Biology

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We wouldn’t get very far without lubricin keeping our joints moving. tableatny/Flickr

Nature’s lubricant makes your body a well-oiled machine

You may not have heard of the protein lubricin, but it's what keeps your body moving. And now it's being used to treat disease and produce new therapeutics.
Pretty impressive, mimicry octopus, but you don’t fool us. Klaus Stiefel/flickr

Some shape-shifting animals that can morph to fool others

Last week, a new frog capable of shape-shifting, was discovered. Though many other animals use camouflage, there are only a few other species known which can actually shift their shape.
Not all gross: mucus is vital for healthy airways. William Brawley/Flickr

Health Check: what you need to know about mucus and phlegm

We tend to notice mucus only when it’s abnormal and the sticky fluid is expelled from orifices. But actually it’s pretty amazing stuff. Every moment of our lives mucus is protecting our internal organs…
The bobtail squid and bioluminscent bacteria are just one of hundreds of examples of mutualism. Klaus Stiefel/Flickr

It takes two: how mutualisms evolve in a world of selfish genes

Reproduction for a female fig wasp can be a nightmarish process. When she is ready to lay her eggs, she leaves the fig in which she was born and became pregnant and searches for another. After she finds…
No, it’s nothing to do with a reptilian existential crisis – just a name game. melanie cook/Flickr

There’s no such thing as reptiles any more – and here’s why

You have likely been to a zoo at some point and visited their reptile house. A building where the climate control dial is stuck on the “wet sauna” setting, and filled with maniacal children competing to…
Every living organism needs the same five basic processes – and we can now model ecosystems on them. erban/Flickr

Life boils down to five ‘rules’ … or so says the Madingley Model

It may sound overly simple, but just five processes can define us as animals: eating, metabolism, reproduction, dispersal and death. They might not seem like much, but, thanks to a mathematical model from…
Dusty collections, or the foundations of science? David Iliff

Naturalists are becoming an endangered species

The phrase “Natural History” is linked in most people’s minds today with places that use the phrase: the various Natural History Museums, or television programmes narrated so evocatively by renowned naturalist…
Don’t mess with me. Crystal Ernst

Explainer: what is a pseudoscorpion?

Pseudoscorpions are commonly known as “false scorpions” or “book scorpions”. They belong to the Arachanida class, and, as the name suggests, they are like scorpions but without a stinger on their back…
It’s a delicate business, but the study of life can make our lives better. Kalense Kid/Flickr

Australia can nurture growth and prosperity through biology

AUSTRALIA 2025: How will science address the challenges of the future? In collaboration with Australia’s chief scientist Ian Chubb, we’re asking how each science discipline will contribute to Australia…
Glowing plants are frivolous? Most people don’t think so. jsalamandras

DIY scientists should not trade creativity for funding

The hobbyists who conduct biology in their garage are not a threat to society, according to a recent report published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. They aren’t developing a new…
This diet’s driving me batshit. dsevictoria

Do bats eat mozzies or moths? The clue is in the poo

Bats fascinate me. So, naturally, does their diet. Recent research showed that bats made “feeding buzzes” over saltmarsh habitats. These habitats are full of mosquitoes and this specific buzz is made only…
Publishing a peer-reviewed paper isn’t easy, but new research confirms it’s worth the fight. Cartoon by Nick Kim, Massey University, Wellington

Predicting who will publish or perish as career academics

It doesn’t matter whether or not you think it’s fair: if you’re an academic, your publishing record will have a crucial impact on your career. It can profoundly affect your prospects for employment, for…

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