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Life & Evolution

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ODD ALLIES  Domesticated grapevines play host to the bacterium P. acnes, which relies on the plant for essential DNA repairs.

This three-dimensional reconstruction shows the skull of the sharklike Ozarcus mapesae. The braincase appears in light gray, the jaw in red, the gill arches in yellow and the horseshoe-shaped hyoid bone in blue.

LAND LINK  Paleobiologist Neil Shubin hosts the new PBS series Your Inner Fish, exploring humans’ connections to animal ancestors. He holds an example of his most famous fossil find: Tiktaalik roseae, an evolutionary link between fish and land animals.

  • Animals

    
    Wild Things

    Lionfish grow wary after culling

    Efforts to control invasive lionfish could make them more difficult to catch.

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    Wild Things

    Small sperm whale species share a diet

    Dwarf and pygmy species of sperm whales overlap in what they eat, and that could be a problem as the food web changes around them.

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  • Plants

    
    Science Ticker

    Milkweed 'horns' may equal wins in reproduction battle

    Plants may be ripping a page right from bucks’ playbooks, developing hornlike weapons to improve their chances of reproduction.

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  • Microbes

    How Bizarre

    One giant leap for zit-causing microbes

    Around 7,000 years ago, a bacterium that lives on humans and causes acne leaped to a very different host: domesticated grapevines. Since then, an essential DNA-repair gene in the microbe, Propionibacterium acnes, has mutated and no longer functions. Without the gene, the microbe is unable to function on its own and appears to rely on the grapevine for these DNA repairs. This is the first report of such a symbiosis between a plant and a microbe that’s typically associated with animals, says microbiologist Andrea Campisano of Italy’s Edmund Mach Foundation.

    Say What?

    Osmotroph

    An organism that eats by osmosis, relying on nutrients diffusing into its body from a higher concentration in its environment.
  • Fungi

    It's Alive

    Fungal fight club

    Combat between fungal individuals is a bit like war between heaps of spaghetti.
  • Conservation

    
    Science Ticker

    Nonhuman city natives in decline but can be conserved

    Cities have been a downer on biodiversity but native populations still remain in urban areas, offering a starting point for possible conservation efforts.

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  • Evolution

  • Ecology

    Reviews & Previews

    Do your bit for bumblebees

    The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and its partners have launched the Bumble Bee Watch website to track sightings. When you see a bee bumbling around, snap a photo.
  • Paleontology

    
    Science Ticker

    Fish gill fossils gnaw at ideas of jaw evolution

    Bony fishes, not modern sharks, may provide a better understanding of the earliest jawed animals and the evolution of the jaw itself.

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  • Biophysics

  • Other

    
    Deleted Scenes

    The Sopranos with feathers

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