Evolution



28 October 2013

Snakes on a brain: slithery reptiles leave lingering imprint on primate genes


Neuroscientists have shown that specific nerve cells in the brains of captive monkeys - who had never seen snakes previously - respond strongly to images of snakes. The finding appears to confirm another scientist's theory that the evolution of sharp vision in our ancestors was driven by the threat of snakes...

23 September 2013

Walk this way: how an upright gait made humans musical


Why don't chimpanzees, our closest primate cousins, have musical ability? Scientists in Sweden hypothesize that our musicality developed only after we had begun to walk upright...

12 September 2013

Mechanical gears seen in nature for the first time


Gear mechanisms, previously thought to only exist in man-made machines, have also evolved in nature, according to scientists who say they have made the first observation of mechanical gearing in a biological structure...

2 September 2013

How generosity leads to evolutionary success


New insights into the classical game theory match-up known as the "Prisoner's Dilemma" help explain the presence of generosity in nature, an inclination that can sometimes seem counter to the Darwinian notion of survival of the fittest...

23 April 2013

Baits failing as cockroaches adapt to dislike sugar


Sugar is losing its attraction for roaches and making baits less effective, say scientists who have been investigating the genetic adaptations that are causing cockroaches to reject glucose and any baits made with it...

28 April 2013

Computer scientists mull origins of evolvability


Over time, organisms appear to become increasingly capable of evolving in response to changes in the environment, but computer boffins say the traditional explanation - competition to survive in nature - may not actually be necessary for evolvability to increase...

25 April 2013

Evolution making women taller, thinner


As well as living longer and having fewer children, women are becoming taller and slimmer, but researchers aren't sure why selection has shifted from shorter and stouter women to taller and thinner ones...

9 April 2013

Rapid evolution tied to environmental change


Environmental change can drive hard-wired evolutionary changes in animal species in a matter of generations, report ecologists from Umeň University and the University of Leeds. The new findings, which overturn the common assumption that evolution occurs slowly, could shed light in areas such as the management of fisheries, where human actions can result in major changes to an entire population's environment...

18 March 2013

Natural selection reducing road kill


Urban environments can be evolutionary hotspots, suggests a study that explored why road kill surveys have shown a sharp decline in bird mortality over the last 30 years...

29 January 2013

Simulation reveals evolutionary origins of modularity


Robotics researchers say they now understand why humans, bacteria and other organisms evolved in a modular fashion, a finding they believe will lead to a deeper understanding of the evolution of complexity...

13 November 2012

Human intellectual abilities in decline, claims geneticist


A provocative new analysis of genetic mutation in the context of Darwinian selection indicates that humans are losing intellectual and emotional capabilities because unbeneficial mutations are not being selected against in our modern society...

27 October 2012

"It's not you, it's me," means it's probably you, say ovulation boffins


Long after women have chosen Mr. Reliable over Mr. Sexy, they struggle unconsciously with the decision, with the highest levels of dissatisfaction occurring during ovulation...

29 June 2012

Iconic sexual selection study "fatally flawed"


A classic study from more than 60 years ago suggesting that males are more promiscuous and females more choosy in selecting mates has informed and influenced evolutionary biology for decades, but a modern day repeat of the experiment indicates the original work may have been wrong...

19 June 2012

Pop music created using natural selection and crowdsourcing


Software that uses Darwinian natural selection and the musical tastes of web users is well on the way to creating the perfect pop tune, according to evolutionary scientists in the UK...

13 April 2012

Worrying and intelligence evolutionarily inseparable


Anxiety and excessive worry, traits that are usually viewed in a negative light, appear to have co-evolved with the attribute that is viewed as most adaptive - human intelligence...

5 April 2012

Black Queen Hypothesis offers new interpretations of organism interdependency


A new theory based on the same premise as the card game "Hearts" turns traditional evolutionary thinking on its head by positing that some living organisms evolve and survive by discarding genes rather than adding them...

31 January 2012

Size matters: evolutionary changes in body size measured


For the first time, scientists have measured how quickly large-scale evolutionary changes in body size occur. Intriguingly, while it takes 24 million generations for a mouse-sized animal to evolve to the size of an elephant, shrinkage is a much more rapid process...

23 November 2011

Scientists mull advantage of tasting words and hearing colors


Carried by a surprisingly large 4 percent of the population, scientists have been pondering why the synesthesia gene is preserved in the human race and what evolutionary advantage it might provide...

18 November 2011

Brain uniquely primed for nakedness


The uniquely human part of the brain that allows us to recognize faces in microseconds is even more sensitive at recognizing another aspect of human bodies - whether they are clothed or naked...

23 August 2011

Lasting evolutionary change "slow and rare"


Addressing the long-running debate about short-term vs. long-term evolutionary change, a new study suggests that the changes that stick tend to take a long time, with one million years being the magic number...

8 November 2010

Religious ritual drives natural selection


A centuries-old religious ceremony carried out in a southern Mexican cave has led to evolutionary changes in a species of fish that dwell in the cave...

8 July 2010

Cougar sex drive an evolutionary adaptation


As a woman's fertility begins to wane, the brain ramps up the libido in what researchers call "reproduction expediting," an adaptive response that makes women more willing to engage in one-night stands and adventurous sexual behavior in an effort capitalize on their remaining childbearing years...

18 February 2010

Revealed: new player in natural selection


The unexpected discovery of a new type of genetic variation suggests that natural selection - the force that drives evolution - is both more powerful and more complex than scientists had previously thought...

5 February 2010

Samoan study reveals possible evolutionary role for homosexuality


Male homosexuality doesn't make complete sense from an evolutionary point of view but a new study suggests that it may convey an indirect benefit by enhancing the survival prospects of close relatives. The study hypothesizes that homosexual men enhance their own genetic prospects by acting altruistically toward their nieces and nephews, thereby perpetuating some of their genes indirectly through the family line...

12 January 2010

Evolution to blame for modern-day health problems?


The ongoing pressures of human evolution could explain the rise of disorders such as autism, autoimmune diseases and reproductive disorders, say scientists who believe that evolutionary perspectives should be part of medical school curricula...

4 November 2009

New insights into the evolution of human complexity


A fascinating new study of thousands of genes and the proteins they encode shows that human beings are biologically complex, at least in part, because of the way humans evolved to cope with redundancies arising from duplicate genes...

2 November 2009

Beetles reveal ecological speciation in action


Tiny leaf beetles that flit among the maple and willow trees in Vermont are providing scientists with some of the clearest evidence yet that environmental factors play a major role in the formation of new species...

19 October 2009

Fish vision evolution observed at molecular level


Researchers have identified the first fish known to have switched from ultraviolet vision to violet vision (the ability to see blue light). The discovery links molecular evolution to functional changes in the organism and the environmental factors that drive those changes...

8 October 2009

Unnatural selection: Courtesy of The Pill


Hormonal contraceptive methods may be having an underappreciated impact on a woman's ability to choose, compete for and retain her preferred mate...

25 August 2009

The evolutionary benefits of crying


Crying is known to be a symptom of pain or stress, but an evolutionary biologist believes that tears are also an evolution-based mechanism to bring people closer together and make interpersonal relationships stronger...

17 July 2009

Male chromosome facing extinction


The male sex chromosome, the Y chromosome, is evolving at a much more rapid pace than the X chromosome, and researchers say that it is losing genes at a rate that eventually could lead to the Y chromosome's complete disappearance...

10 July 2009

Ugly males more fertile


Attractive males release fewer sperm per mating to increase the odds of producing offspring across a range of females, suggesting that matings with attractive males may be less fruitful than those with unattractive ones...

13 January 2009

Humans reshaping other species at lightning speed


Human activities such as fishing and hunting are having astonishingly broad and swift impacts on the body size and reproductive abilities of fish and other commercially harvested species, potentially jeopardizing the ability of entire populations to recover, according to a new study...

9 December 2008

Credit card maxed out? Blame your sex drive


Foreclosures, credit card debt, bank bailouts - all symptoms of compulsive overspending, which a University of Michigan researcher believes can be explained by evolution and men's need to procreate...

3 December 2008

The "perfect" body not always perfect


The hormones that make women physically stronger, more competitive and better able to deal with stress also tend to redistribute fat from the hips to the waist, which means that having an imperfect body may come with substantial benefits for some women...

12 November 2008

Adaptive proteins "control" their own evolution


A previously hidden mechanism that guides the way biological organisms respond to the forces of natural selection has been observed making the proteins found in most living organisms behave like adaptive machines, subtly directing aspects of their own evolution to create order out of randomness...

27 August 2008

Honey, We Shrunk The Cod


New research has added further weight to the controversial idea that overfishing by humans is driving rapid evolutionary change in fish, making them smaller and less fecund while driving commercially valuable species like cod to the brink of economic extinction...

26 August 2008

Size Of Genitalia Dependent On Need To Fight


Researchers examining male horned beetles from four geographically separated populations say the groups have diverged significantly in the size of the male genitalia, and natural selection operating on the other end of the animal - the fighting horns atop the beetles' heads - seems to be driving it much more quickly than expected...

20 August 2008

Melanoma Not Without Benefits


In male swordtail fish, black melanoma splotches help lure females, suggesting that the usually deadly melanoma gene is conserved for its beneficial role in sexual selection...

18 June 2008

Male Homosexuality Placed In Darwinian Context


Italian researchers say that male homosexuality in humans can be explained by a model based on sexually antagonistic selection; where genetic factors spread in the population by giving a reproductive advantage to one sex while disadvantaging the other...

18 March 2008

1st Rule Of Evolution: Strive For Complexity


UK scientists have revealed what may well be the first "rule" of evolution - a pervasive drive to become increasingly more complex...

11 December 2007

Modern Man In Evolutionary Fast Lane


Driven by exponential population growth and cultural shifts, the past 40,000 years have been a time of supercharged evolutionary change for humans...

30 November 2007

Skin Deep


While the bad old days of an overt "whites only" policy could be dismissed as consciously constructed segregation, more recent types of racism seem to be "unconscious," below-the-surface manifestations. But do these cases of unconscious racism suggest that racism is a product of evolution?

5 November 2007

Evolutionary Risk Distribution Law Identified


When do cells retain specific gene sequences, and when do they allow evolution to experiment with them? New research indicates that a sort of "risk distribution law" is in effect...

5 October 2007

Fish Hatcheries Cause Stunning Loss Of Reproductive Fitness


Trout raised in hatcheries suffer a dramatic and unexpectedly fast drop in their ability to reproduce in the wild...

28 August 2007

Shifting Evolution Up A Gear


New research suggests that "moving the goalposts" may be one method of speeding-up evolutionary change...

13 July 2007

Evolution And The Hive Mind


Would it be too far fetched to suggest that social pressures could affect brain function at a genetic level? One study has identified collective behavioral differences between the United States and China, possibly suggesting the beginning of brain divergence among humans...

27 June 2007

Did Trichromatic Vision Evolve Because of Colorful Bottoms Or Colorful Fruit?


Ohio University researchers believe they have shown that trichromatic color vision (the ability to discriminate red from green) was present in some primates long before it became a method of sexual communication...

13 June 2007

Researchers Ponder Primordial Broth


Scientists contemplating the primordial brew that all life sprang from are getting closer to understanding how simple chemicals, which have no self-interest, can become "biological" and driven to evolve by natural selection...

1 June 2007

The Personal Face Of Evolution


Research suggesting that animals - from primates to mollusks - have personalities means that scientists are now asking intriguing questions regarding the evolutionary significance of personalities, and the advantages and disadvantages that different types of personality can confer...

25 May 2007

Turbocharged Evolution


Instead of waiting for nature's sluggish hit-and-miss process of producing a viable adaptation or mutation, researchers have shown that it may be possible to engineer evolutionary processes in a fraction of the time. Specifically, recent research on synthetic proteins indicates that there may be no limits or time constraints on human evolution - should we so choose...

19 April 2007

Mites Re-Evolve Sexual Reproduction


After millions of years of asexual reproduction, a family of mites has taken the unusual step of resuming sexual reproduction...

20 March 2007

Sex Optional For Evolutionary Adaptation


Micro-organisms that gave up on sex 40 million years ago have nevertheless managed to evolve into distinct species; challenging the assumption that sex is necessary for organisms to diversify...

16 March 2007

Chill Out To Evolve


Species don't evolve faster in warmer climes as had been thought; rather, it is cooler regions that crank-up speciation rates...

16 February 2007

Is Evolutionary Development Like Flat-Pack Furniture?


Could horizontal gene transfer that occurred in the distant past account for the incredible development of the human brain, and the subsequent human-chimp split? If so, what piece of vital genetic information did we acquire that gave us our cognitive edge?

12 February 2007

Prof Questions Darwinian Dogma


Cell biology seems to run contrary to the model that most people have in their heads, says a Darwinian detractor...

30 January 2007

Horizontal Gene Transfer Accelerating Evolution


Sexual selection and random genetic mutations are slowpokes in the evolution stakes, say scientists who are modeling the evolutionary effects of horizontal gene transfer...

11 January 2007

Females Get Into Sexual Selection Game


Stiff competition amongst breeding female meerkats suggests novel selection pressures previously only seen in male animals...

2 January 2007

Human Brain Evolution Slows To A Crawl


The human brain underwent explosive growth after we split from our chimp cousins, but the pace of evolutionary change among the thousands of genes expressed in brain tissue has slowed since then...

17 November 2006

Lizards Pushed Into Evolutionary Fast Lane


Evolutionary biologists have witnessed natural selection dramatically change direction in a very short period of time...

24 October 2006

Shrinking Food Supply Leads To Shrinking Brain


Scientists studying orangutans in Indonesia have evidence for an evolutionary connection between food availability and brain size...

26 September 2006

Stealth And Sacrifice Show Evolution At Work


Male crickets on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai have lost their noise-making ability but have adapted their behavior in an ingenious manner to continue to meet up with female crickets...

14 August 2006

America: In Evolution We Don't Trust


One in three American adults firmly rejects the concept of evolution, a significantly higher proportion than found in any western European country...

16 June 2006

HIV's Virulence An Evolutionary Accident


The high virulence of HIV-1 might be due to an accident of evolution. Researchers believe that gene function lost during the course of viral evolution predisposed HIV-1 to instigate the fatal immune system failures that are its hallmark...

13 June 2006

Researchers Investigate Giant Sperm Paradox


The sperm of certain male fruit flies (drosophila bifurca) is 20 times longer than the creature itself, presenting evolutionary biologists with a cryptic conundrum...

18 May 2006

Early Humans And Chimps Much More Than Just Good Friends


Early humans still had the hots for their chimp cousins and possibly interbred with them, suggesting that the evolutionary divergence is much more recent - and more complicated - than previously thought...

24 February 2006

Food For Thought


Was it a shoreline diet rich in iodine that triggered explosive brain growth in early hominids? One scientist thinks so, although his detractors maintain that language and tool-use were the catalysts for our big brains...

17 February 2006

Sex - Evolution's Janitor


Sexual reproduction is a complicated, biologically costly business and researchers now think they know what it is about sex that justifies such a big energy investment...

20 January 2006

Evolution Makes A Mockery Of Fishing Policy


Fisherman take the largest individuals from a fish population, creating evolutionary pressure that selects for smaller, less viable fish, and because the changes are genetic, they don't immediately normalize when fishing ceases...

17 January 2006

Darwin's Dilemma Solved?


Two biologists may have answered one of evolutionary theory's most puzzling questions, by explaining the seemingly random genetic changes that organisms undergo...

9 December 2005

Balls vs Brains In Batty Battle For Evolutionary Success


Testes that account for around 10 percent of body mass? Fascinating new research into mammalian sexual selection has found that bats have evolved this way, but at the expense of brain size...

15 November 2005

Drug Gene Link To Human Evolution


A gene that is believed to play a role in human perception and drug dependence is expressed more readily in humans than in other primates, indicating a split in our evolution...

28 October 2005

Asexual Reproduction The First Step To Extinction


Scientists studying asexual fungi believe that asexual reproduction could be the first step on the road to extinction...

23 September 2005

Missing Link A Tripping Chimp?


New research into prehistoric dietary habits suggests that the humans who split from their chimp cousins seven million years ago may have subsisted on roots and tubers that they foraged from under the savannah. Interestingly, one particular root contains psychoactive compounds that can cause effects similar to the drug LSD. Could it be that human intelligence was jump-started in chimps thanks to a mind-expanding trip?

23 September 2005

Insight Into Eye Evolution Deals Blow To Intelligent Design


The human eye is one of nature's most complex works, which Intelligent Design advocates often cite as proof of an overarching creator. But new research has uncovered the missing evolutionary link between simple invertebrate eyes and our own sophisticated vision system...

9 September 2005

Key Points In Brain Evolution Identified


Ongoing natural selection in humans means our brains are still evolving, say researchers who have found that two previous evolutionary jumps coincided with key points in human history...

19 August 2005

Intelligent Design Down Under


It's not hard to see how Intelligent Design could gain a strong foothold in the United States. After all, America's puritanical roots and the robustness of its bible belt, coupled with a clueless administration, should ensure that Intelligent Design will co-habit with evolutionary theory throughout the nation's schools. But Intelligent Design has opened up a new front south of the border - Australia. And our convict descended buddies were a tad shocked when Brendan Nelson, the Australian Federal Education Minister, said that Intelligent Design should be taught alongside the theory of evolution in Australian schools...

28 July 2005

Autism, Asperger's and Evolution


What is the difference between a genetic abnormality and genetic evolution? Is the human body's adaptability responsible for many of the conditions that we call mental disorders? Researchers concede that the science world is still in the dark about the causes of autism and asperger's disorder, but do believe that autism and asperger's are most likely genetically oriented. Is it possible that in disorders such as autism and Asperger's we are witnessing evolution at work?

17 June 2005

Evolution Appears To Be A Start-Stop Affair


Evolutionary theory says that continuous alterations occur during the course of genome evolution, but some regions of the human genome exist in a long stasis, "punctuated" by relatively brief episodes of activity...

3 June 2005

Inherited Disease Findings Stir Evolutionary Debate


Findings that a disease that affects you today could be the result of one of your ancestors being exposed to an environmental toxin during pregnancy are sure to stir the old evolutionary blank-slate debate...

20 May 2005

Halting Evolution To Fight Illness


Researchers working with the bacterium E. coli have demonstrated a new way of fighting antibiotic resistance: by stopping evolution...

21 January 2005

Genetic Gradient Theory Challenges Evolutionary Ideas


The results of research into gradually changing genetic traits could have profound implications for current approaches to conservation...

22 December 2004

Promiscuous Proteins Provide Evolutionary Shortcuts


Proteins that indulge in so-called promiscuous activities can provide nature with ready-made starting points for the evolution of new functions...

10 November 2004

Promiscuous Females Make For Competitive Sperm


Females that mate with many partners create selective pressure for the male to make his semen more competitive...

16 August 2004

Prions Role In Evolution Revealed


Prions help cells navigate the risky business of natural selection by expressing a variety of hidden genetic traits...

11 August 2004

Evolution Itself Subject To Natural Selection


Scientists suggest that the ability to reorder genes or to cause large-scale genetic change are themselves genetic traits, traits that are subject to selection like any others...

9 August 2004

Big Brain Evolved Through Social Problem Solving


Open-ended thinking and social problem solving led human brains to surpass other species in size, developing ecological dominance 2 million years ago...

23 February 2004

Forced Mutations Demonstrate Evolution In Action


An experiment which forced E. coli bacteria to adapt or die demonstrated that they were capable of improvising a novel molecular tool to save themselves...

17 November 2003

Evolutionary Changes Not Always Small


The theory that a species evolves by going through a large number of small genetic changes may not be completely accurate...

22 May 2003

Superfast Evolutionary Change In Mice Observed


Changes in mice over just 150 years suggest genetic evolution can occur a lot faster than many had thought possible...

17 February 2003

A Revolution In Evolution


Darwin may have been wrong about sex. Or at least too narrow minded. There is growing evidence that Darwin's idea of sexual selection requires sweeping revisions...

21 April 2002

New Insight Into Basic Mechanism Of Evolution


The basic cellular machinery that generates the genetic diversity central to evolution does not operate quite the way scientists have thought...

Related:
Animal Kingdom
Biology
Environment
Genetics
Humans
Mind/Brain
Prehistory