Origins

  • 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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  • Encore
    Our debate panelists answer reader's questions about the possibility of complex life beyond Earth.
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  • Bacteria: Survival in Siberia
    While Mars experts have gathered evidence of ice on Mars for some time, results in May from the Odyssey spacecraft showed large amounts of subsurface ice. The concept of suspended animation supports the plots of dozens of science fiction books and movies.
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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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  • Prospecting for Viruses
    Under scalding, acidic conditions, how do life processes function? Because of their simplicity relative to cellular life forms, the 3500 described viruses may offer scientists the best opportunity to glean information about survival in extreme environments.
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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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  • Antarctic Microbes Colonize under Mars-like Conditions
    More than 20 years ago, scientists first discovered that algae, fungi and bacteria could grow inside porous sandstone and surface pavement in the Antarctic Dry Valleys.
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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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  • Defining Life
    What is life, exactly? This is a question that keeps biologists up at night. The science of biology is the study of life, yet scientists can't agree on an absolute definition. What about a computer program that learns and evolves? Can a wild fire -
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  • High-pressure Living
    Most researchers have concluded that only some exotic forms of life might survive at 30 miles below ground or 100 miles beneath the ocean. But a recent study published in Science magazine highlights what might be a large and subterranean biomass, even for common surface
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  • Salt of the Early Earth
    Scientists have long assumed that life originated in the sea. If life did spring from salt water, that could explain why all organisms use salt. But Paul Knauth, an astrobiologist with Arizona State University, says while we always assume that life came from the ocean,
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  • The Driest Place on Earth
    How much water does life need to survive? Chile's Atacama desert hold some interesting clues - clues that may help researchers in the hunt for life on Mars.
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  • The Cambrian Explosion: Tooth and Claw
    Scientists ponder the causes of the Cambrian explosion.
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  • A Pothole in the Road of Life
    Desert potholes may provide clues to the evolution of life on Earth.
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