Origin and evolution of life

  • Life Born Left-Handed
    Key biomolecules such as amino acids and sugars have a property called chirality--they favor a direction of light rotation and carry the name as left- or right-handed. Puzzling through how all building blocks became left-handed from an initially random mixture has become one of
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  • Earliest Bilateral Fossil Discovered
    Scientists have reported that bilateral animals appeared 600 million years ago, about 50 million years before the Cambrian Explosion.
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  • When Did Bacteria Appear?
    The Earth's earliest organisms survived on sulfur and carbon, but what happened after the first billion years when the Earth's temperature reached such high temperatures that photosynthesis can be thwarted. Was this the tipping point when microbial life took over for plant life, when bacteria
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  • Walking Under Water
    The Darwinian picture of the first fish venturing out of a muddy pond to become a lizard, has always had a certain simplistic appeal, but recent findings suggest this transitional puzzle has new fossil evidence.
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  • Alien Biodiversity
    A new species has been added to the rolls of 28,000 vertebrates known to exist on Earth. Discovering a new variety in one of the most thoroughly studied marine regions raises questions about how one might close the book on the sterility of another planet,
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  • Antarctic Lost Worlds: Tale of Two Dinosaurs
    Finding dinosaurs in Antarctica is both easier and harder than finding them on another continent. Easier, because like looking for meteorites, dinosaur bones show up against the stark landscape. Harder, because the dinosaur's cold-bloodedness wouldn't have lasted long prior to continental drift and climate changes.
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  • Evolving Artificial DNA?
    To mimic the natural evolution that mutate and recombine living organisms, an artificial chemical system now can duplicate itself with six instead of the natural four building blocks.
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  • One Order of Snake Legs, Please
    Did snakes evolve on land or sea? If related to lizards, what happened to their legs? These evolutionary questions were looked at by Penn State biologists who compared the genetic family trees for the marine and land hypotheses.
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  • Death Valley Holds Key to Life?
    Bake a cake too long and the sugars decompose to a brown tar. Bake the sugary proteins that may have acted as precursors for life's building blocks and the Earth needs some protective agent to help along biology's course.
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  • Birds and the Bees
    The progress of genetic mutation has been thought to move a species slowly towards more adapted forms. A recent plant experiment on the common monkeyflower however suggests that alternations between whether birds or bees might best pollinate future generations has led to new evolutionary proposals.
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  • Life’s Recipe Card
    A defect-free, artificial virus has been created from knowing its published genetic code and stitching together a chemical synthesis. The project is part of a three-year effort to synthesize 'life from scratch', although in this case the real breakthrough may have been that from start
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  • Worms in the Mist
    The wriggling tracks of worm-like creatures can be found in rocks dating back nearly 600 million years ago. Such 'trace' fossils are fairly common in Cambrian rocks, but similar markings also have been found in much older rocks that formed long before multi-cellular mobile animals
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  • Preemies from the Precambrian
    Scientists are using a miniaturized version of the medical CT scanner to look for clues to evolution in the fossilized embryos of some of Earth's earliest animals.
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  • Clays Aided First Life?
    Did clays serve as catalysts to bring the first simple molecules into a template for life? More complex biomolecules may have formed spontaneously from a coating of fatty acids, that eventually built into the first living cells, according to researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical
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  • Biology’s Theme Park: RNA World
    When a laboratory recipe for life starts to look daunting, scientists have retreated to a test-tube for what they term 're-evolving evolution'. Their model is one of the template molecules for life, the counterpart to DNA itself, called RNA, which replicates a pattern for cell
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