Tagged: evolution

Fossil tooth fractures and microscopic detail of enamel offer new clues about human diet and evolution - Hot off the press

Guest Author Jul 27, 2021

Ian Towle; Carolina Loch, and Thomas Loho, University of Auckland   Teeth can tell us a lot about the evolution of prehistoric humans, and our latest study of one of our species’ close relatives may finally resolve a long-standing mystery. The genus Paranthropus is closely related to ours, Homo, and lived about one to three … Read More

Land of the chonky birds: How and why did New Zealand have so many feathered giants? - Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives

Nic Rawlence May 31, 2021

The eastern moa is stuck fast in the swamp, its thick legs having punched through the peat into the liquid blue clay beneath. Death is inevitable, whether from starvation or from above. Unable to move, the moa can only eat what it can reach around it, if anything. The forests that covered this area during warmer times are … Read More

SARS-CoV-2 – a natural event or a lab escape? - Ariadne

Robert Hickson May 16, 2021

In books and movies it is often a good plot point for a disease (or monster) to escape, accidentally or with assistance, from a government lab. There are also real cases of pathogens getting out of labs (but quickly being controlled). That’s also a discussion going on now about Covid-19. Natural evolution or human agency? Spillover or … Read More

How snake fangs evolved to perfectly fit their food - Hot off the press

Guest Author May 14, 2021

Silke Cleuren, Monash University; Alistair Evans, Monash University, and David Hocking, Monash University   Few structures in nature inspire more fear and fascination than the fangs of venomous snakes. These needle-like teeth are used by snakes to pierce their prey and inject deadly venom. With more than 3000 species of snake inhabiting our world, we wondered: are all their fangs … Read More

The virus that stole Christmas - Ariadne

Robert Hickson Dec 20, 2020

Mutant and virus are two words that rarely go well together. Reports from the UK that a  variant of SARS-CoV-2 has emerged (called lineage B.1.1.7), and may be more readily transmissible, aren’t what we want to hear just before Christmas, or any time. However, it isn’t necessarily a nightmare scenario. Coronaviruses have relatively low levels of mutation, … Read More

Book Review: The Power of Chance in Shaping Life and Evolution - Scibooks

Guest Author Dec 15, 2020

Dan Falk Prince Hamlet spent a lot of time pondering the nature of chance and probability in William Shakespeare’s tragedy. In the famous “To be or not to be” speech, he notes that we helplessly face “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” — though a little earlier in the play he declares that “there’s a special providence … Read More

Mammoth bones – and … potatoes??? - BioBlog

Alison Campbell Dec 11, 2020

Today I came across an interesting share in a science group that I follow – an article about a “huge 25,000-yr-old hut” made of mammoth bones. Having really enjoyed Jean Auel’s “Earth’s Children” series, of course, I was going to read on. But alas, the article was disappointing: the headline image didn’t match the story; the apparent construction … Read More

Ancient sponges or just algae? New research overturns chemical evidence for the earliest animals - Hot off the press

Guest Author Dec 01, 2020

Lennart van Maldegem, Australian National University; Benjamin Nettersheim, Max Planck Institute; Christian Hallmann, Max Planck Institute; Ilya Bobrovskiy, California Institute of Technology, and Jochen Brocks, Australian National University Sponges are the simplest of animals, and they may stand at the root of all complex animal life on Earth, including us humans. Scientists study the evolution of the earliest sponges, hundreds … Read More

Will the Coronavirus Evolve to Be Less Deadly? - COVID-19

Guest Author Nov 14, 2020

Wendy Orent No lethal pandemic lasts forever. The 1918 flu, for example, crisscrossed the globe and claimed tens of millions of lives, yet by 1920, the virus that caused it had become significantly less deadly, causing only ordinary seasonal flu. Some pandemics have lasted longer, like the Black Death, which swept out of Central Asia in 1346, spread across Europe, … Read More

A fishy story: midas cichlids in nicaraguan lakes - BioBlog

Alison Campbell Jun 11, 2020

Midas cichlids (Amphilophus spp.) are a popular aquarium fish, but in the wild they’re found in South America, ranging from Nicaragua to Costa Rica. The 2018 Schol Bio paper included a really interesting question about a Nicaraguan ‘species complex‘ of these fish, based on a paper in Nature Communications. and a monograph in Cuadernos de Investigacion … Read More