Christie Wilcox

Photo of one of the Russian sturgeon-paddlefish hybrids called sturddlefish.
Abstractions blog

Extra DNA May Make Unlikely Hybrid Fish Possible

August 5, 2020

The unintentional creation of “sturddlefish” hybrids may illuminate the genomic mechanisms that govern whether species can interbreed.

The skeletons of a man and woman, showing the difference in their heights.
Abstractions blog

Males Are the Taller Sex. Estrogen, Not Fights for Mates, May Be Why.

June 8, 2020

To explain why men are on average taller than women, scientists theorized about competition for mates. But the effects of estrogen on bone growth may be answer enough.

Video of two slipper-shaped paramecia engaged in a sexual process called conjugation.
evolution

Why Sex? Biologists Find New Explanations.

April 23, 2020

Why did sex evolve? Theories usually focus on the diversity of future generations, but some researchers find compelling explanations in the immediate benefits to individuals.

Scanning electron micrograph of a cluster of coccolithophores.
ecology

How Jurassic Plankton Stole Control of the Ocean’s Chemistry

October 1, 2019

Only 170 million years ago, new plankton evolved. Their demand for carbon and calcium permanently transformed the seas as homes for life.

Abstractions blog

Can New Species Evolve From Cancers? Maybe. Here’s How.

August 19, 2019

Researchers agree it’s a long shot, but transmissible cancers could theoretically evolve into independent species. Certain weird parasites might be living proof.

Art for "What’s in a Name? Taxonomy Problems Vex Biologists"
taxonomy

What’s in a Name? Taxonomy Problems Vex Biologists

June 24, 2019

Researchers struggle to incorporate ongoing evolutionary discoveries into an animal classification scheme older than Darwin.

Art for "Researchers Rethink Ancestry of Complex Cells"
evolution

Researchers Rethink the Ancestry of Complex Cells

April 9, 2019

New studies revise ideas about the symbiosis that gave mitochondria to cells and about whether the last common ancestor of all eukaryotes was one cell or many.

Tiny parasitoid wasps
evolution

Moonlighting Genes Evolve for a Venomous Job

June 22, 2017

An unexpected mechanism allows wasps to rapidly co-opt genes for new toxic functions.

evolution

The Thorny Truth About Spine Evolution

June 14, 2017

A definitive explanation for why plants evolved spines remains elusive, and human biases compound the problem.