Fish Brain Maps

New maps hint at how electric fish got their big brains

Washington University researchers have mapped the regions of the brain in mormyrid fish in extremely high detail. In a study published in the Nov. 15 issue of Current Biology, they report that the part of the brain called the cerebellum is bigger in members of this fish family compared to related fish — and this may be associated with their use of weak electric discharges to locate prey and to communicate with one another.

Replaying the tape of life: Is it possible?

A review published in the Nov. 9 issue of Science explores the complexity of evolution’s predictability in extraordinary detail. Jonathan Losos of Arts & Sciences takes on a classic question posed by Stephen Jay Gould in an effort to fully interrogate ideas about contingency’s role in evolution.

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.
Heather Essig leads a high school science experiment

Supporting evolution educators

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.

How repeatable is evolutionary history?

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.

Institute for School Partnership’s Darwin Day celebration to highlight evolution education

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.
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