River Dolphins Have a Surprisingly Large Vocabulary

Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is home to a dizzying array of life, from colorful poisonous frogs to deadly jaguars. One resident is the Araguaian river dolphin, which was only recently discovered by scientists in 2014. Unlike playful ocean dolphins, the Araguaian river dolphin is relatively solitary. Mother dolphins interact frequently with their baby calves, but rarely do adults interact with each other. Because of the river … Continue reading River Dolphins Have a Surprisingly Large Vocabulary

Evidence of an Ancient Human Species Unearthed in the Philippines

In 2007, during an excavation on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, archeologist Armand Salvador Mijares discovered a 67,000-year-old foot bone that led scientists to rethink the history of human evolution.  The bone had features resembling hominins—a subfamily of primates comprised of modern Homo sapiens and others closely related human species.  The finding provided the earliest direct evidence of human presence in the Philippines, … Continue reading Evidence of an Ancient Human Species Unearthed in the Philippines

New Drug May Prevent Mosquitoes From Wanting to Bite You

While you are likely familiar with the annoying experience of being a mosquito’s ‘meal of the day’, more is going on behind the scenes of that insect bite than meets the eye.  Mosquitoes, which are drawn to human scent and breath, require proteins from the blood of their victims to develop their eggs and reproduce. This sounds harmless enough, but mosquitoes also excel at picking … Continue reading New Drug May Prevent Mosquitoes From Wanting to Bite You

What Pelvis Shape Can Teach Us About Human Evolution

If you are looking for an interesting case study on human evolution, look no further than the female pelvis. The shape of the pelvis is thought to be a compromise between two opposing evolutionary pressures. On one hand, a narrow pelvis is ideal for walking on two feet, a trait that gives us a competitive edge over other species. On the other hand, a wide … Continue reading What Pelvis Shape Can Teach Us About Human Evolution

The Chemistry Nobel: Evolving proteins into better medicines and biofuels

It’s that time of year – Nobel Prize season! This year, the Chemistry Nobel prize was awarded to three scientists: one half to Frances Arnold “for the directed evolution of enzymes,” and the other half to George Smith and Sir Gregory Winter “for the phage display of peptides and antibodies.” What exactly are these award-winning technologies and how have they impacted society? ‘Directed evolution of … Continue reading The Chemistry Nobel: Evolving proteins into better medicines and biofuels

Transposons: Your DNA that’s on the go

by Francesca Tomasi figures by Olivia Foster Rhoades Argonaut. Idéfix. Flamenco. These words invoke movement: the ancient Greek Argonauts were a band of adventurous sailors famous for their epic quests. Meanwhile, Idéfix is the name of an adventure-loving dog in the French Astérix comic book series. And finally, flamenco conjures images of vivacious dancers. You would think the similarities between Greek mythology, French comic books, and … Continue reading Transposons: Your DNA that’s on the go

Expanding the Antibiotic Arsenal: A New Drug of Last Resort

Prior to the discovery of antibiotics, bacterial infections were the leading cause of death worldwide. Now, treating infections is often a routine procedure – simply requiring a doctor’s visit and a prescribed antibiotic. However, this simple routine has become marred by the emergence of antibiotic resistance. The misuse and overuse of antibiotics is fueling the rise of resistant bacteria. In response to antibiotic exposure, bacteria have evolved … Continue reading Expanding the Antibiotic Arsenal: A New Drug of Last Resort

Scientists show predators could drive fish to colonize land

Scientists may have found an explanation for why the first amphibious fish moved from water to land. On a small island in the South Pacific Ocean, four species of blennies spend half their time in water and half on land. To test whether predation could be driving the transition to land, researchers created blenny mimics and dispersed them throughout the blennies’ habitats. They found that the aquatic mimics were attacked at a much higher frequency than the terrestrial mimics were, making predation a viable cause for the water-to-land transition. Continue reading Scientists show predators could drive fish to colonize land

New technology lets researchers visualize the evolution of antibiotic resistance

Antibiotics are powerful drugs used to treat bacterial infections. Recently, however, a growing number of bacterial infections have developed resistance to many commonly used antibiotics. In fact, the World Health Organization has pegged antibiotic resistance as one of the world’s biggest threats to global health! Bacteria acquire antibiotic resistance by changing in a way that reduces drug effectiveness. In a recent article, a research team … Continue reading New technology lets researchers visualize the evolution of antibiotic resistance