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evolution

Lede photo of a giant virus under a microscope
Abstractions blog

New Giant Viruses Further Blur the Definition of Life

March 5, 2018

A newfound pair of giant viruses have massive genomes and the most complete resources for building proteins ever seen in the viral world. They have refreshed the debate about the origins of these cellular parasites.

520px photo of phytoplankton
Abstractions blog

Evolution Saves Species From ‘Kill the Winner’ Disasters

February 12, 2018

Modelers find evidence that a combination of competition, predation and evolution will push ecosystems toward species diversity anywhere in the universe.

520px photo of Jarvis holding a zebra finch
Q&A

In Birds’ Songs, Brains and Genes, He Finds Clues to Speech

January 30, 2018

The neuroscientist Erich Jarvis found that songbirds’ vocal skills and humans’ spoken language are both rooted in neural pathways for controlling learned movements.

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evolution

A Domesticated Dingo? No, but Some Are Getting Less Wild

January 23, 2018

Near an Australian desert mining camp, wild dingoes are losing their fear of humans. Their genetic and behavioral changes may echo those from the domestication of dogs.

Aribidopsis thaliana inflorescence
Abstractions blog

With ‘Downsized’ DNA, Flowering Plants Took Over the World

January 11, 2018

Compact genomes and tiny cells gave flowering plants an edge over competing flora. This discovery hints at a broader evolutionary principle.

Illustration: altered DNA in bears
synthetic biology

Is a Bigger Genetic Code Better? Get Ready to Find Out

January 2, 2018

Evolution settled on a genetic code that uses four letters to name 20 amino acids. Synthetic biologists adding new bases to DNA will be free to improve on nature — if they can.

Photo of Corina Tarnita 520px
Q&A

A Mathematician Who Decodes the Patterns Stamped Out by Life

December 20, 2017

Corina Tarnita deciphers bizarre patterns in the soil created by competing life-forms.

New finch species "Big Bird "(offspring)
Abstractions blog

New Bird Species Arises From Hybrids, as Scientists Watch

December 13, 2017

The rapid, unorthodox emergence of a new finch in the Galápagos hints that speciation isn’t rare. New hybrid species may quietly appear and disappear without anyone noticing.

Game Theory cake puzzle
insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Triumph or Cooperation in Game Theory and Evolution’

December 8, 2017

How well does the Nash equilibrium concept from game theory map to the real world?