A non-expert’s guide to the hype: Why is the Denisovan-Neanderthal “hybrid” such a big deal?

Estimated reading time: 9 mins (1906 words)

So, you may have heard that a paper was recently published on the genome of a girl who lived around 90,000 years ago and was half-Neanderthal and half-Denisovan.

It kinda made the news…

Lots of people were excited, not just geneticists and researchers working with human fossils. And my favorite thing about a science story going viral is that it brings out the comedy gold:


To be fair, even Nature’s story on this publication was feeling cheeky:



But the ultimate tweets were without a doubt the Monty Python references:



And while the news articles that ran on this story gave a good overview of why researchers were excited about it, without the historical context of how we’ve understood human evolution until now, it can be really hard to understand just how incredible this discovery is.

So let’s back up a little bit…

Continue reading “A non-expert’s guide to the hype: Why is the Denisovan-Neanderthal “hybrid” such a big deal?”

Grad Life

March is for Mammal Madness (and trash-talking and memes)

Estimated reading time: 4 mins  (647 words)

The first time I asked what ‘March Mammal Madness’ was, the answer I got was:

“You know, it’s like March Madness, but with mammals”

to which I eloquently replied:

“What’s a march madness?”


Fast forward to me currently being well-versed in the US sports, allow me to explain for those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a “March Madness” (mammalian or otherwise).

March Madness is the nickname for the university-level basketball tournament that is held annually during March (and a little bit of April; see Wikipedia or your local sports encyclopedia for details).

The hype around this is that people gamble by filling in these “brackets” that predict who will win during these face-offs and advance to the next round and ultimately become the champion.

real bracket
See for reference a “real” bracket for this years basketball

So what’s the deal with March Mammal Madness?

Well, imagine if instead of basketball teams you had mammals battling against each other like Pokémon!

Replace Blastoise & Charizard with actual mammals and you get the drift

Continue reading “March is for Mammal Madness (and trash-talking and memes)”