Origin and evolution of life

    • 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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    • Ripples in Time
      Until the last fifteen percent of the Earth's age, the continents were barren, lifeless wastelands. Life had yet to hit the shore. But a kind of molecular clock says the hands of time may have started ticking many billions of years earlier.
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    • Stitching Together Green Genes
      How did photosynthesis arise? Astrobiologists at Arizona State University report in Science that five bacteria share enough commonality to create the current diversity of photosynthesizing chemistries but differ in how they got them.
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    • Life from Scratch?
      As pioneers of the Human Genome Project announced their next target- life created de novo, or from a minimal genetic recipe- the debate heats up about what 'minimal' actually might mean when their prospective life forms start to take shape.
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    • Protein Archaeologists
      New methods for time-stamping ancient fossil bones hold promise of understanding Earth's genetic past.
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    • The Tree of Life: Cold Start?
      For decades, scientists have used a comprehensive tree of life showing heat-loving bacteria as the Earth's earliest bacteria. Now, a more accurate reanalysis of the data place those bacteria up among the leaves.
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    • 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.
      more...
    • 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.
      more...
    • 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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