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species

2020 in Review

The Year in Biology

December 23, 2020

While the study of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was the most urgent priority, biologists also learned more about how brains process information, how to define individuality and why sleep deprivation kills.

Illustration of a blue tiger.
Abstractions blog

How Neutral Theory Altered Ideas About Biodiversity

December 8, 2020

The simple insight that most changes are random had a profound effect on genetics, evolution and ecology.

Looping video that shows transformations between African cichlid species.
Abstractions blog

New Fish Data Reveal How Evolutionary Bursts Create Species

December 1, 2020

In three bursts of adaptive change, one species of cichlid fish in Lake Tanganyika gave rise to hundreds.

ecology

A Physicist’s Approach to Biology Brings Ecological Insights

October 13, 2020

The physicist Jeff Gore tests theories about microbe communities experimentally and finds new rules governing ecological stability.

Photo of one of the Russian sturgeon-paddlefish hybrids called sturddlefish.
Abstractions blog

Extra DNA May Make Unlikely Hybrid Fish Possible

August 5, 2020

The unintentional creation of “sturddlefish” hybrids may illuminate the genomic mechanisms that govern whether species can interbreed.

Cichlid fish of diverse colors and shapes swim together.
evolution

New Hybrid Species Remix Old Genes Creatively

September 10, 2019

Clues from fish diversity suggest that interbreeding between species could be a major mechanism of fast speciation.

Abstractions blog

Can New Species Evolve From Cancers? Maybe. Here’s How.

August 19, 2019

Researchers agree it’s a long shot, but transmissible cancers could theoretically evolve into independent species. Certain weird parasites might be living proof.

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 "Scientists Discover Nearly 200,000 Kinds of Ocean Viruses"
Abstractions blog

Scientists Discover Nearly 200,000 Kinds of Ocean Viruses

April 25, 2019

New work raises the estimated diversity of viruses in the seas more than twelvefold and lays the groundwork for a better understanding of their impact on global nutrient cycles.