In a study published in Current Biology on June 22, the lab of Professor John Werren at the University of Rochester describes how four closely related species of parasitic wasps change their venoms rapidly in order to adapt to new hosts, and proposes that co-option of single copy genes may be a common but relatively understudied mechanism of evolution for new gene functions, particularly under conditions of rapid evolutionary change.
Snakes exhibit incredible evolutionary adaptations, including the ability to rapidly regenerate their organs and produce venom. The Castoe group at the University of Texas at Arlington studied these adaptations using genetic sequencing and advanced computing. Supercomputers of the Texas Advanced Computing Center helped the team identify a number of genes associated with organ growth in Burmese pythons, study secondary contact in related rattlesnake species, and develop tools to recognize evolutionary changes caused by natural selection.
The evolution of the amniotic egg -- complete with membrane and shell -- was key to vertebrates leaving the oceans and colonizing the land and air but how bird eggs evolved into so many different shapes and sizes has long been a mystery. Now, an international team of scientists took a quantitative approach to that question and found that adaptations for flight may have been critical drivers of egg-shape variation in birds.
During her study on fossil insects at China's Capitol Normal University, student Longfeng Li visited the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, USA, carrying two unidentified wasp specimens that were exceptionally well-preserved and 100 million years old. Close examination revealed that both were species new to science. Furthermore, one of them was found to belong to a genus of modern wasps. The study is published in the open access Journal of Hymenoptera Research.
Ancestors of the iconic New Zealand Christmas Tree, P?hutukawa, may have originated in Australia, new fossil research from the University of Adelaide suggests.
Many different theories exist as to why the shape of bird eggs varies so much across species, and now, new research yields evidence that variable egg shape is driven by unique flight adaptations.
According to new research, egg shape in birds is related to adaptations for efficient flight -- and a mechanistic model reveals how different egg shapes may be formed.
The fossil of an early snake-like animal -- called Lethiscus stocki -- has kept its evolutionary secrets for the last 340-million years. Now, an international team of researchers, led by the University of Calgary, has revealed new insights into the ancient Scottish fossil that dramatically challenge our understanding of the early evolution of tetrapods, or four-limbed animals with backbones.
Researchers have gone back in time, at least virtually, computationally recreating the chromosomes of the first eutherian mammal, the long-extinct, shrewlike ancestor of all placental mammals.
A new study shows that modern domestic cats are ultimately derived from the African wildcat, which was domesticated in two centers -- Egypt and the Middle East. Moreover, both lineages contributed to the genomes of European cats.