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evolution

neuroscience

The Beasts That Keep the Beat

New insights from neuroscience — aided by a small zoo’s worth of dancing animals — are revealing the biological origins of rhythm.

Q&A

In Warm, Greasy Puddles, the Spark of Life?

The biologist David Deamer proposes that life evolved from a collection of interacting molecules, probably in a pool in the shadow of a volcano.

ecology

A Timely Fix for a Grand Theory of Nature

A disarmingly simple model of ecology does everything well — except predict how rapidly nature can change. Can it become more realistic while still avoiding all of biology’s messy complexities?

origins of life

How to Build Life in a Pre-Darwinian World

Perhaps chemistry played a more instrumental role in the origin of life than scientists thought.

astrobiology

Scientists Debate Signatures of Alien Life

Searching for signs of life on faraway planets, astrobiologists must decide which telltale biosignature gases to target.

Biology

The Incredible Shrinking Sex Chromosome

Nature offers species a panoply of ways to determine an organism’s sex. That flexibility suggests we need not be concerned about losing sex chromosomes, but it raises the question of why such a fundamental property is so variable.

Q&A

The Information Theory of Life

The polymath Christoph Adami is investigating life’s origins by reimagining life as self-perpetuating information strings.

Life’s Big Leaps: Critical Moments in Evolution

How Humans Evolved Supersize Brains

Scientists have begun to identify the symphony of biological triggers that powered the extraordinary expansion of the human brain.

Life’s Big Leaps: Critical Moments in Evolution

The Woman Who Stared at Wasps

The biologist Joan Strassmann discusses cooperation in social insects, how amoebas can teach us about competition, and why the definition of “organism” needs an overhaul.