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Monday, July 22, 2024
Frozen mammoth skin retained its chromosome structure

Frozen mammoth skin retained its chromosome structure

One of the challenges of working with ancient DNA samples is that damage accumulates over time, breaking up the structure of the double helix into ever smaller fragments. In the samples we've worked with, these fragments scatter and mix with contaminants, making reconstructing a genome a large technical challenge. But a dramatic paper released on…
DNA from mammoth remains reveals the history of the last surviving population

DNA from mammoth remains reveals the history of the last surviving...

Enlarge / An artist's conception of one of the last mammoths of Wrangel Island.Beth Zaiken A small group of woolly mammoths became trapped on Wrangel Island around 10,000 years ago when rising sea levels separated the island from mainland Siberia. Small, isolated populations of animals lead to inbreeding and genetic defects, and it has long…
Last population of mammoths survived a severe population bottleneck

Last population of mammoths survived a severe population bottleneck

Enlarge / An artist's conception of one of the last mammoths of Wrangel Island.Beth Zaiken A small group of woolly mammoths became trapped on Wrangel Island around 10,000 years ago when rising sea levels separated the island from mainland Siberia. Small, isolated populations of animals lead to inbreeding and genetic defects, and it has long…
Scales helped reptiles conquer the land—when did they first evolve?

Scales helped reptiles conquer the land—when did they first evolve?

Enlarge / Upper left: a reconstruction of Diadcetes. Below: false color images of its foot and tail prints. Right: the section of the tail that left the print.Voigt et. al./Urweltmuseum GEOSKOP. Their feet left copious traces in muddy Permian floodplains, leaving tracks scattered across ancient sediments. But in one slab of such trackways, scientists uncovered…
Human ancestor ‘Lucy’ was hairless, new research suggests. Here’s why that matters.

Human ancestor ‘Lucy’ was hairless, new research suggests. Here’s why that...

Fifty years ago, scientists discovered a nearly complete fossilized skull and hundreds of pieces of bone of a 3.2-million-year-old female specimen of the genus Australopithecus afarensis, often described as "the mother of us all." During a celebration following her discovery, she was named "Lucy," after the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."Though Lucy has…
When did humans start social knowledge accumulation?

When did humans start social knowledge accumulation?

A key aspect of humans' evolutionary success is the fact that we don't have to learn how to do things from scratch. Our societies have developed various ways—from formal education to YouTube videos—to convey what others have learned. This makes learning how to do things far easier than learning by doing, and it gives us…
Scientists finally think they know why giraffe necks are so long

Scientists finally think they know why giraffe necks are so long

Giraffes didn't always look like the elegant giants we recognize — ancient giraffes looked more like deer. But something happened over the past millennia that drove giraffes to evolve the longest necks of any living animal.What that driver was, however, has been the subject of a 150-year-long debate among evolutionary biologists.In the 19th century, Charles…
Y chromosome is evolving faster than the X, primate study reveals

Y chromosome is evolving faster than the X, primate study reveals

The Y chromosome in primates — including humans — is evolving much more rapidly than the X chromosome, new research on six primate species suggests.For instance, humans and chimpanzees share upwards of 98% of their DNA across the whole of the genome, but just 14% to 27% of the DNA sequences on the human Y…
To kill the competition, bacteria throw pieces of dead viruses at them

To kill the competition, bacteria throw pieces of dead viruses at...

Enlarge / This is an intact phage. A tailocin looks like one of these with its head cut off. Long before humans became interested in killing bacteria, viruses were on the job. Viruses that attack bacteria, termed "phages" (short for bacteriophage), were first identified by their ability to create bare patches on the surface of…
Bizarre egg-laying mammals once ruled Australia—then lost their teeth

Bizarre egg-laying mammals once ruled Australia—then lost their teeth

Enlarge / The echidna, an egg-laying mammal, doesn't develop teeth. Outliers among mammals, monotremes lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young. Only two types of monotremes, the platypus and echidna, still exist, but more monotreme species were around about 100 million years ago. Some of them might possibly be even weirder than their…

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