The natural word: Coprolites

Definition: fossilised faeces Bones are all well and good, but there’s plenty to be learned from certain things that ancient creatures left behind, from their behind. Coprolites are lumps of faeces that have been preserved well enough to have mineralised into rocks and become fossils. The largest known ancient coprolite almost certainly came from a … Continued

The natural word: Halteres

Definition: small modified wing structures which aid flight control in true fly species Flies can seem both incredibly stupid and incredibly smart. They buzz inanely around the room, intermittently bashing into window panes. Yet they seem to have a preternatural ability to avoid being swatted. Before your hand gets anywhere near, the fly somehow veers … Continued

The natural word: Salps

Definition: a family of marine invertebrate filter feeders which form long chains as part of their life cycle. When walking along a beach or by the water’s edge you may come across a transparent blob washed up on the shore or floating in the shallows. If your first thought is ‘jellyfish’, then you might be … Continued

The natural word: Ecdysis

Definition: the process of shedding an exoskeleton during a moult or transformation Having a skeleton on the outside can be great, this tough waterproof body armour having served arthropods like insects and crustaceans well for over millions of years. However exoskeletons can be problematic when it comes to the small matter of getting bigger. Our … Continued