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Scientists identify likely origins of vertebrate air breathing

Screenshot of a video recorded in Michael Harris' lab shows the difference between gill ventilation and a 'cough' in a larval lamprey. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Alaska Fairbanks)

1000pa (Oct. 16, 2012) — University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists have identified what they think is the ancestral trait that allowed for the evolution of air breathing in vertebrates.

They will present their research at the 42nd annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience Oct. 17 in New Orleans.

"To breathe air with a lung you need more than a lung, you need neural circuitry that is sensitive to carbon dioxide," said Michael Harris, a UAF neuroscientist and lead researcher on a project investigating...

Genetic protection against arsenic

1000pa (Oct. 16, 2012) — Evolution has not only controlled human development over millions of years, it also has an impact on modern humans. This is one of the conclusions of a study of Argentinian villagers in the Andes, where the water contains high levels of arsenic. A gene variant that produces efficient and less toxic metabolism of arsenic in the body was much more common among the villagers than among other indigenous groups in South or Central America.

The study was a...

Early-Earth cells modeled to show how first life forms might have packaged RNA

Shown are RNA strands (blue) and RNA enzymes (red) coming together within droplets of dextran. Scientists at Penn State have shown that this compartmentalization helps to catalyze chemical reactions. (Credit: C. A. Strulson)

1000pa (Oct. 14, 2012) — Researchers at Penn State University have developed a chemical model that mimics a possible step in the formation of cellular life on Earth four-billion years ago. Using large "macromolecules" called polymers, the...

Fly genomes show natural selection and return to Africa

The Drosophila melanogaster fruit fly is returning to Africa and showing new insights into the forces that shape genetic variation. (Credit: By André Karwath aka Aka (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons)

1000pa (Oct. 11, 2012) — When ancestral humans walked out of Africa tens of thousands of years ago, Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies came along with them. Now the fruit flies, widely used for genetics research, are returning to Africa and...

Developmental biologist proposes new theory of early animal evolution that challenges basic assumption of evolution

Developing bodies go on to fold, elongate, and extend appendages, and in some species, generate endoskeletons with repeating elements (e.g., the human hand). (Credit: © koszivu / Fotolia)

1000pa (Oct. 11, 2012) — A New York Medical College developmental biologist whose life's work has supported the theory of evolution has developed a concept that dramatically alters one of its basic assumptions -- that survival is based on a change's functional advantage if it...

Marine worms reveal the deepest evolutionary patterns

Priapulid. (Credit: Bruno Vellutini, Sars Centre, Bergen Norway)

1000pa (Oct. 9, 2012) — Scientists from the universities of Bath and Lincoln have revealed new findings on the evolutionary relationships and structure of priapulids -- a group of carnivorous mud-dwelling worms living in shallow marine waters.

The research, carried out by evolutionary biologists Dr Matthew Wills, Dr Sylvain Gerber, Mr Martin Hughes (all University of Bath) and Dr Marcello Ruta...

Insects a prime driver in plant evolution and diversity

A caterpillar of the evening primrose moth (Schinia florida) devouring a flower bud of common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis). These moths exclusively feed on the flowers and fruits of evening primrose and in response to natural selection imposed by this and other specialist moths, evening primrose populations evolve to flower later and to produce high levels of toxic chemicals called ellagitannins in their fruits. This evolution effectively reduces damage of the plant’s...

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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...