Natural selection acts on behavioral traits, says evolutionary biologist Jonathan Losos, who helped lead a replicated field experiment with anole lizards on eight small islands in the Caribbean, as reported in the June 1 issue of Science
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.
Evolution educators continue to face resistance from parents, lawmakers and school boards. And a recent Pew Research Center survey on science and society shows that one-third of the population denies evolution. The Institute of School Partnership, through Darwin Day and other programs, help K-12 teachers bring this core concept to their classrooms.
Cats and humans have shared the same households for at least 9,000 years, but we still know very little about how our feline friends became domesticated. An analysis of the cat genome by School of Medicine researchers reveals some surprising clues. Pictured is a blue Abyssinian cat.
Figuring out how to survive on a lean-season diet of hard-to-reach ants, slugs and other bugs may have spurred the development of bigger brains and higher-level cognitive functions in the ancestors of humans and other primates, suggests research from Washington University in St. Louis.
Some clover species have two forms, one of which releases cyanide to discourage nibbling by snails and insects and the other of which does not. A scientist at Washington University in St. Louis found that this “polymorphism” has evolved independently in six different species of clover, each time by the wholesale deletion of a gene. The clover species are in a sense predisposed to develop this trait, suggesting that evolution is not entirely free form but instead bumps up against constraints.
WUSTL’s Institute for School Partnership is committed to evolution education as part of a sound K-12 science curriculum, and it kicks off its second annual Darwin Day celebration Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7 and 8, with workshops for teachers and students. Darwin Day is celebrated internationally on or around Feb. 12, Darwin’s birthday, as a celebration of science and humanity. Highlighting the weekend on the WUSTL campus: a visit from alum Sean B. Carroll, PhD, vice president for science education at Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Friendly microbes in the intestinal tracts of healthy American children have numerous antibiotic resistance genes, according to results of a pilot study by scientists at the School of Medicine. The genes are cause for concern because they can be shared with harmful microbes, interfering with the effectiveness of antibiotics in ways that can contribute to serious illness and, in some cases, death. Pictured is the study’s senior author, Gautum Dantas, PhD.
New research provides one of the most detailed and comprehensive analyses yet of the genetic diversity of endangered great apes living in the wild, revealing new clues to the evolution of apes and humans.
Scientists have decoded the genome of the western painted turtle, one of the most abundant turtles on Earth, finding clues to their longevity and ability to survive without oxygen during long winters spent hibernating in ice-covered ponds.