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The Importance of Size in the Evolution of Complexity in Ants

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 10:14:37 +0000

Ants are amongst the most abundant and successful species on Earth. They live in complex, cooperative societies, construct elaborate homes and exhibit many of the hallmarks of our own society. Some ants farm crops, others tend livestock. Many species have a major impact on the ecosystems they live in, dispersing seeds, consuming huge quantities of […]

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Understanding Catfish Colonisation and Diversification in The Great African Lakes

Fri, 05 Sep 2014 10:29:42 +0000

Why some regions or habitats contain vast, diverse communities of species, whilst others contain only relatively few species, continues to be the subject of scientific research attempting to understand the processes and conditions that allow and adaptive radiation. The Great African Lakes exist as freshwater ‘islands’, with spectacularly high levels of biodiversity and endemism. They […]

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Sex Differentiation Begins During Early Development

Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:04:57 +0000

Males and females look different from each other, and these sexual dimorphisms are the result, largely, of sex differences in the expression of certain genes. Typically, scientists have studied sexual dimorphism in sexually mature adult animals, as this is the lifestage where differences are most apparent. However, many sex-specific phenotypes arise from sex-biased development, so […]

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Extinction and Species Declines:Defaunation in the Anthropocene

Mon, 18 Aug 2014 10:35:52 +0000

We are in the grips of a mass extinction. There have been mass extinctions throughout evolutionary history, what makes this one different is that we’re the ones causing it. A recent review paper from GEE’s Dr Ben Collen discusses the current loss of biodiversity and suggests that our main concerns are species and population declines, […]

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Defaunation in the Anthropocene
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Evolving Endemism in East Africa’s Sky Islands

Fri, 08 Aug 2014 14:16:32 +0000

The World’s biodiversity is not evenly distributed. Some regions are hot spots for species richness, and biologists have been trying better to understand why these regions are special and what drives evolution and diversification. A recent paper by GEE’s Dr Julia Day and recent PhD graduate Dr Siobhan Cox, investigated the diversification of White-Eye Birds […]

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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