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Latest Selection Stories

2011-01-26 12:01:40

Charles Darwin based his groundbreaking theory of natural selection on the realization that genetic variation among organisms is the key to evolution. Some individuals are better adapted to a given environment than others, making them more likely to survive and pass on their genes to future generations. But exactly how nature creates variation in the first place still poses somewhat of a puzzle to evolutionary biologists. Now, Joanna Masel, associate professor in the UA's department of...

2010-12-28 08:18:16

(Ivanhoe Newswire) "“ New genes that evolved a mere one million years ago- a blink in evolutionary history- can be just as essential for life as ancient genes, according to this study. Evolutionary biologists have always believed that the gene most important to life are ancient and conserved, handed down form species to species as the "bread and butter" of biology. New genes that arise in species split off from their ancestors and were thought to serve a less important role- the...

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2010-11-17 10:21:28

NSF-supported researchers use digital evolution techniques to examine theories about the evolution of altruism One of the major questions in evolutionary biology is how altruism, or the act of helping another individual at your own expense, evolved. At first glance, "survival of the fittest" may seem to be best achieved by selfish individuals. However, altruistic behavior occurs in many species, and if it were not adaptive, we would expect it to disappear through the process of natural...

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2010-11-05 09:28:17

A new study published this week shows a genetic 'battle of the sexes' could be much harder to resolve and even more important to evolution than previously thought. This battle, observed across many species and known as intralocus sexual conflict, happens when the genes for a trait which is good for the breeding success of one sex are bad for the other "“ sparking an 'evolutionary tug-o-war' between the sexes. It has previously been thought these issues were only resolved when the trait...

2010-09-23 12:48:23

New research has found that a genetic variant which reduces the chance of contracting diseases such as tuberculosis and leprosy is more prevalent in populations with long histories of urban living. The research, published in the journal Evolution, shows that in areas with a long history of urban settlements, today's inhabitants are more likely to possess the genetic variant which provides resistance to infection. In ancient cities, poor sanitation and high population densities would have...

2010-09-21 21:40:49

Using digital evolution techniques that give scientists the ability to watch evolution in action, Michigan State University researchers have shed new light on what it is that makes species altruistic. Defined as the ability to sacrifice yourself for the sake of others, altruism has been a bit of a genetic mystery. Understanding why altruism evolves is one of the fundamental challenges in evolutionary theory. However, a paper published online in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society by...

2010-08-26 12:44:07

Work addresses limitations of kin selection, a dominant theory since the 1960s Scientists at Harvard University have sketched a new map of the "evolutionary labyrinth" species must traverse to reach eusociality, the rare but spectacularly successful social structure where individuals cooperate to raise offspring. Mathematical biologists Martin A. Nowak and Corina E. Tarnita and evolutionary biologist Edward O. Wilson present their work this week in the journal Nature. Their modeling shows...

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2010-04-05 07:49:32

Mothers win the genetic tug of war by producing more sons with larger fathers and more daughters with smaller fathers "Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies." Mother Teresa's words echo throughout the world. They ring particularly true in the biological kingdom among brown anole lizards, as evidenced in research detailed in the April 2 edition of the journal Science. Dartmouth researchers Ryan Calsbeek and Bob Cox study male and female brown anole lizards...

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2010-03-04 14:58:03

Two Dartmouth biologists have found that brown anole lizards make an interesting choice when deciding which males should father their offspring. The females of this species mate with several males, then produce more sons with sperm from large fathers, and more daughters with sperm from smaller fathers. The researchers believe that the lizards do this to ensure that the genes from large fathers are passed on to sons, who stand to benefit from inheriting the genes for large size. The study is...

2010-02-17 14:07:53

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 have thought. "We have discovered that natural selection can act not only on whole organisms and individual genes, but also on gene networks," says Antonis Rokas, assistant professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt University and senior author of the paper reporting the discovery that was...


Word of the Day
grass-comber
  • A landsman who is making his first voyage at sea; a novice who enters naval service from rural life.
According to the OED, a grass-comber is also 'a sailor's term for one who has been a farm-labourer.'