Evolution

Why wild animals genetically changed into domesticated forms has long been a mystery, covered by the blanket artificial selection reasoning.

A new paper in Science says that many genes controlling the development of the brain and the nervous system were particularly important for rabbit domestication. 


Although separated by hundreds of millions of years of evolution, flies, worms, and humans share ancient patterns of gene expression and it's all in our genomic data.

Three related studies in Nature, tell a similar story: even though humans, worms, and flies bear little obvious similarity to each other, evolution used remarkably similar molecular toolkits to shape them.

There are dramatic differences between species in genomic regions populated by pseudogenes, molecular fossils of working genes, according to Yale authors in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Organisms in a symbiotic relationship will often shed genes as they come to rely on the other organism for crucial functions but researchers have uncovered an unusual event in which a bacterium that lives in a type of cicada split into two species - doubling the number of organisms required for the symbiosis to survive.


If you capture a hummingbird on high-speed video and slow it down, their wings thrum like helicopter blades as they hover near food. Their hearts beat 20 times a second and their tongues dart 17 times a second to slurp from a feeding station.


Humans don't want to live above the West Antarctic ice sheet but microbes can certainly live below it, according to a new study. Even half a mile below it.

The waters and sediments of a lake 2,600 feet beneath the surface of the West Antarctic ice sheet support "viable microbial ecosystems", according to recent results. Given that more than 400 subglacial lakes and numerous rivers and streams are thought to exist beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, such ecosystems may be widespread and may influence the chemical and biological composition of the Southern Ocean, the vast and biologically productive sea that encircles the continent.



The small body size associated with the African pygmy phenotype is probably a selective adaptation for rainforest hunter-gatherers, according to a new study, but since all African pygmy phenotypes do not have the same genetic underpinning it is likely a more recent adaptation than previously thought, according to a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.

 A phenotype is the outward expression of genetic makeup and while two individuals with the same phenotype may look alike, their genes may differ substantially. The pygmy phenotype exists in many parts of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Philippines and perhaps South America and is usually associated with rainforest hunter-gathers rather than people who farm.


Descent with modification means that all life on Earth probably came from one common ancestor – a single-celled organism – We just have to speculate and create models for what it may have looked like, how it lived and how it evolved into today's modern cell.

So model we do and a recent paper uses mathematical modeling to speculate that life's Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) had a 'leaky' membrane, which, if would, would help scientists answer two of biology's biggest questions:

1. Why all cells use the same bizarre, complex mechanism to harvest energy

2. Why two types of single-celled organism that form the deepest branch on the tree of life – bacteria and archaea – have completely different cell membranes


Rangeomorphs were unlike any modern organism, which has made it difficult to determine how they fed, grew or reproduced, and therefore difficult to link them to any particular modern group.

They looked like plants but evidence points to the fact that rangeomorphs were actually some of the earliest animals.

Starting 541 million years ago, the conditions in the oceans changed quickly with the start of the Cambrian Explosion – a period of rapid evolution when most major animal groups first emerge in the fossil record and competition for nutrients increased dramatically.




Researchers working on biomimicry have produced the first structural color change in an animal by influencing evolution: They've changed the color of the butterfly Bicyclus anynana from brown to violet - and needed only six generations of selection to do it.

Little is known about how structural colors in nature evolved, although researchers have studied such mechanisms extensively in recent years. Most attempts at biomimicry involve finding a desirable outcome in nature and simply trying to copy it in the laboratory.

The discovery published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences may have implications for physicists and engineers trying to use evolutionary principles in the design of new materials and devices.