Origin and evolution of life

  • 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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  • Dinner with Darwin
    "Which 5 historical figures would you invite to dinner, and how would you seat them?" In mock interview format, today's feature in this "Dinner With..." series, excerpts answers from Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, as an initial historical 'guest' to sit down and discuss how
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  • Redundant Evolution
    Gene duplication in plants has led to new species, but scientist haven't known why and when such "carbon copies" of genes come to exist. A University of Georgia study published in the journal Nature tries to uncover why this divergence happens.
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  • Beaming a Lifeform Musically
    This week's celebrations for the fiftieth anniversary of the DNA double-helix highlights the rapid advances in genetic sequencing. These breakthroughs have allowed comparisons previously unavailable to those scientists who try to understand how such a complicated structure as DNA might have evolved.
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  • Life’s Working Definition
    Finding life elsewhere in the universe depends on knowing when you see it, according to Colorado professor Carol Cleland. She gives a view of how life might not need a working definition as much as a theory of life -- at least until scientists
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  • Lord of Gondwanaland
    In an ancient time, what happens when a common water-hole brings together the most clever species on our planet with its apex predator? Welcome to the ancient supercontinent of Gondwanaland, where the largest vertebrate carnivore--the gorgon--battles its smartest foe yet--the cynodont.
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  • Walking Before Flying?
    The history of the lowly insect known as the 'walking stick' offers a fascinating genetic study of evolution moving backwards and forwards, in what is commonly called Dollo's Law. A team of BYU biostatisticians discusses the challenge of finding out which came first: walking or
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  • Weird Life on the Mats
    The fossil record is full of animals with bizarre body shapes. Do these extinct species represent failed evolutionary experiments, or were they simply well-adapted to an environment that no longer exists?
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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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