Christie Wilcox

Contributing Writer

Photo of Rafflesia arnoldii growing on vines in Indonesian forest.
genomics

DNA of Giant ‘Corpse Flower’ Parasite Surprises Biologists

April 21, 2021

The bizarre genome of the world’s most mysterious flowering plants shows how far parasites will go in stealing, deleting and duplicating DNA.

Abstractions blog

The Mystery of Mistletoe’s Missing Genes

December 21, 2020

Mistletoes have all but shut down the powerhouses of their cells. Scientists are still trying to understand the plants’ unorthodox survival strategy.

Illustration of a blue tiger.
Abstractions blog

How Neutral Theory Altered Ideas About Biodiversity

December 8, 2020

The simple insight that most changes are random had a profound effect on genetics, evolution and ecology.

Electron micrograph showing a viral factory and new viral particles inside a cell.
evolution

Did Viruses Create the Nucleus? The Answer May Be Near.

November 25, 2020

An unorthodox symbiotic theory about the origin of eukaryotes’ defining characteristic may soon be put to the test.

Photo of one of the Russian sturgeon-paddlefish hybrids called sturddlefish.
Abstractions blog

Extra DNA May Make Unlikely Hybrid Fish Possible

August 5, 2020

The unintentional creation of “sturddlefish” hybrids may illuminate the genomic mechanisms that govern whether species can interbreed.

The skeletons of a man and woman, showing the difference in their heights.
Abstractions blog

Males Are the Taller Sex. Estrogen, Not Fights for Mates, May Be Why.

June 8, 2020

To explain why men are on average taller than women, scientists theorized about competition for mates. But the effects of estrogen on bone growth may be answer enough.

Video of two slipper-shaped paramecia engaged in a sexual process called conjugation.
evolution

Why Sex? Biologists Find New Explanations.

April 23, 2020

Why did sex evolve? Theories usually focus on the diversity of future generations, but some researchers find compelling explanations in the immediate benefits to individuals.

Scanning electron micrograph of a cluster of coccolithophores.
ecology

How Jurassic Plankton Stole Control of the Ocean’s Chemistry

October 1, 2019

Only 170 million years ago, new plankton evolved. Their demand for carbon and calcium permanently transformed the seas as homes for life.

Abstractions blog

Can New Species Evolve From Cancers? Maybe. Here’s How.

August 19, 2019

Researchers agree it’s a long shot, but transmissible cancers could theoretically evolve into independent species. Certain weird parasites might be living proof.

About the author

Christie Wilcox is an award-winning science writer whose prose has appeared in Quanta, Scientific American, Discover Magazine, Science News and National Geographic, among other publications. She wrote her highly acclaimed debut book Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2016) while earning her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. You can find her on Twitter as @NerdyChristie or more of her work at christiewilcox.com.