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Biology

Biology

New Letters Added to the Genetic Alphabet

Scientists hope that new genetic letters, created in the lab, will endow DNA with new powers.

Q&A

Decoding the Remarkable Algorithms of Ants

The biologist Deborah Gordon has uncovered how ant colonies search efficiently without central organization, an insight that might improve computer networks.

evolution

Biologists Invoke the Past in Modern Bacteria

By swapping ancient genes into modern E. coli, scientists hope to tease out the rules of evolution.

microbes

Below Our Feet, a World of Hidden Life

The soil teems with billions of hidden microbes. Researchers have begun to catalog how these organisms are changing the world.

evolution

How Dinosaurs Shrank and Became Birds

Modern birds emerged in a snap of evolutionary time through a series of simple genetic changes.

Biology

Scientists Map 5,000 New Ocean Viruses

In the few decades since viruses were first found in the oceans, scientists have only been able to identify a handful of species. A new survey has uncovered nearly all the rest.

Biology

Animal Copies Reveal Roots of Individuality

Genetically identical animals raised under similar conditions can make very different choices. These distinctions are helping researchers map the biological basis of individuality.

evolution

A Surprise for Evolution in Giant Tree of Life

The largest evolutionary tree ever compiled leads researchers to conclude that chance mutation — not natural selection — drives the development of new species.

origins of life

How Structure Arose in the Primordial Soup

Life’s first epoch saw incredible advances — cells, metabolism and DNA, to name a few. Researchers are resurrecting ancient proteins to illuminate the biological dark ages.