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Rich uses plain language to explore in-depth biology topics | fascinating plants and exotic creatures | www.biology4everyone.com | indulge your curiosity!
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In what seems like a millennium ago, I think one of my biology teachers said something to the effect that every 7 years, all the cells in my body would be new ones because all the old ones would have died and been replaced.

I thought that was pretty neat! I mean, we know that some cells like the blood cells are replaced pretty rapidly. And some cells stay for a really long time, like bone cells and nerve cells.

And that kind of consoled me because many years ago, I was a smoker and I was pretty sure that…


A figure from this article showing clustering of the dietary intake into 25 patterns

Every time I go into the kitchen looking for a quick snack, I always seem to come away with the same thing; some form of bread product.

It could be a slice of toast or crackers or a cookie but no matter what shape or form it takes, it’s bread!

Now in my defense, I make all my own bread so it’s pretty nutritious with a high whole wheat flour content and lots of good things in it like nuts and seeds and other good grains, but it’s still bread. Which is kinda limiting.

If you fall into similar habits…


Photo by Tony Pham on Unsplash

When I or my partner walk around our yard we look at the plants and wonder things like, do they need to be watered? Are they getting enough fertilizer? Are the slugs bothering them?

There’s all sorts of magazines and online resources that will tell you to look for this or that. Or if you see the leaves turn this colour it means they need this nutrient or there’s too much of that one.

But what if the plants could just tell us what they want?

“Hey, I’m thirsty! Can you please water me now!”

A couple of years ago…


Pharmacy leech jar, England, 1830–1870. Credit: Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

My partner and I went on a camping trip in BC’s Interior region this past summer. One of our overnight camps was on a small remote lake up in the mountains that just a few locals seemed to know about. A Mom and her young son were paddle-boarding it. When we asked them if it was ok to swim in they said “Yeah, but you have to pick the leeches off when you come out.”

Yuck! We DID NOT swim in it!

I don’t know about you but the thought of having leeches sticking to me and sucking my blood…


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I never stop hiking. Different seasons just mean you need different upper body gear to keep warm and different footwear to ensure you don’t careen down the side of some steep snow slope or slip on a section of icy trail.

Each of the seasons has its particular beauty to appreciate. Here in the Pacific Coast rainforest where I live, one of my particular joys is being welcomed by Spring with its profusion of new green growth and flowers.

And I have to say, I’m always more than a bit surprised at how many people who hike the trails have…


Photo by Krista Mangulsone on Unsplash

How quickly do you trust someone? Is it a spur of the moment- this feels right- kind of thing for you or do you take your time? Or a mix of both?

A couple of weeks ago, I attended an online panelist discussion. One of the presenters, Dr. Dana Hubler, a Northern BC family physician, talked about treating Indigenous people and other folks who have experienced a long history of racist discrimination in Canada’s healthcare system. …


What a lovely batch of quotes and insights. There are so many wonderful writers out there and it's totally true, you have to write about the things you know about and love! That's what keeps me going!


A Proterocladus antiquus fossil dating back 1bn years. The image was captured using a microscope as the fossil itself is 2mm long. Photograph: Virginia Tech/PA and was taken from an article in The Guardian.

Did you know that there is a branch of scientific study called taphonomy? I sure didn’t.

It’s pretty amazing to realize that there’s just so much out there we don’t know! And never will. But I have to admit, when I do find something new and unusual that I’m interested in or think I should know something about, I’m both humbled and excited.

And taphonomy* just became one of those areas for me.

From Wikipedia: “It’s the study of how organisms decay and become fossilized or preserved in the archaeological record… The term taphonomy was introduced to paleontology in 1940…


Photo by J E W E L M I T CH E L L on Unsplash

“I just, feel that they, they forget that this is where the people live.”

“They don’t take the time. They don’t see who I am. I’m invisible.”

“It feels like, they just left you in a room, room to die.”

These are some of the feelings that patients communicated in a recently published study from a Fraser Health research team that also included two Patient Partners as members of the research team.

Umm… did you say Patient Partners? I’ve never heard of any patient called a partner, before.

Frankly, I’m not surprised. Welcome to patient-oriented research.

What?! You never heard…


Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

Have you ever wondered what all the big fuss was about genes and sequencing? Or, for that matter, what the heck does it mean when someone says they had their DNA sequenced? Or maybe you got your DNA sequenced for one of the genealogy sites to find relatives and they tell you that you probably came from such and such a place and these people might be related to you, 3rd cousin three times removed?!

If this sounds like you or you’d just like to increase your knowledge about DNA and genome sequencing, this article will give you enough of…

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