What determines whether a genetically modified vegetable or fruit is natural?
VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
What criteria should be used to determine whether a food is natural? What if gene-editing techniques produce changes indistinguishable from those that evolve naturally? Is the food still natural?
Volodymyr Goinyk / shutterstock
Should scientists keep both species genetically-separate and 'pure', even if that risks extinction?
A ruddy darter dragonfly perches on a stalk in Coleshill Park, Wiltshire, UK.
While many surveys show the numbers of wildlife falling, there is good news for some species – including pondskaters and various mosses and lichen.
The male bluehead wrasse defends his group of yellow females, one of whom has to step-up and take charge if he leaves.
When a male bluehead wrasse is removed from the group he dominates, the largest female changes sex, rapidly transforming ovaries into sperm-producing testes. Molecular research shows how.
Most of Kenya's biodiversity needs protecting outside protected areas in human‐dominated landscapes that are undergoing rapid change.
Air, water, land and wildlife are tainted with thousands of chemicals that we cannot see, smell or touch — and may not be considered a threat to wildlife.
Scientists have a new approach to understanding how pollution threatens species at risk in Canada.
A dung beetle wearing silicon boots to protect its feet from the hot soil, as part of an experiment.
Courtesy of Adrian Bailey/baileyphotos.com
Dung beetles are largely invisible. And yet without their vital activities, the world would have a lot more faeces in it.
Sharks and rays are among the most data-deficient groups of species.
A landmark report found more than one million species at risk of extinction – but even the "safe" ones may not be so safe.
How many species still to name? That’s a good question.
New species are being discovered all the time, which only adds to the problem of knowing how many there are on the planet today. It also helps to know what we mean by species.
Callao Cave on Luzon Island in The Philippines, where the fossils of
Homo luzonensis were discovered.
Callao Cave Archaeology Project (Florent Détroit)
Reports say that a new species of ancient human has been identified in a cave in The Philippines. But only a few bone and teeth fossil fragments have been found, so far.
A palisade trapdoor spider of the new species
E. turrificus walks across the rainforest floor near Maleny, Queensland.
Trapdoor spiders that build unique burrows are found only in small areas of Queensland. But they don't travel very far from their location, and that could put them at risk.
The first Fernandina giant tortoise seen in over 112 years.
Galapagos National Park Directorate
From the reappearance of giant bees to sightings of clouded leopards – can we ever be certain that a species has died out?
Generations of giraffes.
It can actually be very tricky to define a species, but in the 1900s, scientists found a pretty good way.
The Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town, South Africa.
The colonial history of botanical gardens encouraged pride in indigenous flora and culture.
A 3D model of the skeleton of a European polecat. Penis bone (baculum) is highlighted in pink.
Charlotte A. Brassey
Our study used innovative 3D scanning and engineering-inspired computer simulations to understand the evolution of the penis bone in some mammals.
Birds don’t fly across wide Amazonian rivers like the Rio Negro.
Marcos Amend www.marcosamend.com (for use with this article only)
Rivers are natural boundaries for evolving populations. But scientists don't agree whether they create new species or just help maintain them. Research using birds' molecular clocks provides some answers.
Berzelia stokoei, one of the 3% of plants in South Africa that are found nowhere else in the world.
There is good news for plant conservation in South Africa and internationally.
Attenborougharion rubicundus is one of more than a dozen species named after the legendary naturalist Sir David Attenborough.
Simon Grove/Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
Scientists have been naming species after well-known people since the 18th century, often in a bid for publicity. But the issue deserves attention – 400,000 Australian species are yet to be described.
Some people thought Charles Darwin was suggesting that, over a very long period of time, apes turned into people. He was not.
The short answer is no. An individual of one species cannot, during its lifetime, turn into another species. But your question helps us think about life, evolution and what it means to be human.
Ondrej Prosicky / shutterstock
It is a delicate – and dangerous – moment for one of the world's most ecologically important nations.