Category Archives: Evolution

Fossil teeth reveal how brains developed in utero over millions of years of human evolution – new research

Any hominid fossil find with molar teeth can be plugged into a new equation that reveals its species’ prenatal growth rate. Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty Images By Tesla Monson, Western Washington University Fossilized bones help tell the story of what human beings and our predecessors were doing hundreds of thousands of years ago. But how… Read More »

The evolutionary importance of slime

Susanne Wedlich writes: The weather in Morro Bay, California is too good, the coastline too picturesque, and the wildlife seem to have waltzed straight out of a Disney film. Sea otters play in the waves with their young, herons bask on the beach, and seals stretch their plump bellies in the sun. And yet amid… Read More »

Ancient proteins offer new clues about origin of life on Earth

Science Daily: By simulating early Earth conditions in the lab, researchers have found that without specific amino acids, ancient proteins would not have known how to evolve into everything alive on the planet today — including plants, animals, and humans. The findings, which detail how amino acids shaped the genetic code of ancient microorganisms, shed… Read More »

Imagination makes us human – this unique ability to envision what doesn’t exist has a long evolutionary history

Your brain can imagine things that haven’t happened or that don’t even exist. agsandrew/iStock via Getty Images Plus By Andrey Vyshedskiy, Boston University You can easily picture yourself riding a bicycle across the sky even though that’s not something that can actually happen. You can envision yourself doing something you’ve never done before – like… Read More »

Gene expression in neurons solves a brain evolution puzzle

Allison Whitten writes: The neocortex stands out as a stunning achievement of biological evolution. All mammals have this swath of tissue covering their brain, and the six layers of densely packed neurons within it handle the sophisticated computations and associations that produce cognitive prowess. Since no animals other than mammals have a neocortex, scientists have… Read More »

Humans are still evolving thanks to microgenes

The Scientist reports: Humans are still evolving new genes, according to a study published in Cell Reports on December 20. As our lineage evolved, at least 155 human genes sprung up from DNA regions previously thought of as “junk,” including two human-specific genes that emerged since humans branched off from chimpanzees around 4 to 6… Read More »

An ancient partnership has helped both plants and fungi thrive over much of Earth

Science reports: As a motley medley of mycologists climbed the basalt slopes of the Lanín volcano earlier this year, the green foliage at lower elevations gave way to autumnal golds and reds. Chile’s famed Araucaria—commonly called monkey puzzle trees—soon appeared, their spiny branches curving jauntily upward like so many cats’ tails. Beneath the majestic trees,… Read More »

Early humans may have cooked fish 780,000 years ago

Smithsonian magazine reports: Cooking with fire marked an important turning point in human evolution. But based on available evidence, determining exactly when early humans learned to cook is challenging. While researchers have discovered the remains of charred animals and root vegetables, that doesn’t necessarily mean people were grilling up steaks for dinner; they may have… Read More »

Parasite gives wolves what it takes to be pack leaders

Nature reports: Wolves infected with a common parasite are more likely than uninfected animals to lead a pack, according to an analysis of more than 200 North American wolves1. Infected animals are also more likely to leave their home packs and strike out on their own. The parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, makes its hosts bold —… Read More »