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How a DNA ‘Parasite’ May Have Fragmented Our Genes
A novel type of “jumping gene” may explain why the genomes of complex cells aren’t all equally stuffed with noncoding sequences.
Dinosaur Bone Study Reveals That Not All Giants Grew Alike
A survey of prehistoric bones reveals that T. rex and some of its cousins had more than one way to reach enormous sizes. Evolution may have preserved that variation in modern animals too.
Global Microbiome Study Gives New View of Shared Health Risks
The most comprehensive survey of how we share our microbiomes suggests a new way of thinking about the risks of developing some diseases that aren’t usually considered contagious.
Can We Program Our Cells?
By genetically instructing cells to perform tasks that they wouldn’t in nature, synthetic biologists can learn deep secrets about how life works. Steven Strogatz discusses the potential of this young field with researcher Michael Elowitz.
Simpler Math Predicts How Close Ecosystems Are to Collapse
By replacing thousands of equations with just one, ecology modelers can more accurately assess how close fragile environments are to a disastrous “tipping point.”
How Loneliness Reshapes the Brain
Feelings of loneliness prompt changes in the brain that further isolate people from social contact.
Can Our Brains Be Taken Over?
Several real-life pathogens can change a host’s behavior against their will. Here’s what we know about these zombie-like infections.
With Nothing to Eat Except Viruses, Some Microbes Thrive
“Virovores” — organisms that survive and multiply by eating viruses — might influence the flow of energy through ecosystems.
Gene Expression in Neurons Solves a Brain Evolution Puzzle
The neocortex of our brain is the seat of our intellect. New data suggests that mammals created it with new types of cells that they developed only after their evolutionary split from reptiles.