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Articles on Biology

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Juniper trees, common in Arizona’s Prescott National Forest, have been dying with the drought. Benjamin Roe/USDA Forest Service via AP

Trees are dying of thirst in the Western drought – here’s what’s going on inside their veins

Without enough water, trees can develop embolisms, similar to blockages in human blood vessels, and they’re more likely to die from drought or fires.
With the evidence uncovered by paleontologists, an artist sketched El Bosque Petrificado Piedra Chamana as it might have looked long before humans. Mariah Slovacek/NPS-GIP

A volcanic eruption 39 million years ago buried a forest in Peru – now the petrified trees are revealing South America’s primeval history

Using remnants of fossilized trees, scientists and an artist figured out what the forest looked like long before humans existed.
Researchers have grown mammal embryos later into development than ever before in an artificial womb. Vitalii Kyryk/WikimediaCommons

Lab–grown embryos and human–monkey hybrids: Medical marvels or ethical missteps?

Researchers have grown the first human-monkey hybrid embryos as well as mouse embryos in artificial wombs late into development. These biomedical breakthroughs raise different ethical quandaries.
MRNA is an important messenger, carrying the instructions for life from DNA to the rest of the cell. ktsimage/iStock via Getty Images Plus

What is mRNA? The messenger molecule that’s been in every living cell for billions of years is the key ingredient in some COVID-19 vaccines

Recently in the spotlight for its role in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, mRNA is not a new invention. It’s a crucial messenger molecule at work every day in every cell in your body.
Just 20 amino acids for chains in various combinations to create the thousands of varieties of proteins in our body. David Goodsell/ProteinDatabase

What is a protein? A biologist explains

A biologist explains where proteins come from and what role the 20,000 or so proteins in your body play in keeping you alive and kicking.
Behind the scenes, natural history museums store biological samples from the field. Ryan Stephens

Museum specimens could help fight the next pandemic – why preserving collections is crucial to future scientific discoveries

Specimen preservation means researchers don’t need to reinvent the wheel each time they ask a new question, making it critical for the advancement of science. But many specimens are discarded or lost.
Getting the job done. A female Asian water dragon (Physignathus cocincinus) produced a daughter (left) without the assistance of a male. Skip Brown/Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Virgin births from parthenogenesis: How females from some species can reproduce without males

Parthenogenesis, a form of reproduction in which an egg develops into an embryo without being fertilized by sperm, might be more common than you realized.

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