Origin and evolution of life

  • The Life That Spawned A Quarter-Million Descendant Species
    The first cellular organisms with a nucleus, called protists, now comprise nearly a quarter-million named species. Including green algae and parasites, they make up the first link in the complex food chain that not only sustains all life on Earth, but modifies terrestrial weather.
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  • Studying Evolution with Digital Organisms
    Can we grasp the workings of Darwinian evolution by studying the behavior of digital organisms that exist only as strings of computer code? Scientists in Caltech's Digital Life Laboratory think so.
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  • Evolution's Sweet Tooth
    How did intelligence evolve? A scientist studying differences between humans and great apes may have found a biochemical step in that direction.
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  • Evolution’s Sweet Tooth
    How did intelligence evolve? A scientist studying differences between humans and great apes may have found a biochemical step in that direction.
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  • Encore
    Our debate panelists answer reader's questions about the possibility of complex life beyond Earth.
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  • Weird Life on the Mats
    Do extinct species represent failed evolutionary experiments? At least for some more closely related to today's crabs and lobsters, University of Southern California scientist David Bottjer says that if many such early animals look strange to us, it is not because they were strange.
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  • Cosmic Imperative for Life?
    Life began on Earth almost as soon as it was possible, almost as soon as the intense early bombardment by asteroids and comets tapered off and a stable environment emerged. Is this evidence for a chemical inevitability for spawning biology?
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  • Eukaryotic Origins: Revolution in the Classification of Life
    The most recent classification of all life on Earth includes three domains: Archaea, Bacteria (also called Eubacteria) and Eukarya, each of which contains a number of kingdoms.
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  • New Species and Understanding Earth
    Recognition of other worlds, of other ways of living, of being, of seeing, of thinking-that's regarded as a great moment in the history of our species, as great as leaving the oceans to come up on the land.
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  • Defining Life
    What is life, exactly? This is a question that keeps biologists up at night. The science of biology is the study of life, yet scientists can't agree on an absolute definition. What about a computer program that learns and evolves? Can a wild fire -
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