Why Humans Don't Suffer From Chimpanzee Malaria: DNA Region Controlling Red Blood Cell Invasion Holds Genetic Key to Infection

By comparing the genomes of malaria parasites that affect chimpanzees and those that affect humans, researchers discovered that it is the difference in the parasites’ surface proteins that determine which host it will infect. Out of a genome of approximately 5,500 genes, researchers found that most genes have directly equivalent counterparts between the human and primate parasites. However, portions of…

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The Games Genes Play: Algorithm Helps Explain Sex in Evolution

What do you get when you mix theorists in computer science with evolutionary biologists? You get an algorithm to explain sex. It turns out that 155 years after Charles Darwin first published “On the Origin of Species,” vexing questions remain about key aspects of evolution, such as how sexual recombination and natural selection produced the teeming diversity of life that…

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From Contemporary Syntax to Human Language’s Deep Origins

On the island of Java, in Indonesia, the silvery gibbon, an endangered primate, lives in the rainforests. In a behavior that’s unusual for a primate, the silvery gibbon sings: It can vocalize long, complicated songs, using 14 different note types, that signal territory and send messages to potential mates and family. Far from being a mere curiosity, the silvery gibbon…

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Microbes May Drive Evolution of New Animal Species

A little over a year ago, Bordenstein, a biologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and his then-graduate student, Robert Brucker, mated two incompatible species of wasp in the lab, creating a hardy hybrid that lived when most others died. Normally, when members of two related species of parasitic wasps in the genus Nasonia, N. giraulti and N. longicornis, mate…

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