Evolutionary biology

articles 1 to 20 of 55

A great white shark captured off the coast of Mexico. Flickr/Brook Ward

No bones about it: sharks evolved cartilage for a reason

We used to think of sharks as primitive fish because the had cartilage instead of bones. Turns out there was a good reason why and it makes them anything but primitive.
Sex is not without its costs. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just create a clone of yourself? Tamara Álvarez/Flickr

If you could clone yourself, would you still have sex?

Imagine how easy life would be if you could produce offspring without a mate. Sexual reproduction is the most common mating system in the animal kingdom. But in many species, females do not require males…
The human Y chromosome has retained only 3% of its ancestral genes. So why’s it a shadow of its former self? Rafael Anderson Gonzales Mendoza/Flickr

Sex, genes, the Y chromosome and the future of men

The Y chromosome, that little chain of genes that determines the sex of humans, is not as tough as you might think. In fact, if we look at the Y chromosome over the course of our evolution we’ve seen it…
So … how ‘bout it? Wendi Kelly/Flickr

Copulate to populate: ancient Scottish fish did it sideways

The intimate act of copulation is old – very old. In fact, it first evolved in ancient armoured placoderm fishes called antiarchs 385 million years ago. Fossils of the antiarch Microbrachius dicki show…
‘Smells like life-long partnership … with just a hint of sweat.’ opactiy/Flickr

Does Singld Out, a gene-based dating service, pass the sniff test?

Singld Out, an online dating service based on “cutting-edge” science, has the solution for busy singles to sniff out the perfect companion. Literally. The dating site, in conjunction with a company called…
Tired? I know how you feel, my friend. Fran Tapia/Flickr

Contagious yawns show social ties in humans and bonobos

Most of us have experienced the overwhelming urge to yawn in response to another person yawning – but we’re not the only…

Butterfly family tree mapped

The “Tree of Lepidoptera” - comprising butterflies, moths and related species - has been mapped back to their earliest common…
That’s one hell of a thatch - up to a tonne of weaver nest. sara_joachim

Biggest bird nests in the world are kept together by family ties

How can animals, from ants to people, form social groups with individuals working successfully together for a common good? So Charles Darwin asked in 1859, perceiving the existence of cooperative behaviour…
Why the differences between humans and other animals? Flickr/simon thomas

Brain versus brawn: the evolution of humans and other animals

One of the most important questions we can ask – and one that continues to take up much of the time of scientists, philosophers and the religious minded alike – is why are humans so different to the rest…
Male orb-web spiders are dwarfed by their female counterparts, but they can maximise success if they don’t mate indiscriminately. Brian Gratwicke/Flickr

Tiny male spiders can get a leg over – as long as they’re picky

Males will mate with anything. Well, that is the general view, one that exists because of a simple biological underpinning: females are reproductively limited by costly gestation, while males are only…
Your inner self. pureblacklove

The science of anatomy is undergoing a revival

Only two decades ago, when I was starting my PhD studies at the University of California in Berkeley, there was talk about the death of anatomy as a research subject. That hasn’t happened. Instead the…
Hydrogen peroxide – widely used in hair bleach – may also hold the key to life on early Earth. Brandon Milner Photography/Flickr

Can bleach help solve the origin of life in the primordial soup?

A chemical found in hair bleach may help answer questions about the origins of life and explain why new life does not emerge on modern Earth. Hydrogen peroxide may have helped transform RNA (ribonucleic…
No beating around the bush from the Genesis Expo in Portsmouth. ian_rickard

Redacting exam questions on evolution is a slippery slope

Writing good science exam questions is hard. Getting the wording right, making sure that what you are asking about is clear, pitching the question at the right level, takes time, lots of experience and…
Natural sunscreen in action. Cargo Cult

Skin cancer is not the main reason for darker pigmentation

Many theories have been proposed for the evolution of dark skin pigmentation – and a new paper revives one of the oldest: that skin cancer was a more potent selective force for the evolution of protective…

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