Biology articlesLiving longer thanks to the longevity gene
A variation in the gene FOXO3A has a positive effect on the life expectancy of humans, and is found much more often in people living to 100 and beyond - moreover, this appears to be true worldwide.
The nonsense in our genes
1 in 200 of our human genes can be inactivated with no detectable effect on our health. A study by Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute scientists raises new questions about the effects of gene loss on our wellbeing and evolution.
Despite their diversity, pygmies of Western Central Africa share recent common ancestors
Despite the great cultural, physical, and genetic diversity found amongst the numerous West Central African human populations that are collectively designated as "Pygmies," a report published online on February 5th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, finds that they diverged from a single ancestral population just about 2,800 years ago.
Black wolves: the first genetically modified predators?
Emergence of black-colored wolves is the direct result of humans raising dogs as pets and beasts of burden, according to new research by a University of Calgary biologist published by the prestigious academic journal Science. And dark coloring may also aid the survival of the species as wolf habitat is affected by climate change in the future, the study suggests.
Mathematical models reveal how organisms transcend the sum of their genes
Molecular and cellular biologists have made tremendous scientific advances by dissecting apart the functions of individual genes, proteins, and pathways. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering are looking to expand that understanding by putting the pieces back together, mathematically.
Researchers observe evolution chain reaction
A team of researchers are reporting the ongoing emergence of a new species of fruit fly--and the sequential development of a new species of wasp--in the February 6 issue of the journal Science.
Why don't more animals change their sex
Most animals, like humans, have separate sexes - they are born, live out their lives and reproduce as one sex or the other. However, some animals live as one sex in part of their lifetime and then switch to the other sex, a phenomenon called sequential hermaphroditism. What remains a puzzle, according to Yale scientists, is why the phenomenon is so rare, since their analysis shows the biological "costs" of changing sexes rarely outweigh the advantages.
Involuntary maybe, but certainly not random
Our eyes are in constant motion. Even when we attempt to stare straight at a stationary target, our eyes jump and jiggle imperceptibly. Although these unconscious flicks, also known as microsaccades, had long been considered mere "motor noise," researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that they are instead actively controlled by the same brain region that instructs our eyes to scan the lines in a newspaper or follow a moving object.
High-tech tests allow anthropologists to track ancient hominids across the landscape
Dazzling new scientific techniques are allowing archaeologists to track the movements and menus of extinct hominids through the seasons and years as they ate their way across the African landscape, helping to illuminate the evolution of human diets.
UF study: rapid burst of flowering plants set stage for other species
A new University of Florida study based on DNA analysis from living flowering plants shows that the ancestors of most modern trees diversified extremely rapidly 90 million years ago, ultimately leading to the formation of forests that supported similar evolutionary bursts in animals and other plants.
Scientists explore new window on the origins of life
The remarkable behaviour of bacteria that have been forced to live without their protective wall has allowed Newcastle University scientists to open a new window on the origins of life on earth.
Mama whales teach babies where to eat
University of Utah biologists discovered that young "right whales" learn from their mothers where to eat, raising concern about their ability to find new places to feed if Earth's changing climate disrupts their traditional dining areas.
Animals successfully relearn smell of kin after hibernation
Animals can re-establish their use of smell to detect siblings, even following an interruption such as prolonged hibernation, research at the University of Chicago on ground squirrels shows.
MIT research could help predict red tide
Not far beneath the ocean's surface, tiny phytoplankton swimming upward in a daily commute toward morning light sometimes encounter the watery equivalent of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone: a sharp variation in marine currents that traps billions of these single-celled organisms and sends them tumbling until a shift in wind or tide alters the currents and sets them free.
A dead gene comes back to life in humans
Researchers have discovered that a long-defunct gene was resurrected during the course of human evolution. This is believed to be the first evidence of a doomed gene - infection-fighting human IRGM - making a comeback in the human/great ape lineage. The study, led by Evan Eichler's genome science laboratory at the University of Washington and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, is published March 6 in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics.
Wind shifts may stir CO2 from antarctic depths
Natural releases of carbon dioxide from the Southern Ocean due to shifting wind patterns could have amplified global warming at the end of the last ice age--and could be repeated as manmade warming proceeds, a new paper in the journal Science suggests.
Caltech scientists discover mechanism for wind detection in fruit flies
Tiny, lightweight fruit flies need to know when it's windy out so they can steady themselves and avoid being knocked off their feet or blown off course. But how do they figure out that it's time to hunker down? According to a team led by California Institute of Technology (Caltech) scientists reporting in the journal Nature, the flies have evolved a specialized population of neurons in their antennae that let them know not only when the wind is blowing, but also the direction from which it is coming.
Chimp's stone throwing at zoo visitors was 'premeditated'
Researchers have found what they say is some of the first unambiguous evidence that an animal other than humans can make spontaneous plans for future events. The report in the March 9th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, highlights a decade of observations in a zoo of a male chimpanzee calmly collecting stones and fashioning concrete discs that he would later use to hurl at zoo visitors.
Optimum running speed is stride toward understanding human body form
Runners, listen up: If your body is telling you that your pace feels a little too fast or a little too slow, it may be right.
American carnivores evolved to avoid each other
How do the many carnivorous animals of the Americas avoid competing for the same lunch, or becoming each other's meal? Two researchers at UC Davis think they have an answer. Their large-scale analysis shows that it's not just chance that's at play, but the avoidance strategies themselves that have been a driving force in the evolution of many carnivores, influencing such factors as whether species are active daytime or nighttime, whether they inhabit forests or grasslands, or live in the trees or on the ground.