What's up in
What Is Life?
Without a good definition of life, how do we look for it on alien planets? Steven Strogatz speaks with Robert Hazen, a mineralogist and astrobiologist, and Sheref Mansy, a chemist, to learn more.
What’s in a Name? Taxonomy Problems Vex Biologists
Researchers struggle to incorporate ongoing evolutionary discoveries into an animal classification scheme older than Darwin.
What a Newfound Kingdom Means for the Tree of Life
Neither animal, plant, fungus nor familiar protozoan, a strange microbe that sits in its own “supra-kingdom” of life foretells incredible biodiversity yet to be discovered by new sequencing technologies.
World’s Simplest Animal Reveals Hidden Diversity
The first animal genus defined purely by genetic characters represents a new era for the sorting and naming of animals.
DNA Analysis Reveals a Genus of Plants Hiding in Plain Sight
Gene-sequence data is changing the way that botanists think about their classification schemes. A recent name-change for a common houseplant resulted from the discovery that it belonged in an overlooked genus.
New Bird Species Arises From Hybrids, as Scientists Watch
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.
Interspecies Hybrids Play a Vital Role in Evolution
Hybrids, once treated as biological misfits, play a vital role in the evolution of many animal species. Now conservationists are trying to reconcile that truth with policies.
As Animals Mingle, a Baffling Genetic Barrier
Despite swapping DNA through interbreeding, butterflies and other animals can maintain distinct species.
A New Approach to Building the Tree of Life
More genetic data is available than ever before to help build evolutionary trees, but scientists are finding that different genes even in the same organism can tell conflicting stories.