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genomics

Illustration of red spools with strands of DNA as the thread, with a blue brain in the background.
Quantized Columns

The Epigenetic Secrets Behind Dopamine, Drug Addiction and Depression

October 27, 2020

New research links serotonin and dopamine not just to addiction and depression, but to the ability to control genes.

Illustration of two fantastical creatures. One lifts an urn in its arms. The other lacks arms but lifts the urn on its tail.
evolution

By Losing Genes, Life Often Evolved More Complexity

September 1, 2020

Recent major surveys show that reductions in genomic complexity — including the loss of key genes — have successfully shaped the evolution of life throughout history.

genomics

Where Do New Genes Come From?

April 9, 2020

In their search for sources of genetic novelty, researchers find that some “orphan genes” with no obvious ancestors evolve out of junk DNA, contrary to old assumptions.

A split level photo shows algae growing on rocks both above and below the surface of the water at a margin of a Welsh glacial lake.
Abstractions blog

Billion-Year-Old Algae and Newer Genes Hint at Land Plants’ Origin

March 26, 2020

A recently unearthed fossil and new genomic discoveries are filling important gaps in scientists’ understanding of how primitive green algae eventually evolved into land vegetation.

Animated representation of locusts tracked by a computer move across a screen.
behavior

To Decode the Brain, Scientists Automate the Study of Behavior

December 10, 2019

Machine learning and deep neural networks can capture and analyze the “language” of animal behavior in ways that go beyond what’s humanly possible.

Illustration of two strips of movie film coiled around each other in a double helix.
behavior

Inherited Learning? It Happens, but How Is Uncertain

October 16, 2019

Studies suggest that epigenetics allows some learned adaptive responses to be passed down to new generations. The question is how.

3D illustration of three human skulls, split into left and right halves and nested one inside the next.
evolution

Fossil DNA Reveals New Twists in Modern Human Origins

August 29, 2019

Modern humans and more ancient hominins interbred many times throughout Eurasia and Africa, and the genetic flow went both ways.

Art for "What’s in a Name? Taxonomy Problems Vex Biologists"
taxonomy

What’s in a Name? Taxonomy Problems Vex Biologists

June 24, 2019

Researchers struggle to incorporate ongoing evolutionary discoveries into an animal classification scheme older than Darwin.

Art for "Ancient DNA Yields Snapshots of Vanished Ecosystems"
genomics

Ancient DNA Yields Snapshots of Vanished Ecosystems

May 29, 2019

Surviving fragments of genetic material preserved in sediments allow scientists to see the full diversity of past life — even microbes.