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    Farming in the DNA

    Archaeology shows that farming spread across Europe from the Middle East. For Europeans, farming started in the Fertile Crescent in the Levant, Turkey and Iraq around 8-9,000 BC. It spread into SE Europe around 6,500 BC and across the continent over the next couple of thousand years. It’s possible to track farming moving, because settlements […] More

  • Image: Piccolo Namek/Wikimedia Commons.

    New plants for a dimmer future?

    As anyone who merely glances at the titles of scientific articles will tell you, when ‘new species’ and ‘China’ are seen together it is usually a tale of ‘yet another’ extinct missing-link fossil from that amazing country (e.g. Pascal Godefroit et al.). Well, this time I’m pleased to report new plant taxa from China that […] More

  • Image: Wolfgang Sauber/Wikimedia Commons.

    Nicotine: an ancient addiction?

    It must be terribly depressing if you don’t have plants in your life to give you purpose and a reason to get up in the morning, put digit to keyboard, or whatever. Still, for those who are intellectually botanically bereft, there is always one plant-derived stimulant or another to fill the void. And most of […] More

  • Slash and Burn in Brazil

    Does rain forest grow back? Archaeology might have the answer

    Most international archaeological work in South America has concentrated on the Andes for various reasons. It’s more accessible, the ruins are more visible, there’s a better ethnohistorical record from the conquistadors, there’s variety over short distances because change in height makes vertical economies possible where different foods grow at different heights and they’re just the […] More

  • Buttercups. Photo (cc) Marilyn Peddle.

    How old is my meadow?

    I was a bit fed up after hearing the UK government announce further cutbacks to the science budget today, so I thought I’d delve into the recent Free Access issue of Annals of Botany from Sept 2009 to see what’s been released. Obviously the rest of this post will be a shameless plug for a […] More