Origin and evolution of life

  • Bee Quorum?
    When 10,000 honeybees fly the coop to hunt for a new home, usually a tree cavity, they have a unique method of deciding which site is right: With great efficiency they narrow down the options and minimize bad decisions.
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  • Filling the Terrestrial Gap
    The recent discovery above the Arctic Circle of remarkably well preserved fossils from a new species of ancient fish provides a key marker in the evolutionary transition of fish to limbed animals.
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  • Genetic TKO
    How many genes does life need? By removing or ‘knocking out´ genes in bacteria, scientists hope to determine the minimal number of genes that are essential for survival. But according to a new study in the journal Nature, this knock out approach is
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  • Whalesong Syntax
    The songs of the humpback whale are among the most complex in the animal kingdom. Researchers have now mathematically confirmed that whales have their own syntax that uses sound units to build phrases that can be combined to form songs that last for hours.
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  • Deconstructing Life
    How does chemistry become biology? Solving this question is important for research into life´s origins, and also for the search for life elsewhere in the universe. In this interview, Dimitar Sasselov, describes a new comprehensive study that will try to figure out how
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  • Same Story, Often Told
    Life on Earth has been shaped by random events unique to the history of our planet, so it may be unlikely we´ll ever find similar life forms elsewhere. But paleontologist Geerat Vermeij says that many traits are so advantageous that they will appear again
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  • Love that Baby Fat
    Forget the textbook story about tool use and language sparking the dramatic evolutionary growth of the human brain. Instead, imagine ancient hominid children chasing frogs. Not for fun, but for food.
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  • Electric ESP
    Sharks are known for their almost uncanny ability to detect electrical signals while hunting and navigating. Now researchers have traced the origin of those electrosensory powers to the same type of embryonic cells that gives rise to many head and facial features in humans.
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  • Clay Breath
    According to a new study, clay made animal life possible on Earth. A sudden increase in oxygen in the Earth's recent geological history, widely considered necessary for the expansion of animal life, occurred just as the rate of clay formation on the Earth's surface also
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  • Bone Crystal’s Treasure
    Scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science recently discovered a new source of well-preserved ancient DNA in fossil bones. Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
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  • Fossils in 3-D
    UCLA paleobiologist J. William Schopf and colleagues have produced 3-D images of ancient fossils - 650 million to 850 million years old - preserved in rocks, an achievement that has never been done before.
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  • Chimps and Humans on Similar Clock Time
    Scientists have found genetic evidence that seems to support a controversial hypothesis that humans and chimpanzees may be more closely related to each other than chimps are to the other two species of great apes. They also found that humans evolved at a slower rate
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  • Bigger is Only Better in the Cold
    Biologists have long believed that bigger is better when it comes to body size, since many lineages of animals, from horses to dinosaurs, have evolved into larger species over time.
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  • Bee-ing Social
    One of the puzzling questions in the evolution of bees is how some species developed social behaviors. Arizona State University Life Sciences associate professor Gro Amdam thinks part of the answer can be traced back to bee reproductive traits.
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  • Evolution of Movement Design is Deterministic
    A single unifying physics theory can essentially describe how animals of every ilk, from flying insects to fish, get around, researchers at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering and Pennsylvania State University have found. The team reports that all animals bear the same stamp of
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