Dinosaurs were pretty big – and yes, that’s how evolution had them in mind

All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey – which means it’s time for the Geological Society of America annual meeting. A couple of days packed with discussions and research presentations about stuff you did not know in … Continue reading

Bird evolution faster than thought, but still 300x too slow to outlive present human-induced extinctions

Doesn’t the Tree of Life make for a beautiful infographic? Shown is bird evolution according to the Hackett backbone tree – one of two studied by the researchers. Using the world’s first family tree linking every known bird species, scientists … Continue reading

DNA and RNA have evolving artificial counterparts

Living systems owe their existence to a pair of information-carrying molecules: DNA and RNA. These fundamental chemical forms possess two features essential for life: they display heredity — meaning they can encode and pass on genetic information, and they can adapt over time, through processes of Darwinian evolution.

A long-debated question is whether heredity and evolution could be performed by molecules other than DNA and RNA.

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Evolved to train to run: Most sedentary people may not realise, but humans evolved physical desire for endurance training

In the last century something unexpected happened: humans became sedentary. We traded in our active lifestyles for a more immobile existence. But these were not the conditions under which we evolved. David Raichlen from the University of Arizona, USA, explains that our hunter-gatherer predecessors were long-distance endurance athletes. ‘Aerobic activity has played a role in the evolution of lots of different systems in the human body, which may explain why aerobic exercise seems to be so good for us’, says Raichlen. However, he points out that testing the hypothesis that we evolved for high-endurance performance is problematic, because most other mammalian endurance athletes are quadrupedal. ‘So we got interested in the brain as a way to look at whether evolution generated exercise behaviours in humans through motivation pathways’, says Raichlen.

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Photo of the day: this worm is missing link in planetary food chain

Life on Earth consists of many millions of species, divided into ever smaller numbers when you zoom out to Genus, Family, Order, Class, Phylum and Kingdom – of which there are six. When you divide in Domains, there are just … Continue reading

Good news: we somehow killed just the right blue whales

Earth is a bit over 4.5 billion years old. Life on it is only about one billion years younger. And let´s say Homo smartphonensis is a mere three years old.