Origin and evolution of life

  • 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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  • Dune and Salt Hybrids
    Creating hybrids with cross-species breeding has long been used for corn production. But for most attempts, sterile offspring are generated. A new Indiana University study shows that for desert and salt-adapted sunflowers, rapid evolution can be induced from such cross-breeding experiments.
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  • World’s Smallest Power Station
    Turning light into power fuels the biosphere, in a cycle that begins with the lowest part of the foodchain, the microbes. Three international teams have put together a plan to understand genetically how all that light gets harvested.
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  • Life from the Heavens?
    The scientific community has been impressed with the robustness of environments that can support life, ranging from Antarctic lakes to salt mines to nuclear reactors. But conventional wisdom has presumed that life traveling to Earth on a fiery meteor--if possible--would meet a quick sterilizing death.
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  • Gene Menagerie
    A pioneering study comparing the genes of 13 species has uncovered clues to how the vertebrate family tree might have evolved. One intriguing result is that primates, including humans, are closer to rodents than carnivores or cows and pigs.
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  • Spying on Biodiversity
    Monitoring of species which may have natural habitats in remote areas is no easy task. Using internet cameras, a group of Alaska biologists can keep warm, while watching the great outdoors.
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  • Synchronizing Molecular Clocks
    The frequency of changes in a species' genetic code acts like a kind of molecular clock, which can trace the branches of a family tree back to the original root. Evolutionary biologists are using molecular clocks to time how fast a species may be changing,
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  • Shining Light on Life’s Origin
    When ultraviolet radiation was more intense than today, and the early Earth had a mix of nitrogen-rich molecules, how did this primordial soup get cooked? And how did it not burn? Scientists are asking the question: How did the fittest biomolecules survive, before life itself
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  • The Pull of the Recent
    While the count of species has gone from a few to over thirty million, it has long been wondered whether this apparent diversity involves fossil biases: more modern fossils survive to be classified.
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  • Army Ants: No Evolutionary Picnic
    NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab has explored the possibilities of using an ant colony metaphor for space exploration. Recent Cornell scientists have shown that the dispersal success of army ants seems to far exceed evolutionary expectations.
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  • Primordial Recipe: Spark and Stir
    No single experiment, according to Carl Sagan, has done to convince scientists that life is 'likely abundant in cosmos' than work fifty years ago by then graduate student, Stanley Miller. This week celebrates his milestone publication, and Astrobiology Magazine interviewed him about his work and
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  • Big Red Boosts Biodiversity
    As hard as it might be to surprise those who have collected and classified the estimated 30 million species on Earth, deep sea divers off the coast of California have added a new species to the planetary tally.
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  • Water: The Molecule of Life
    Philip Ball, author of "Life's Matrix: A Biography of Water," says that liquid water is essential for the kind of delicate chemistry that makes life possible. In an interview with Astrobiology Magazine, he discusses his thoughts on the role of liquid water for life on
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