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Dating Mammalian Evolution

Fri, 28 Mar 2014 15:14:37 +0000

When the age of the dinosaurs ended around 65 million years ago, mammals stepped in to fill the gap, and the age of the placentals began. However, whether early placental mammals were already present on Earth before the demise of the dinosaurs has been the subject of a long standing debate. Recent research in GEE [...]

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The Delicate Balance of Effect and Response

Tue, 18 Feb 2014 11:50:36 +0000

We may not always be aware of it, but many wild plants, animals, fungi and even bacteria, provide crucial services to us which keep the ecosystems of Earth functioning. Environmental changes caused by human activities are now threatening many species, and those that cannot withstand these changes may be lost forever, potentially taking the services [...]

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It’s All in the Wrist

Fri, 20 Dec 2013 16:18:20 +0000

The evolution of the primate wrist has been dramatic, enabling primates to adapt to a wide variety of lifestyles and walking styles, including tree-swinging, climbing and terrestrial walking both on four legs and two. In hominids, the evolution of the bipedal gait freed up the forelimbs for tool use, and the wrist evolved independently from [...]

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The Transcriptional Profile of A ‘Wingman’

Wed, 27 Nov 2013 14:25:48 +0000

In many species, males have special adaptations to attract females. From antlers to stalk-eyes, to bright plumage and beards, males across the animal kingdom work hard to look attractive to the opposite sex. In some species, looking good isn’t enough, though. Male wild turkeys need a less attractive ‘wingman’ to help him attract a woman. [...]

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Damage and Fidelity: The Role of the Female Germline in mtDNA Inheritance

Mon, 11 Nov 2013 15:13:12 +0000

Billions of years ago, one single-celled organism engulfed another, beginning a symbiotic interaction that would change live on Earth forever. The mitochondria are what remains of this symbiotic event, and are responsible for producing energy in all eukaryotic cells. Derived from a free-living organism, they carry their own genes, but these genes are at risk [...]

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LeCHE MEETING

14 May 2010

A new study led by UCL scientists (in GEE) has found that current genetic data cannot explain why vast swathes of the world can digest milk.

Study co-author Dr Yuval Itan (UCL Genetics, Evolution and Environment) explains more fully what this study reveals.

The ability to digest the milk sugar lactose – also known as lactase persistence – is a selectively advantageous and recent evolutionary genetic trait, which emerged about 7,500 years ago in Europe and probably later in other parts of the world. This means that, once weaned, people in most parts of the world (large parts of Africa, most of Asia, and Oceania) cannot digest milk for the rest of their life.

However, the study published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, shows that the four genetic mutations currently associated with the ability to digest milk cannot explain why many people in western and southern Africa, south eastern Europe, the Middle East, and southern and central Asia are able to digest milk. It also suggests that other genetic variants leading to the ability to digest milk exist, but have not yet been discovered.

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