evolution

Brain Size Matters When it Comes to Animal Self-Control

Chimpanzees may throw tantrums like toddlers, but their total brain size suggests they have more self-control than, say, a gerbil or fox squirrel, according to a new study of 36 species of mammals and birds ranging from orangutans to zebra finches. Scientists at Duke University, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Yale and more than two-dozen other research institutions collaborated on this first…

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World Ranking Tracks Birds’ Evolutionary Distinctness

A team of international scientists, including a trio from Simon Fraser University, has published the world’s first ranking of evolutionary distinct birds under threat of extinction. These include a cave-dwelling bird that is so oily it can be used as a lamp and a bird that has claws on its wings and a stomach like a cow. The research, published today in Current Biology,…

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Hummingbird Evolution Is Booming

Hummingbirds took just 22 million years to diversify from a single common ancestor into 338 tiny, colorful species. And they have not finished yet. Evolutionary biologist Jim McGuire of the University of California, Berkeley, and his collaborators have found that although some hummingbird groups have saturated the available space in their environments, others are still developing into new species at…

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How Evolution Shapes the Geometries of Life

Why does a mouse’s heart beat about the same number of times in its lifetime as an elephant’s, although the mouse lives about a year, while an elephant sees 70 winters come and go? Why do small plants and animals mature faster than large ones? Why has nature chosen such radically different forms as the loose-limbed beauty of a flowering…

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