Evolutionary Biology

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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Study of Worms Reveals ‘Selfish Genes’ That Encode A Toxin – and Its Antidote

A UCLA study has found that a common strain of Caenorhabditis elegans — a type of roundworm frequently used in laboratory research on neural development — has a pair of genes that encode both a poison and its antidote. The new research also revealed that if worms with the two genes mate with wild strains of C. elegans that don’t have both genes,…

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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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Scythian Horse Breeding Unveiled: Lessons for Animal Domestication

Nomad Scythian herders roamed vast areas spanning the Central Asian steppes during the Iron Age, approximately from the 9th to the 1st century BCE (Before Common Era). These livestock pastoralists, who lived on wagons covered by tents, left their mark in the history of warfare for their exceptional equestrian skills. They were among the first to master mounted riding and…

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