Researchers publishing December 17, 2020 in the journal Current Biology found that red squirrels in the Yukon have a greater chance of survival when living near neighbors. These fitness benefits depended on familiarity, or how long the same squirrels lived next to each other. These benefits were more pronounced in older squirrels, whom the data suggested could sharply offset the effects of aging by maintaining all of their neighbors from one year to the next.
An international collaboration of researchers in Namibia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States reporting in the journal Current Biology on December 17 have found that the cargo of a 16th century shipwreck known as the Bom Jesu included more than 100 elephant tusks, which paleogenomic and isotopic analyses trace to many distinct herds that once roamed West Africa.
Chimpanzees and bonobos are sister species that diverged around 1.8 million years ago as the Congo River formed a geographic boundary and they evolved in separate environments. Now, a whole-genome comparison of bonobos and chimpanzees reveals the gene pathways associated with the striking differences between the two species' diets, sociality and sexual behaviors.
To understand how specific ecosystems were affected by the meteorite impact that led to the mass extinction of dinosaurs, a team of McGill scientists has analyzed the microscopic remains of plants from this period. They found that local plant communities and ecosystems experienced a long-term shift towards fewer aquatic plants and an increase in terrestrial plants, including trees such as birches and elms. Changes in rainfall patterns during the extinction event were relatively minor and short-lived.
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba have shown that the enzyme lysine demethylase 7a helps ensure the ordered axial development of the mouse embryo by modulating Hox genes which specify positional characteristics along the head-to-tail axis. Their findings suggest that the enzyme modulates Hox gene activation by regulating the repressive histone mark H3K9me2, an epigenetic modification of the DNA packaging protein Histone H3. This study opens avenues for further research into evolutionary developmental biology.
With only 1% difference, the human and chimpanzee protein-coding genomes are remarkably similar. Understanding the biological features that make us human is part of a fascinating and intensely debated line of research. Researchers at the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and the University of Lausanne have developed a new approach to pinpoint, for the first time, adaptive human-specific changes in the way genes are regulated in the brain.
Animals can fall into an 'ecological trap' by altering their behavior in the 'wrong direction' in response to climate change, researchers say.
A new species of endemic, troglobiont centipede was discovered by an international team of scientists in the Romanian cave Movile: a unique underground ecosystem, isolated several millions years ago during the Neogene, whose animal life only exists because of the chemosynthetic bacteria. As the largest Movile's inhabitant, the new species can easily be crowned as the 'king' of this 'hellish' ecosystem. Aptly named Cryptops speleorex, the cave-dweller is described in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal ZooKeys.
In the last 60 years, plant diversity across Germany decreased by an average of 15 percent in over 70 percent of the more than 2000 species examined. This most comprehensive analysis of plant data from Germany ever conducted involved researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the universities of Jena, Halle and Rostock, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) as well as the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN).
Teeth and hard structures called dermal odontodes are evolutionarily related, arising from the same developmental system, a new study published today in eLife shows.