Latest Robert M. Pringle Stories

2010-05-26 09:25:00

The majestic animals most closely associated with the African savanna "“ fierce lions, massive elephants, towering giraffes "“ may be relatively minor players when it comes to shaping the ecosystem. The real king of the savanna appears to be the termite, say ecologists who have found that this humble creature contributes mightily to a grassland in central Kenya. Robert M. Pringle, a research fellow at Harvard University, and colleagues show that termite mounds greatly enhance...

2008-01-28 16:05:00

It is like the premise of a popular home improvement show: in the before photos, the surroundings are undesirable and in the after shot there's lots of attractive spaces to grab a meal, start a family and relax in seclusion from life's stresses. The difference here is that the potential new homeowner is a lizard and the renovations come -- not from a sophisticated Manhattan designer -- but instead from a herd of elephants. An examination of the connections between elephants and lizards...

Word of the Day
  • A terrible or repulsive person.
Regarding the etymology of 'humgruffin,' the OED says (rather unhelpfully) that it's a 'made-up word.' We might guess that 'hum' comes from 'humbug' or possibly 'hum' meaning 'a disagreeable smell,' while 'gruffin' could be a combination of 'gruff' and 'griffin.'