Guest Post: The Baby Equinox and Charles Darwin

On this year’s summer solstice, the longest day, my daughter is about to reach her own personal equinox. She has lived outside of me for nine and a half months, almost as long as she spent swimming in my belly. The milestone means she now belongs to the world more than to me. In a […]

Not all stories are words, not all maps are pictures

You know those sounds that slip across the senses until they settle, in the brain, on an association entirely unrelated to their maker? Those sounds that seem to almost synesthetically transform one thing into another? The way noise can be brilliant, or color evokes flavor, or a smell touches old dreams? An unspectacular-looking, fist-sized bird […]

Guest Post: The Descent of the Testes

  I did not plan to write about testicles this week. And I do not recommend plugging the phrase “elephant testicles” into Google’s image search engine. But I had a nagging question about the fierce little mammal sketched above, and one literature search led to another. Before I knew it I was  — forgive me gentle […]

Saccorhytus coronarius Is Your Weird Cousin, Too

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Mouth. Anus. Reproductive bit in between. Isn’t that all one really needs to get by? I’m oversimplifying, of course. Lungs are helpful if you live on land, for example. But check out our newly discovered really ancient fossilized ancestor. Saccorhytus coronarious, unearthed recently by paleontologists in sedimentary rock in […]

No Rings, Pops, or Bells

I don’t know what to do with my phone. It makes noises that I don’t understand. Sometimes it sounds like a jackpot machine and I want to throw it as far as I can. The last few days I found myself out of range while driving across southern Utah, trying to call my boys to […]

Redux: Boobies Behaving Badly

In 2015, I wrote a post ostensibly about a funny-looking seabird called the booby. It’s about evolution and biology I suppose but in truth, it’s really about the forces of nature that drive at least some of our actions. And how those forces aren’t always good.  In my last post I made the case for why we […]

Marine Iguanas Don’t Want to Cuddle With You

I was in the Galapagos Islands in July, which felt a bit like traveling to another planet. At least, that’s what I’d imagine an interplanetary hop to be like. The land features are familiar and yet not quite—lava fields still sharp and freshly black or dotted with hopeful plant life, colossal rocks turned to sculpture […]

Funny Bird

  Here comes dawn. The sky yawns and the sun flicks its lids above the horizon. But just before the lights come up on Virginia’s rolling hills, the sound of morning commences. Can we call it a song? That might be a stretch. There’s a certain musicality to it. You’re no doubt familiar with its silly refrain. […]