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Charles Darwin

Subtle differences can lead to major changes in parasites

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1000pa (Mar. 23, 2012) — Researchers have found the subtle genetic differences that make one parasite far more virulent than its close relative. They looked at the evolution of these parasites and found that although their genome architecture still remains similar, the two split from their common ancestor 28 million years ago, approximately four times longer than the human-gorilla split.

Toxoplasma is arguably the most successful parasite. It can spread to any cell type in any warm blooded vertebrate species. It can cause blindness and spontaneous abortion. Alternatively, the Neospora parasite can infect far fewer hosts. It is a veterinary pathogen and causes a high number of abortions in cattle, costing the UK farming...

Runner's high motivated the evolution of exercise, research suggests

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1000pa (Mar. 22, 2012) — In the last century something unexpected happened: humans became sedentary. We traded in our active lifestyles for a more immobile existence. But these were not the conditions under which we evolved. David Raichlen from the University of Arizona, USA, explains that our hunter-gatherer predecessors were long-distance endurance athletes. 'Aerobic activity has played a role in the evolution of lots of different systems in the human body, which may explain why...

Evolutionary surprise: Developmental 'scaffold' for vertebrate brain found in brainless marine worm

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1000pa (Mar. 14, 2012) — The origin of the exquisitely complex vertebrate brain is somewhat mysterious. "In terms of evolution, it basically pops up out of nowhere. You don't see anything anatomically like it in other animals," says Ariel Pani, an investigator at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole and a graduate student at the University of Chicago.

But recently in the journal Nature, Pani and colleagues report finding some of the genetic processes that...

The Darwin-Wallace mystery solved: Darwin vindicated from accusations of deceit

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1000pa (Mar. 8, 2012) — A National University of Singapore. study has traced historical shipping records and vindicated Darwin from accusations of deceit.

For the past four decades, Charles Darwin had been accused of keeping the essay of fellow naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace for a fortnight, thereby enabling him to revise elements of his theory of evolution, before jointly announcing the theory of evolution by natural selection in July 1858. Just recently, two researchers from...

Theory of the 'rotting' Y chromosome dealt a fatal blow

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1000pa (Feb. 22, 2012) — If you were to discover that a fundamental component of human biology has survived virtually intact for the past 25 million years, you'd be quite confident in saying that it is here to stay.

Such is the case for a team of Whitehead Institute scientists, whose latest research on the evolution of the human Y chromosome confirms that the Y -- despite arguments to the contrary -- has a long, healthy future ahead of it.

Proponents of the so-called...

Origin of photosynthesis revealed: Genome analysis of 'living fossil' sheds light on the evolution of plants

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1000pa (Feb. 21, 2012) — Atmospheric oxygen really took off on our planet about 2.4 billion years ago during the Great Oxygenation Event. At this key juncture of our planet's evolution, species had either to learn to cope with this poison that was produced by photosynthesizing cyanobacteria or they went extinct. It now seems strange to think that the gas that sustains much of modern life had such a distasteful beginning.

So how and when did the ability to produce oxygen by...

Studying the evolution of life's building blocks

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1000pa (Feb. 20, 2012) — Studying the origin of life at its building blocks offers a unique perspective on evolution, says a researcher at Michigan State University.

Robert Root-Bernstein, MSU physiology professor, will answer the question of why a physiologist studies the origin of life at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Feb. 16-20 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Paleontologists study ancient life and reason that each species...

Quest for sugars involved in origin of life

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1000pa (Feb. 16, 2012) — Team from University of the Basque Country manage to isolate a sugar -- a ribose -- in gas phase and to characterise a number of its structures.

Sugars give rise to enormous biochemical interest given the importance and diversity of the functions they carry out: they act as an energy storage system and serve as fuel for a number of biological systems; they form part of DNA and of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and, moreover, play a key role in cell processes...

Explosive evolution need not follow mass extinctions, study of ancient zooplankton finds

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1000pa (Feb. 13, 2012) — In the wake of a mass extinction like the one that occurred 445 million years ago, a common assumption is that surviving species tend to proliferate quickly into new forms, having outlived many of their competitors.

But new research shows that tiny marine organisms called graptoloids did not begin to rapidly develop new physical traits until about 2 million years after competing species became extinct.

The discovery challenges the idea that...

More than just packaging, the genome affects the way our genes change and develop, researcher says

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1000pa (Feb. 13, 2012) — Since Charles Darwin first put forth the theory of evolution, scientists have been trying to unlock the mysteries of genetics. But research on the genome -- the organism's entire hereditary package encoded in DNA and RNA -- has been less extensive. There is a tendency to think of the genome as a static and passive container of information, says Dr. Ehud Lamm of Tel Aviv University's Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas.

In...

Ancient DNA holds clues to climate change adaptation

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1000pa (Jan. 31, 2012) — Thirty-thousand-year-old bison bones discovered in permafrost at a Canadian goldmine are helping scientists unravel the mystery about how animals adapt to rapid environmental change.

The bones play a key role in a world-first study, led by University of Adelaide researchers, which analyses special genetic modifications that turn genes on and off, without altering the DNA sequence itself. These 'epigenetic' changes can occur rapidly between generations --...

Winged dinosaur Archaeopteryx dressed for flight

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1000pa (Jan. 24, 2012) — Since its discovery 150 years ago, scientists have puzzled over whether the winged dinosaur Archaeopteryx represents the missing link in birds' evolution to powered flight. Much of the debate has focused on the iconic creature's wings and the mystery of whether -- and how well -- it could fly.

Some secrets have been revealed by an international team of researchers led by Brown University. Through a novel analytic...

1000pa (Jan. 24, 2012) — Since its discovery 150...

Scientists discover new clue to chemical origins of life

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1000pa (Jan. 24, 2012) — Organic chemists at the University of York have made a significant advance towards establishing the origin of the carbohydrates (sugars) that form the building blocks of life.

A team led by Dr Paul Clarke in the Department of Chemistry at York has re-created a process which could have occurred in the prebiotic world.

Working with colleagues at the University of Nottingham, they have made the first step towards...

1000pa (Jan. 24, 2012) — Organic chemists at the...

Avalanche of reactions at the origin of life

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1000pa (Jan. 19, 2012) — The origin of life is seen as the formation of the first biomolecules capable of multiplication and further development. Until now it was unclear which reactions may have triggered the evolution of this primitive metabolism. Scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) have now revealed mechanisms by which a few biomolecules may bring forth new products in a kind of avalanche to initiate a self-expanding metabolism.


Volcanic-hydrothermal...

Biologists replicate key evolutionary step

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1000pa (Jan. 17, 2012) — More than 500 million years ago, single-celled organisms on Earth's surface began forming multicellular clusters that ultimately became plants and animals. Just how that happened is a question that has eluded evolutionary biologists.

But scientists in the University of Minnesota's College of Biological Sciences have replicated that key step in the laboratory using natural selection and common brewer's yeast, which...

1000pa (Jan. 17, 2012) — More than 500 million...

Breakthrough model reveals evolution of ancient nervous systems through seashell colors

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1000pa (Jan. 12, 2012) — Determining the evolution of pigmentation patterns on mollusk seashells -- which could aid in the understanding of ancient nervous systems -- has proved to be a challenging feat for researchers. Now, however, through mathematical equations and simulations, University of Pittsburgh and University of California, Berkeley, researchers have used 19 different species of the predatory sea snail Conus to generate a model...

1000pa (Jan. 12, 2012) — Determining the...

Genetic study of black chickens shed light on mechanisms causing rapid evolution in domestic animals

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1000pa (Dec. 22, 2011) — The genetic changes underlying the evolution of new species are still poorly understood. Genetic studies in domestic animals can shed light on this process due to the rapid evolution they have undergone over the last 10,000 years. A new study describes how a complex genomic rearrangement causes a fascinating phenotype in chickens.

In the study published in PLoS Genetics researchers at Uppsala University, Swedish...

1000pa (Dec. 22, 2011) — The genetic changes...

'Head-first' diversity shown to drive vertebrate evolution

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1000pa (Dec. 21, 2011) — he history of evolution is periodically marked by explosions in biodiversity, as groups of species try out a wide range of shapes and sizes. With a new analysis of two such adaptive radiations in the fossil record, researchers have discovered that these diversifications proceeded head-first.

By analyzing the physical features of fossil fish that diversified around the time of two separate extinction events,...

1000pa (Dec. 21, 2011) — he history of evolution is...

Close family ties keep microbial cheaters in check, study finds

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1000pa (Dec. 16, 2011) — Any multicellular animal, from a blue whale to a human being, poses a special challenge for evolution.

Most of the cells in its body will die without reproducing; only a privileged few will pass their genes to the next generation.

How could the extreme degree of cooperation required by multicellular existence actually evolve? Why aren't all creatures unicellular individualists determined to pass on their own genes?

Joa...

1000pa (Dec. 16, 2011) — Any...

Close family ties keep cheaters in check: Why almost all multicellular organisms begin life as a single cell

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1000pa (Dec. 15, 2011) — Any multicellular animal, from a blue whale to a human being, poses a special difficulty for the theory of evolution. Most of the cells in its body will die without reproducing, and only a privileged few will pass their genes to the next generation.

How could the extreme degree of cooperation multicellular existence requires ever evolve? Why aren't all creatures unicellular individualists determined to pass on their...

1000pa (Dec. 15, 2011) — Any multicellular...

Shape, fit of reproductive organs evolve quickly and in concert, leaving size behind

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1000pa (Dec. 15, 2011) — Believed critical for determining which individuals can -- or cannot -- successfully reproduce with each other, genitalia not only figure prominently in the origin of new species, but are also typically the first type of trait to change as new species form.

Today, new international research led by Indiana University shows that as populations and species diversify, the exact shape and fit of genitalia steals the show...

1000pa (Dec. 15, 2011) — Believed critical...

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Book review

Dinosaurs Encyclopedia

Book Review

Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages ... WRITTEN BY A PROFESSIONAL paleontologist specifically for young readers, this guide to the Dinosauria is packed...