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The birds' beauty belies their often menacing and destructive nature 

Naked truths at an orgy of recrimination

Atomised by Michel Houellebecq, trans Frank Wynne (Heinemann, £12.99, 379pp)

Hot Spot: Shrewsbury, Shropshire

A natural selection

Chink discovered in armour of the common cold

SCIENTISTS HAVE discovered a vital chink in the armour of the common cold virus that they say could one day lead to a cure for the infection.

Mystery of mutant toadflax solved at last

A BOTANICAL mystery that nearly inspired a theory of evolution more than a century before Charles Darwin came up with the idea has been solved by biologists.

Books: The dog days of Darwinism

Almost Like a Whale by Steve Jones Doubleday pounds 20

Books: Back on the Beagle

Almost Like a Whale: The Origin of Species updated by Steve Jones Doubleday, pounds 20, 402pp; Can a science writer now - however good - add to a timeless classic?

Letter: God and Darwin

Sir: Why is it that so many pro-God scientists are physicists and those against are often biologists?

He was the original Action Man. He packed a gun and explored the world. And he opened a can of worms when he suggested man was descended from the apes. 140 years on he's still a publishing super star. And now the greatest brains in science want (that's Charles Darwin, stupid) recognised as the Man of the Millennium

He rode with the toughest gauchos of the Argentine pampas, learnt to bring flightless birds down with swinging bolas, slept rough for weeks on end, and enthusiastically scaled the highest peaks of the Andes. But although Charles Darwin was an action man, a swashbuckling adventurer who packed a pistol in his waistcoat and a cosh up his sleeve, he was also a towering intellect whose theory of evolution is shaping up as the Idea of the Millennium.

Striped rabbit found in Laos

BIOLOGISTS HAVE identified an unknown species of striped rabbit with a red rump in the mountain forests of Laos and Vietnam, an area that has already seen the discovery of a range of previously unrecorded mammals in recent years.

Serendipity: Nature's error- correction

CHANCE meetings between researchers from different backgrounds, one of them unwittingly holding the missing piece of the other's jigsaw, can result in significant discoveries. Just such a meeting occurred in a bar at Bradford University, between Dr Simon Shepherd and Professor Terry Baker.

Genetic Notes: Embarrassment of the neo-Darwinists

FIFTY YEARS before Charles Darwin's seminal Origin of Species the French biologist Jean Baptiste de Lamarck published his view on how animals evolved. A core idea, uniformly accepted by his peers, was that organisms adapting to a changing environment altered their bodily and behavioural characteristics and passed these acquired characteristics to their progeny. This is Lamarckian inheritance and is probably one of the most emotive issues in contemporary science (apart from the metaphysical issue of whether an all- powerful "God" exists).

Science: The memory of molecules

Can molecules communicate with each other, exchanging information without being in physical contact? French biologist Jacques Benveniste believes so, but his scientific peers are still sceptical.
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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee