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  • Science Ticker

    Happy birthday, Mr. Darwin

    Guest post by Susan Milius

    Not to worry, Mr. Darwin!  Specimen 708,  a male rove beetle that you collected in Argentina in 1832, has finally turned up after decades of being classified “not found.” And on your 205th birthday, a paper in ZooKeys names it Darwinilus sedarisi, a new species remarkable enough to deserve its own new genus.

    Your ideas are in the news all the time, though...

    02/12/2014 - 19:38 Evolution
  • News

    Charms of small males may collapse a Darwin’s finch species

    The lure of little guys of the wrong species — plus an invasion of flies — may drive one of Darwin’s finch species toward extinction.

    Diverse finches that Darwin saw scattered across the Galápagos Islands have become favorite subjects for studying how species diverge or blur together in time frames a person can observe.

    Now, on the island of Floreana, females of the medium tree...

    02/12/2014 - 09:59 Evolution, Ecology, Animals
  • News in Brief

    Wrinkle arises in soggy hand studies

    Scientists have lost their grip on understanding why fingers wrinkle when soaked in water. An independent research group was unable to reproduce the finding that the wrinkles improve handling of wet, slippery objects.

    Last year, researchers had 20 adults handle dry or wet glass marbles and lead weights with plump or pruney fingers (SN: 2/9/13). Volunteers transferred the objects from one...

    01/13/2014 - 10:30 Animals, Biophysics
  • Wild Things

    African frog conceals itself with chemicals

    African stink ants (Paltothyreus tarsatus) really don’t like to be disturbed. They live in colonies of several hundred to thousands, and the 2.5-centimeter-long insects vigorously defend their nests, biting intruders with powerful mandibles and stinging them with venom. They mostly eat arthropods but also chow down on frogs and other small vertebrates.

    But there’s one frog they don’t eat...

    12/23/2013 - 12:10 Animals
  • News

    Evolution of venom, binge eating seen in snake DNA

    Snake genes are in high evolutionary gear.

    Complete genomes of the Burmese python and king cobra reveal that many snake genes have changed more rapidly than those of other vertebrates, researchers report December 2 in two studies in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    The two genomes are the first complete sets of snake genes ever assembled. 

    Snakes evolved...

    12/03/2013 - 12:45 Genetics, Evolution, Molecular Evolution
  • News

    Little Red Riding Hood gets an evolutionary makeover

    Back off, Big Bad Wolf. The Ravenous Data Cruncher has cornered “Little Red Riding Hood,” brandishing a statistical exposé of the fictional girl’s hazy past.

    In computer analyses that track the evolution of 58 documented folktales, anthropologist Jamshid Tehrani of Durham University in England finds that related versions of “Little Red Riding Hood” spread from a European origin over at...

    11/22/2013 - 13:47 Anthropology, Language
  • Gory Details

    Maybe mean girls' mental games have a purpose

    Human nature has a dark and violent side. And that means you too, ladies. A new set of studies suggests it’s a Mean Girls world out there, and aggressive competition may be rooted deep in evolution.

    We humans are fascinated by women willing to duke it out. Witness Jerry Springer’s career. We love to hate women who go ballistic and throw chairs at female rivals. But we also tend to...

    10/31/2013 - 13:28 Psychology
  • Wild Things

    Rhino beetle horns come cheap

    If you don’t like bugs* or other creepy crawlies, rhinoceros beetles are not for you. But these insects are marvelous critters, remarkable for both their large size and the interesting shapes of their bodies.

    The Japanese rhinoceros beetle, for instance, has a long forked horn that looks as if someone had glued a miniature antler onto its nose. Kids in Japan collect these beetles (in...

    10/11/2013 - 12:17 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    Tiger, lion and domestic cat genes not so different

    Tigers and their relatives have hit on the right combination of genes to make them successful hunters, scientists have learned from studying the DNA of some of the biggest big cats.

    Along with teasing out the Siberian tiger’s secrets, an international team of scientists also examined the genomes of a white Bengal tiger, a snow leopard and two African lions, one of them from a rare white...

    09/18/2013 - 16:51 Animals, Genetics, Conservation
  • News

    Young insect legs have real meshing gears

    View the videoPeople's proud invention of gears was preceded by mindless evolution: The tiny points on the legs of juvenile planthopper insects move like intermeshing cogs.

    Those cogs in young Issus coleoptratus planthoppers touch at the upper parts of the legs, says neurobiologist Malcolm Burrows of the University of Cambridge in England. And when the planthopper leaps, gear teeth on...

    09/12/2013 - 14:45 Animals, Evolution