Origins

  • Solar-Powered Slugs
    The sea-slug, Elysia chlorotica, represents a unique step in the evolution of life. The slug appears to behave like a plant and can get energy from the sun. New research shows that the slug has genes needed for photosynthesis - but steals important cellular components
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  • Bacteria Preserve Fossils
    The activity of bacteria has often been viewed as detrimental to fossils. Now, researchers have found that bacterial biofilms may help preserve fossils of embryos and soft tissues. Such fossils are incredibly valuable in studying the evolution of life.
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  • Life at the Boundaries
    Scientists have found unique microbes living in environments where life was not known before. Both communities - beneath the Antarctic ice sheet and at the floor of the Mediterranean - could have an effect on the global carbon cycle.
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  • Life’s Boiling Point
    Some proteins can work above the boiling point of water, but these vital biomolecules may have a harder time evolving at high temperature. A new project is searching for the maximum temperature for protein-based life.
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  • Debating the Dinosaur Dance Floor
    Scientists are debating claims that potholes in a remote Arizona wilderness are dinosaur footprints. In a recently published study, the impressions were interpreted as footprints around an ancient Jurassic watering hole. Now scientists aren't sure of their true origins.
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  • Oldest Evidence for Complex Life in Doubt
    Biomarkers that were once thought to be the oldest evidence for complex life may not be as old as scientists once believed. The finding could change our understanding of the timescales in which life evolved on Earth.
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  • Life in a Lump of Ice
    Scientists studying the microscopic structure of super cold ice are revealing fascinating information about ice in space and its potential links to the origins of life.
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  • The Slow Rise of Dinosaurs
    Dinosaurs survived two mass extinctions and 50 million years before they dominated the Earth. The new finding sheds light on an important stage in the evolution of life on our planet.
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  • Seeing Life in Viruses
    From Astrobiology Magazine, European Edition is a story about research conducted by Kirsi Lehto of the University of Turku in Finland. Lehto studies plant viruses with an eye toward their role in the origin and evolution of life.
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  • Disease is as Old as Life
    Scientists have discovered that many genes related to disease are probably as old as the very first living cell. Other disease-related genes can be traced back to important moments in evolution, such as the origin of mammals.
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  • Magnetic Death Star
    Scientists have discovered microscopic, magnetic fossils unlike anything previously seen. The fossils were discovered in sediments along the Atlantic that were deposited during an ancient period of global-warming.
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  • Shifting to Life on Land
    Fossils from an organism known as the 'fishapod' are helping scientists understand how life moved out of the sea and began to walk on dry land. The study is providing new insights about this important step in the evolution of life on Earth.
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  • The Spark of Life
    A re-examination of samples from a classic 'origin-of-life' experiment indicates that volcanoes may have played an important role in life's beginnings on Earth. The study could also have implications in determining potential habitats for life beyond our planet.
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  • "Alien" Water Bears Amaze Scientists
    Tardigrades, commonly known as "water bears", have been reared under laboratory conditions and subjected to a barrage of tests. Their survivability shows that animals can survive extreme conditions, and also may indicate how humans could adapt to the rigors of space.
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  • How Deep is the Gene Pool?
    The latest issue of Astrobiology Magazine, European Edition features an interview with Anthony Poole, a molecular biologist at Stockholm University in Sweden. In this interview, Poole explains why horizontal gene transfer took time to develop, and what that means for our understanding of early
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