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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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'Evolution: a can of worms'

20 February 2011

Study by GEE's Prof Max Telford et al published in Nature

Since the turn of the twentieth century, zoologists have set out from coastal marine stations at dawn to sieve peppercorn-sized worms from sea-bottom muck. These creatures, called acoels, often look like unremarkable splashes of paint when seen through a microscope. But they represent a crucial stage in animal evolution — the transition some 560 million years ago from simple anemone-like organisms to the zoo of complex creatures that populate the world today. There are about 370 species of acoel, which gets its name because it lacks a coelom — the fluid-filled body cavity that holds the internal organs in more-complex animals. Acoels also have just one hole for both eating and excreting, similar to cnidarians — a group of evolutionarily older animals containing jellyfish and sea anemones. But unlike the simpler cnidarians, which have only an inner and outer tissue layer, acoels have a third, middle tissue layer. That is the arrangement found in everything from scorpions to squids to seals, suggesting that acoels represent an intermediate form.

That hypothesis has gained considerable support in recent years, but a report published in Nature this week1 is causing scientists to rethink the storyline.  Complete article

All links:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v470/n7333/full/nature09676.html

And accompanying piece

http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110209/full/470161a.html

And podcast http://www.nature.com/nature/podcast/index-2011-02-10.html

Profile of Max Telford

Page last modified on 20 feb 11 16:56