Evolutionary Biology

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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Chimpanzees Spontaneously Initiate and Maintain Cooperative Behavior

Without any pre-training or restrictions in partner choice among chimpanzees, researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, found for the first time that chimpanzees housed in a socially complex, contained setting spontaneously cooperate with multiple partners of their choosing. This finding, which addresses long-standing doubt about the level of cooperation chimpanzees are able to spontaneously achieve or…

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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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Intertwined Evolution of Human Brain and Brawn

The cognitive differences between humans and our closest living cousins, the chimpanzees, are staggeringly obvious. Although we share strong superficial physical similarities, we have been able to use our incredible mental abilities to construct civilizations and manipulate our environment to our will, allowing us to take over our planet and walk on the moon while the chimps grub around in…

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Dogs Follow Human Voice Direction to Find Hidden Food

Dogs and puppies are gifted at interpreting human communicative hints, and previous studies showed that they use human visual cues like pointing or gazing in order to find hidden food. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have now studied for the first time whether dogs can locate hidden food by relying on auditory information…

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Janet Buckner Awarded Fulbright Fellowship

Janet Buckner, a graduate student in UCLA Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, has been awarded a Fulbright fellowship for her research on primate phylogenetics in the Brazilian Amazon, for May through November 2015.  Janet’s Ph.D. is co-advised by Michael Alfaro (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Institute for Society and Genetics), David Jacobs (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), and Jessica Lynch Alfaro (Institute for Society and Genetics,…

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