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evolution

Biology

A Surprise Source of Life’s Code

Emerging data suggests the seemingly impossible — that mysterious new genes arise from “junk” DNA.

geophysics

How Life and Luck Changed Earth’s Minerals

Did the minerals on our planet arise in a predictable fashion, or did they result from chance events? The answers could eventually help scientists identify planets likely to harbor life.

Biology

At Tiny Scales, a Giant Burst on Tree of Life

A new technique for finding and characterizing microbes has boosted the number of known bacteria by almost 50 percent, revealing a hidden world all around us.

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.

evolution

How Dinosaurs Shrank and Became Birds

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

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.