evolution

Prelude to Global Extinction: Stanford Biologists Say Disappearance of Species Tells Only Part of the Story of Human Impact on Earth’s Animals

No bells tolled when the last Catarina pupfish on Earth died. Newspapers didn’t carry the story when the Christmas Island pipistrelle vanished forever. Two vertebrate species go extinct every year on average, but few people notice, perhaps because the rate seems relatively slow – not a clear and present threat to the natural systems we depend on. This view overlooks…

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First Big Efforts to Sequence Ancient African DNA Reveal How Early Humans Swept Across the Continent

The study of ancient human DNA has not been an equal opportunity endeavor. Early Europeans and Asians have had portions of their genomes sequenced by the hundreds over the past decade, rewriting Eurasian history in the process. But because genetic material decays rapidly in warm, moist climates, scientists had sequenced the DNA of just one ancient African. Until now. This week,…

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Long-Term Sexual Intimidation May Be Widespread in Primate Societies

After observing the mating habits of chacma baboons living in the wild over a four-year period, researchers have found that males of the species often use long-term sexual intimidation to control their mates. The findings suggest that this mating strategy has a long history in primates, including humans, and may be widespread across social mammals — especially when males of…

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Scientists 3-D Print Mouse Ovaries That Actually Make Babies

Not all girls grow up to be mothers. Sometimes they choose not to be, and sometimes circumstances take those choices away. A superfluity of cancers and genetic diseases can destroy women’s ovaries. Or treatments like radiation—used to save a woman’s life—can render those egg-producing organs useless. Ovaries also mediate female hormones. Without them, young patients might never go through puberty;…

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In Brain Evolution, Size Matters – Most of the Time

Which came first, overall bigger brains or larger brain regions that control specialized behaviors? Neuroscientists have debated this question for decades, but a new Cornell study settles the score. The study reports that though vertebrate brains differ in size, composition and abilities, evolution of overall brain size accounts for most of these differences, with larger brains leading to greater capabilities.…

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