Yesterday, a fascinating lecture was given at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI) by Prof Mark Pagel FRS entitled: ‘The Evolution of Language – Darwin would approve’.
Prof Pagel contrasted animal communication with human language and how speech has evolved and adapted much like biological species. Bringing together concepts of hominid evolution and contemporary evidence Prof Pagel described how language led to the dominance of modern humans over our close ancestors the Neanderthals, the genetic traits that exist because of language, and the future for the many languages that are still spoken.
We are glad to welcome Diana Espadinha (ITQB NOVA, Oeiras, Portugal) and Diego Flórez Cuadrado (Complutense University of Madrid, Spain) to our lab for a research stay with us as part of their PhD studies. Diana will stay 3 weeks, working on Staphylococcus genomics while Diego, for his second stay with us, will spend 3 months working on Campylobacter genomics and antimicrobial resistance. #goodtimes!
Top picture: Diana and Diego, on St. Patrik’s day at the Parade (Uni. of Bath); bottom picture, at the Raven of Bath, from left to right: Ben Pascoe, Evangelos Mourkas, Jean van Elsen, Diego Florez Cuadrado, Diana Espadinha, Jess Calland, Sam Sheppard, Guillaume Méric.
This years Darwin day lecture was delivered by Professor Nick Davies FRS (Cambridge University). In his talk, entitled ‘Cuckoo – cheating by nature’, Prof Davies described one of nature’s most intriguing stories to a packed lecture theatre at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. Captivating photographic and video footage showed how some cuckoo species lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and how little warblers are tricked into feeding enormous cuckoo chicks. In his talk, Prof Davies described how 30 years of elegant field experiments have revealed a continuing evolutionary arms race in which escalating host defences have selected for remarkable cuckoo trickery, including different guises in female cuckoos, forgeries of host eggs and manipulative begging by cuckoo chicks. This is a fascinating corner of Darwin’s “entangled bank” where organisms are continually adapting to keep up with changes in their rivals. Many thanks to all those who helped to make this event such a great success.
We are delighted to welcome Evangelos Mourkas, as a starting PhD student in our lab! Evangelos, who got his DVM from Greece, is coming to us from Uppsala University (Sweden). His research here will focus on Campylobacter transmission ecology.
Evangelos and Guillaume next to the University pond, being photobombed by an oblivious male mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) who has no idea of what Evangelos usually does to his species as part of his infection experiments work.
#TeamEvangelos, the genesis.
After more than 4 productive and fruitful years at Swansea University Medical School, our laboratory has now relocated to the University of Bath, at the Department of Biology & Biotechnology, and will be part of the future Milner Centre for Evolution in the near future! Along with Sam Sheppard, Daniel Falush, Guillaume Méric and Ben Pascoe have also joined the lab from Swansea.
Our website has been updated, and as always, you can follow our updates on this page, as well as on our Twitter feed (@sheppard_lab).
Our research on Campylobacter in seals story has also been recently mentioned in The Sunday Times, the South Wales Evening Post, the International Business Times.
Also, Happy New Year!