Which came first: big brains or demanding environments?
Researchers in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis are challenging the notion that environment drives the evolution of brain size. A new study was released Sept. 25 in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.
Co-hosted by Elizabeth Haswell, associate professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, Taproot is a new podcast that takes listeners behind the the curtain to reveal what it was really like to do the work so opaquely described in journal articles.
Neurogenetics for all
Sophisticated techniques for testing hypotheses about the brain by activating and silencing genes are currently available for only a handful of model organisms. Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis are working on a simplified toolkit that will allow scientists who study animal behavior to manipulate the genomes of many other animals with the hope of accelerating progress in our understanding of the brain.
The other total eclipse
New Horizons team members just pulled off “eclipse” observations of a body at the far outer reaches of the solar system, showing August eclipse tourists how it’s done.
Glass is weirder than you think
Changes in a liquid as it becomes a glass are related to repulsion between its atoms as they are crowded together. Although scientists have long believed the poorly understood glass transition must have atomic underpinnings, this is the first time they have been demonstrated experimentally.
Keep your distance
Why does biodiversity grade from exuberance at the equator through moderation at mid-latitudes toward monotony at higher ones? Data from an international network of long-term forest dynamics research sites is finally providing an answer.
Fat makes cells fat
Just as people endlessly calculate how to upsize or downsize, bacteria continually adjust their volume (their stuff) to fit inside their membrane (their space). But what limits their expansion? The answer will surprise you.
Legumes are fancy
Most organisms share the biosynthetic pathways for making crucial nutrients because it is is dangerous to tinker with them. But now a collaborative team of scientists has caught plants in the process of altering where and how cells make an essential amino acid.
A spillway on Mars?
NASA’s senior Mars rover, Opportunity, is examining rocks at the edge of Endeavour Crater for signs that they may have been either transported by a flood or eroded in place by wind.
Birds that babysit
It’s easy to make up a story to explain an evolved trait; proving that’s what happened is much harder. Here scientists test ideas about cooperative breeding in birds and find a solution that resolves earlier disagreements.
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