The Value of Art to Science—A story of rotting bodies, belly buttons and the music of symbiosis

In The Man Who Touched His Own Heart I tell the story of the artist Leonardo da Vinci’s discoveries inside bodies. Among the most astonishing of his efforts came late one afternoon in 1508 when…

“[D]a Vinci was at the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital in Florence, a church hospital. He was not a doctor, but he already knew more about the human body than almost anyone else who had ever lived. He was talking with a very old man, a centenarian. The man, who is known to history simply as il vecchio, the old one, was kind and garrulous. He had lived […]

By | June 4th, 2015|Belly Button Biodiversity, Books, Hearts, Science Art, Video|4 Comments

Could there be 200 million species on Earth?

Recently, one of my colleagues, Brian Brown, found thirty new species of flies in urban Los Angeles. Species not yet named. Species not yet studied. Species that could be of great value to society (or, less likely, great cost) but that had just gone missed, flying among highways and movie stars.

The discovery made by Brown and his team is wondrous, revelatory, awesome, and makes me want to look for new species of flies in my own backyard. But, in a broad sense, it is not a surprise, for one simple reason, two hundred million species live on Earth […]

By | April 13th, 2015|Books, Homes, Wild Life of Our Home|4 Comments

Chimps and Humans are Less Similar than We Thought

Mary Claire King, as much as any individual scholar, has changed how we think about what it means to be human. She did so using genetics as a lens through which to see what was otherwise invisible. In her hands this lens offered many insights. It was King who first identified a key gene in breast cancer. It was King who helped to identity the missing dead in Argentina in the 1980s. It would also be King who, in 1975, first compare the genetic similarity of humans and chimpanzees. It was known chimpanzees and humans were similar, kin, but just how similar? One could […]

By | April 8th, 2015|Books, Hearts|3 Comments

Life at the Margins

Some discoveries and innovations come from big labs funded incredibly well by governments in affluent countries. They come from those in the mainstream, freighters plowing ahead, forward, straight, with ever better technologies and ever, larger groups of young minds. I tend to write about the other discoveries, the insights and revelations made by the folks at the edge of this mainstream, those in the oxbows and edge riffles.

Even in the era of “big science,” discovery still depends on folks at the margin, folks far enough on the outside to see what others are missing. Often these individuals do not have […]

By | February 19th, 2015|Books, Feature, Hearts, Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments

The Pump of Youth

What is the secret to a long life? The heartbeat of some animals may hold a clue.

Studies have concluded that mammals get about a billion heartbeats per lifetime. They can use them at a rate of a thousand per minute, like the shrew, or space them out into slow, ponderous beats, over many years, as is the case for the grey whale. But there are notable exceptions. Some species get more than their fair billion beats. The extent to which these species live beyond a billion beats must depend, in part, upon unique features of their biology. Whatever these features […]

By | February 2nd, 2015|Books, Hearts, Participate, Projects|0 Comments

A Heart-to-Heart with Rob Dunn

We’re excited for the upcoming release of Rob Dunn‘s new book, The Man Who Touched His Own Heart, on February 3! After taking on the parasites, microbes, mutualists and predators that shape our human selves in his last book, The Wild Life of Our Bodies, Rob has moved on to explore the history and science of our most vital organ, the heart. Get a sneak preview of the book in this Q & A:

Interviewer: I’d like to ask you more about the story behind the story of your heart book.

Dunn: OK, sounds great.

What is the heart?

Oh, […]

By | January 27th, 2015|Books, News, Q & A|1 Comment

The Truth About What Makes Us Human (and Writing Books)

New analyses of chimpanzees and humans reveal them to be far more different than suspected, perhaps as much as 95% different.

Sometimes it takes time to see something clearly. This is especially true in writing a book. Book writing, even non-fiction book writing, is voodoo magic. It is a pot of incantations out of which emerges the animal with which one must wrestle in mornings, afternoons, evenings and dreams.

Book writing begins under reasonable control. A proposal emerges. The proposal includes a table of contents; the table of contents is pushed this way and that by, if you are lucky, an […]

By | December 27th, 2014|Books, Explainer|0 Comments

It’s HERE!

Today we are pleased to announce the publication of Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants of New York City!

In this new FREE eBook, Dr. Eleanor delights readers young and old with tales of the Big Apple ants most commonly encountered by students participating in the School of Ants project. Her stories of the heroes and villains that tiptoe around the city are brought to life in this interactive new book featuring the vibrant photographs of Alex Wild.

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What are you waiting for? Download Dr. Eleanor’s Book […]

By | February 17th, 2014|ants, Books, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

Coming Soon…

**NOTE 2/17/2014: Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants of New York City is now LIVE — Download your copy of the interactive eBook or pdf today!**

Dr. Eleanor has set her sights on the ants of the Big Apple. Coming soon to Your Wild Life…

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Join our mailing list so we can notify you as soon as Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants of New York City goes live and is ready to download.

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By | February 6th, 2014|ants, Books, Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments

Citizen Scientists Document the Spread of Giant Cricket, Basement to Basement

05camel cricketIt is an animal the size of a pinky finger. It hops wildly, blindly out of the dark.  And still, somehow, it has moved unstudied basement to basement across North America, the yeti in our midst. It is the Asian Camel Cricket (Diestrammena asynamora).

In previous work with citizens, we very accidentally discovered that this cricket had spread much more than we (or perhaps anyone) suspected. It appears to have spread primarily indoors, though it’s also being found outdoors as it hops away from houses to find, well, we […]

By | September 27th, 2013|Books, Camel Crickets, Participate, Projects|44 Comments

Let Me Introduce You to Your Tiny Neighbors

**Today we have a guest post from the one and only, Dr. Eleanor Spicer Rice, author of the NEW eBook, Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants.**

As a myrmecologist, I’m always intrigued by people’s reactions to ants. From total disinterest to full-on flailing freakout, many people feel an ant is an ant is an ant.

While the faces of these six-legged picnic ruiners might blend together from our giant’s height, the ants surrounding us are incredibly diverse. More than 20,000 ant species crawl around the earth. In North America, nearly 1,000 […]

By | April 15th, 2013|Books, Feature, Projects, Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments