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Latest National Evolutionary Synthesis Center Stories

What Sparked The Origin Of Life
2012-11-27 06:45:21

April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online Scientists have questioned how life began on a molecular level for a very long time. And now, an international team of researchers has presented evidence that sheds light on a possible mechanism by which life may have gotten a foothold in the chemical soup that existed early in the Earth's history. Several competing theories have been previously proposed for how life got its start even before the first genes or living cells emerged....

Image 1 - Modern Coyotes Much Smaller Than Their Ice Age Ancestors
2012-02-28 08:54:40

A new fossil study of North American Ice Age coyotes finds that modern coyotes are much smaller in size today than they were several during the Ice Age. Researchers studying museum collections of coyote skeletons dating from 38,000 years ago to the present day found the surprising change in size and have developed several theories as to why it occurred. Study co-author Julie Meachen of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, North Carolina says,...

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2010-12-02 07:48:55

What sets mankind's closest relatives "” monkeys, apes, and other primates "” apart from other animals? According to a new study, one answer is that primates are less susceptible to the seasonal ups and downs "” particularly rainfall"” that take their toll on other animals. The findings may also help explain the evolutionary success of early humans, scientists say. The study appeared online in the November 30 issue of American Naturalist. "Wild animals deal with a...

2010-04-22 11:35:11

DURHAM, N.C. -- A group of scientists who have studied the life history of primates for decades got to thinking about their own life histories and decided they had better do something to preserve their work for posterity. The conversation started after University of Wisconsin-Madison anthropologist Karen Strier experienced the unexpected deaths of two friends and academic colleagues "“ one a UW-Madison professor, the other a Brazilian graduate student. She approached Susan Alberts, a...

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2010-04-05 11:05:00

Surplus food can be a double-edged sword for bottom-feeders in the ocean deep, according to a new study in the April issue of Ecology. While extra nutrients give a boost to large animals on the deep sea floor, the feeding frenzy that results wreaks havoc on smaller animals in the seafloor sediment, researchers say. Descend thousands of feet under the ocean to the deep sea floor, and you'll find a blue-black world of cold and darkness, blanketed in muddy ooze. In this world without sunlight,...

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2010-03-15 15:40:20

Findings fuel ongoing debates over different approaches to dating the tree of life Flowering plants may be considerably older than previously thought, says a new analysis of the plant family tree. Previous studies suggest that flowering plants, or angiosperms, first arose 140 to 190 million years ago. Now, a paper to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences pushes back the age of angiosperms to 215 million years ago, some 25 to 75 million years earlier than either...

2010-01-11 13:45:58

A growing number of scientists are merging methods and results from different disciplines to extract new meaning from old data, says a team of researchers in a recent issue of Evolution. As science becomes increasingly specialized and focused on new data, however, researchers who want to analyze previous findings may have a hard time getting funding and institutional support, the authors say. In a commentary piece in the journal Evolution, the authors argue for removing cultural and...

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2009-07-28 16:15:00

 For avid fishermen and anglers, the largemouth bass is a favorite freshwater fish with an appetite for minnows. A new study finds that once they evolved to eat other fish, largemouth bass and fellow fish-feeders have remained relatively unchanged compared with their insect- and snail-eating cousins. As these fishes became top predators in aquatic ecosystems, natural selection put the breaks on evolution, say researchers.A highly sought-after game fish, the largemouth bass belongs to a...

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2009-05-22 06:05:00

Researchers have discovered answers to the long pondered question: Why is it that some birds sing such sophisticated songs and others sing so simply? The findings, which credit climate patterns as the primary cause, were revealed in an online publication of Current Biology on May 21st, a Cell Press publication, a public release accounted. The ranges in song patterns of various species of mockingbird, researchers inform, vary with climate in the many diverse places they inhabit. ...


Word of the Day
attercop
  • A spider.
  • Figuratively, a peevish, testy, ill-natured person.
'Attercop' comes from the Old English 'atorcoppe,' where 'atter' means 'poison, venom' and‎ 'cop' means 'spider.' 'Coppa' is a derivative of 'cop,' top, summit, round head, or 'copp,' cup, vessel, which refers to 'the supposed venomous properties of spiders,' says the OED. 'Copp' is still found in the word 'cobweb.'
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