biology

How teeth became tusks, and tusks became liabilities

“The persistence of elephant poaching has prompted researchers to wonder whether elephants really needed their tusks, and whether they might not be better off if the tuskless trait were to spread more widely through the African population.  Shane Campbell-Staton, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his colleagues have begun systematically…

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Flower Or Flesh? Genetics Explain Mosquito Preference

Imagine a world in which mosquitoes choose blossoms over blood. Nice, right? There already exists a mosquito species called Wyeomyia smithii in which most of the bugs refuse blood meals in favor of sweet floral nectar. And new research is helping to explain the evolutionary genetics of the switch from blood sucker to flower fanatic. The researchers, including co-lead author David Denlinger of The Ohio State…

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DNA Reveals That Silky Anteaters Are Seven Species

The silky anteater (Cyclopes didactylus) has previously been recognized to be a single species divided into several sub-species. But a new genetic analysis, published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, suggests that this enigmatic mammal is not one species, but seven separate ones. Lead author Dr. Flávia Miranda, a researcher with the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil, and…

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Google Has Released an AI Tool That Makes Sense of Your Genome

Almost 15 years after scientists first sequenced the human genome, making sense of the enormous amount of data that encodes human life remains a formidable challenge. But it is also precisely the sort of problem that machine learning excels at. On Monday, Google released a tool called DeepVariant that uses the latest AI techniques to build a more accurate picture of a…

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Chimp Females Who Leave Home Postpone Parenthood

Wild chimpanzee females in western Tanzania who leave home or are orphaned take roughly three years longer to start a family. The researchers analyzed more than 50 years’ worth of daily records for 36 female chimps born in Gombe National Park. Stored in the Jane Goodall Institute Research Center at Duke University, the records are part of a larger database containing close…

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Twin Study Finds Genetics Affects Where Children Look, Shaping Mental Development

A new study co-led by Indiana University that tracked the eye movement of twins finds that genetics plays a strong role in how people attend to their environment. Conducted in collaboration with researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, the study offers a new angle on the emergence of differences between individuals and the integration of genetic and environmental factors in social,…

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