | January 25th, 2012|Audio|0 Comments

Scientist Spots Missing Link in his Basement, but is too Sleepy to Catch it

If everything works out right a child in the years between two and ten spends hundreds of hours lying on the floor in her room contemplating childhood, walls, ceilings and whatever clouds float across the horizons of young, brains. Such hours of quiet revelation are important. It is during them when strange creatures sometimes come most clearly into view. As an adult, I am afforded relatively few days during which I have enough time to just lie around staring at the walls or the sky. But several nights ago such an opportunity arose. That is when I saw my first […]

By | January 24th, 2012|Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments

Public bathrooms house thousands of kinds of bacteria

…especially on toilets which, by the way, saved humanity, changed our ecology, and made the modern city possible.

If you are the sort of person who does not like to use public restrooms, I will warn you right now, this article is going to cause you some concern. It may lead you to hold it until you get home. It may even lead you to abandon bathrooms altogether for a bear’s life of pooping in the woods. The bears, after all, never have to worry about whether or not to put toilet paper around the rim of the seat. Then again, […]

By | January 24th, 2012|Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments

New Bee Species Discovered in New York…

New species of bee discovered in Gotham…

This exciting story reminds us of a radio interview Rob did with Jai Ranganathan at Miller McCune on the sorts of discoveries that remain possible in cities. You can find it here. Also of note, Britne Hackett, Benoit Guenard and Brian Parham recently discovered an ant species new to North America in New York City. We won’t tell you what it is yet, but we can tell you it is very common in Riverside Park, not far from Broadway. Go ahead and look. If you can find it too before we write up […]

By | January 24th, 2012|Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments

1% of the cells in your body are human?

The other 99% are bacterial? Really? Could this be? “I better google this,” you might be thinking to yourself.

Google away. The answer often tossed around, the one you will find in googling, is 90%. In other words, nine out of ten of the individual cells on your body are bacteria cells, or at least microbial cells. The 90% in this estimate include bacteria, archaea and the odd fungal species living in you. These cells are smaller than human cells and so their total mass isn’t as large as our total mass, but still large enough (picture something about the […]

By | January 24th, 2012|Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments

Man Discovers Giant Deadly Housefly

Each day, in each country, a housefly is born. Lots of houseflies really. Houseflies have been being born around us for thousands of years. They are born of what everyone else abandons, corpses, cakes, and excrement. And yet their story is inescapably a version of our story. They spread early out of Africa, bound to us. You find them wrapped in mummies, their bodies held tight against the bodies of pharaohs. You find them in ancient latrines, as larvae, tunneling through what we would rather be done with. At picnics they sit on hot dogs. In bedrooms, they look down […]

By | January 24th, 2012|Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments

How Probiotics May Save Your Life

Scientists seem to care a great deal about the health and well being of mice. Thousands of men and women with PhD’s dedicate their lives to helping mice suffering from a dozen varieties of cancer, diabetes, obesity, forms of autism and much, much more. These scientists awake in the middle of the night with bold new ideas. They dream of, if not grandeur, at least consequence, being the one to rush in at the last moment and bring an ailing rodent from the throws of death back to a healthy life. “Stand back,” you can almost hear them saying, “I […]

By | January 24th, 2012|Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments