Tiny sea creature’s genes shed light on evolution of immunity

When compatible Hydractinia symbiolongicarpus colonies recognize each other as “self,” via Alr genes, they fuse together. Credit: Huene, AL et al., PNAS, 2022 How a tiny marine invertebrate distinguishes its own cells from competitors’ bears striking similarities to the human immune system, according to a new study led by the University of Pittsburgh School of … Read more

Oldest vertebrate fossil heart ever found tells a 380 million-year-old story of evolution

The Gogo fish fossils used in this study were discovered within rocks found in the Kimberley. Credit: Curtin Universty In the limestone ranges of Western Australia’s Kimberley region, near the town of Fitzroy Crossing, you’ll find one of the world’s best-preserved ancient reef complexes. Here lie the remnants of myriad prehistoric marine animals, including placoderms, … Read more

The differences between experimental evolution and natural adaptation

Credit: CC0 Public Domain Humans have unwittingly been carrying out evolution experiments for millennia through the domestication of plants, animals, and fungi. Starting with the seminal experiments of William Dallinger in the late 19th century, such experiments have been performed under controlled laboratory conditions to better understand the processes and constraints of evolution. Evolutionary experiments … Read more

Changes in the tree canopy facilitated the evolution of the first-ever gliding reptile, new study suggests

Coelurosauravus elivensis Piveteau, 1926 (Madagascar, late? Permian), life reconstruction. Individuals clinging to Glossopteris trunk (Glossopteris leaves are associated with C. elivensis in the fossil assemblage) (Left), and gliding while grasping its wing (Right). The colors are based on the extant agamid Draco and chamaeleonid squamates. Credit: Charlène Letenneur have run through near-perfect fossils of the … Read more

Molecular atlas of an Australian dragon’s brain sheds new light on more than 300 million years of brain evolution

The Australian bearded dragon Pogona vitticeps. Credit: Max Planck Institute for Brain Research / G. Laurent These days, dragons are keeping “Game of Thrones” fans on their toes. But they are also providing important insights into vertebrate brain evolution, as revealed by the work of Max Planck scientists on the brain of the Australian bearded … Read more

The story of evolution written in phosphorus

Phosphatic shells in the uppermost Cambrian sandstone from Estonia. Credit: M. Mergl. Phosphorus is one of the elements that is crucial for the construction of organisms and their metabolism. Its cycle across the environments is also one of the best understood. However, it occurred to the Czech paleontologists Peter Kraft and Michal Mergl that there … Read more

New research on its origins offers insight into genetic evolution

Slime is everywhere. It shapes the consistency of your body fluids, from the saliva in your mouth to the goo that covers your organs. It protects you against pathogens, including coronavirus, while creating a home in your mouth for billions of friendly bacteria. It helps slugs have Spiderman sex hanging from walls, hagfish turn water … Read more

How the Ice Ages spurred the evolution of New Zealand’s weird and wiry native plants

Credit: Shutterstock/Sebastian Schuster Recent genetic research has shed new light on the long-running debate about the evolutionary origins of some of New Zealand’s quirkiest plants. More than one in ten native trees and shrubs have small leaves spaced far apart on wiry interlaced branches, often growing in a zig-zag pattern. Once the preserved of botanists, … Read more

60 million years of climate change drove the evolution and diversity of reptiles

Artistic reconstruction of the reptile adaptive radiation in a terrestrial ecosystem during the warmest period in Earth’s history. Image depicts a massive, big-headed, carnivorous erythrosuchid (close relative to crocodiles and dinosaurs) and a tiny gliding reptile at about 240 million years ago. The erythrosuchid is chasing the gliding reptile and it is propelling itself using … Read more

Zombie fungus-infected fly wins second BMC Ecology and Evolution image competition

CC BY 4.0” width=”800″ height=”530″/> The story of a conquest. The fruiting body of a parasitic fungus erupts from the body of its victim. Credit: Roberto García-Roa, CC BY 4.0 From parasitic mind control to feasting waxwings and bubble-breathing lizards, the second BMC Ecology and Evolution Image Competition has produced a spectacular collection of images … Read more