Is the nervous system flexible or inflexible?

Playing football in New Zealand (yes, football, not rugby) can be dangerous. In a match of staff against students I was once knocked out for a short time by a clumsy player whose boot hit my head. Immediately thereafter I could not see with my right eye and that worrying condition remained until gradually my vision returned. Now, this does not have much to do with the topic of this essay, “neuroplasticity”, because the photoreceptors in my eye and the neurons in my brain that process the visual information were not destroyed. But had they been, what would have happened? Continue reading

zoology biology blood benno meyer rochow florian nock

Blood does not have to be red

And it does not have to be blue either

Imagine that you caught a fish and want to turn it into a meal. You cut off its head, there is no blood; you cut it open, there is no blood; you slice off a filet and you still don’t see red blood. You’d be surprised, but this could happen to you if you had a so-called bloodless Antarctic ice fish to prepare for dinner – and they are mighty rare and not supposed to be killed. Continue reading


Let’s focus on the good ones

I think we can all agree that not all partnerships are the same. The worst are probably those, in which both of the coalition are suffering. However, equally unpleasant are unions, in which one of the partners is benefitting, while the other endures hardship often to the extent of a deterioration of health. Such one-sided relationships are, of course, the hallmark of parasites attacking their hosts. The best partnerships are undoubtedly those, in which both members benefit and although it can sometimes be difficult to decide whether partners support or exploit each other, there are some natural partnerships that leave no doubt as to whether there are winners or losers: in fact both are winners. Continue reading