The exceptional early Jurassic fossils of Strawberry Bank, Somerset

The marine ecosystems of the Early Jurassic have been yielding their secrets since the days of Mary Anning (1799–1847) who excavated fossils from the Dorset coast. One might think there was little more to discover in the South of England, yet there is at least one exceptional fossil site, excavated in the 1840s, but essentially ignored since then: Strawberry Bank in Ilminster, Somerset.

The Nagara tradition of temple architecture: continuity, transformation, renewal

The Nagara tradition of temple architecture has been the predominant northern Indian tradition since its formative stages in the fourth and fifth centuries CE. A subtle architectural language was created, drawing on the imagery of earlier timber forms. The concept of a formal type was central, but the shrine types were not static and fixed. Temple architects developed increasingly complex designs through combinations of different types in composite arrangements, drawing forth new designs from old ones.

How do we become mimics?

Many of us will be familiar with the experience of inadvertently copying someone else’s accent. While such mimicry might get you mocked, as it has for David Miliband recently when he adopted Russell Brand’s cockney accent during the election campaign, it is, in fact, an important signal that we use to try to convey a sense of similarity between ourselves and others. We don’t only mimic accents, we mimic others’ body postures, mannerisms, and facial expressions, and we seem to do this unconsciously.

Adaptations for low drag, downforce and eddy use in hillstream loaches

High in the hills steep gradients lead to raging torrents in the streams. Hillstream loaches are a group of fishes specialised to cope with these violent high-speed flows. These fishes have evolved an array of adaptations to reduce drag and to stick to the bottom, equivalent to the downforce generating wings and skirts of F1 racing cars, and drag-reducing riblet skin-architecture of Mako sharks. However, the conditions hillstream loaches live in are more severe than either Mako sharks or F1 cars experience.

Assessing the potential of lunar geology as a window into galactic history

Our Solar System has orbited the Milky Way galaxy approximately twenty times since it formed 4.6 billion years ago, and during this time it will have been exposed to a wide range of galactic environments (Figure a).  Reconstructing this history would provide astronomically valuable information on the structure and evolution of this galaxy. In addition, because galactic events may influence life on Earth, knowledge of the galactic environment through time is of interest in assessing the past habitability of our own planet.

The role of cross-modal information in inter-performer musical communication

In contrast to what may perhaps be expected, musical communication is at the heart crossmodal, not unimodal. It is true that audition is central to typical musical experiences (e.g. listening over headphones), and musical sounds receive meaning in reference to each other (e.g. one tone forms the bass with respect to a higher melody tone). Nevertheless, when music is acoustically produced and when musicians perform together, music is as much a physical and visual activity as an auditory one.

The Oxford Children's Corpus: lessons for learning to read

The written word is arguably the greatest cultural invention. Orthography (the conventional writing system of a language) provides a set of tools that allows us to write words so that others who share our tools can also share our thoughts, ideas, and dreams. The written word allows us to create narratives that play to our imaginations or teach us about the world; transcending space and time, it is almost impossible to imagine the world without it.


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