A Little World Within Itself: My First Voyage to the The Galápagos

In 1835, Charles Darwin wrote these worlds in the Voyage of the Beagle: “The archipelago is a little world within itself, or rather a satellite attached to America, whence it has derived a few stray colonists, and has received the general character of its indigenous population.” Chapter XVII: “Galapagos Archipelago” (second edition, 1845), entry for … More A Little World Within Itself: My First Voyage to the The Galápagos

Jackson Wild, CITES & UNDP – Raising the Profile of Wildlife in Peril

A mother lion-tailed macaque cradles her baby against her, undisturbed by the camera crew in close proximity. Polar bears trudge across sludgy ice floes to find ringed seals in winter. A herd of pronghorn antelope bounds across the screen and condors fly high over herds of guanaco. These are just a few of the many … More Jackson Wild, CITES & UNDP – Raising the Profile of Wildlife in Peril

The Chicken that Plays Puccini: A Question of Animal Awareness

The other day, while looking for something to watch on YouTube, I was offered up in the side-bar a series of videos of a chicken playing the piano. Intrigued, I clicked on the link and was treated to two minutes and one second of a chicken at an electric piano playing “O mio babbino caro” … More The Chicken that Plays Puccini: A Question of Animal Awareness

Pandemics: Our Complex Relationship with Animals

Just a couple of weeks after the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, which was meant to engage the world in “a billion acts of green,”  saw us focusing instead on a global Coronavirus pandemic catalyzed, it would seem, by eating wild animals (most likely bats) from so-called “wet markets” in Wuhan (if you follow the … More Pandemics: Our Complex Relationship with Animals

On Becoming Human

I’m enjoying a rare opportunity to indulge in a little bit of curation. At Carnegie Museum of Natural History, we are putting up a new display on human evolution called Becoming Human and I’m working with our wonderful exhibitions team to work through the various stages of its development. It’s going to be installed next … More On Becoming Human

Art, Science and the Intersection of Knowledge

I’ve always loved this painting. Vertumnus looks serenely at the viewer, a slight smile making you think he knows something you’d like to. It’s a clever work of Mannerism, seamlessly weaving a complex array of perfectly rendered fruits and other plants into the portrait of a human face full of character. The portrait is of … More Art, Science and the Intersection of Knowledge

What’s wrong with a gay facial recognition program

Last September, there was a brief flurry of activity over the idea of a program that can distinguish homosexual versus heterosexual faces, based on their online dating image (see this, for instance, from the BBC). It started shortly before a scientific article was published by Stanford’s Yilun Wang Michal Kosinski in the online journal Open … More What’s wrong with a gay facial recognition program

Counting Your Chickens: The World’s Most Numerous Bird

If you Google “the world’s most numerous bird,” you will likely be given articles about the Red-Billed Quelea (Quelea quelea), also known as the Red-Billed Weaver Bird or Red-Billed Dioch that lives across most of sub-Saharan Africa. It’s considered the most numerous wild bird on earth,  the population sometimes peaking at 1½ billion individuals. Individually, … More Counting Your Chickens: The World’s Most Numerous Bird