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Index » Regional/Local » USA/Canada » Evolution! Page: 1, 2, 3 ... 114, 115, 116  Next
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Posted: Sep 28, 2014 - 10:19am

Human genome was shaped by an evolutionary arms race with itself

New findings by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, suggest that an evolutionary arms race between rival elements within the genomes of primates drove the evolution of complex regulatory networks that orchestrate the activity of genes in every cell of our bodies.

The arms race is between mobile DNA sequences known as "retrotransposons" (a.k.a. "jumping genes") and the genes that have evolved to control them. The UC Santa Cruz researchers have, for the first time, identified genes in humans that make repressor proteins to shut down specific jumping genes. The researchers also traced the rapid evolution of the repressor genes in the primate lineage.

Their findings, published September 28 in Nature, show that over evolutionary time, primate genomes have undergone repeated episodes in which mutations in jumping genes allowed them to escape repression, which drove the evolution of new repressor genes, and so on. Furthermore, their findings suggest that repressor genes that originally evolved to shut down jumping genes have since come to play other regulatory roles in the genome.

"We have basically the same 20,000 protein-coding genes as a frog, yet our genome is much more complicated, with more layers of gene regulation. This study helps explain how that came about," said Sofie Salama, a research associate at the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute who led the study. (...)


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Posted: Sep 25, 2014 - 1:32pm

Birds Evolved From Dinosaurs Slowly—Then Took Off
An 80-million-year transition was capped with a burst of feathered diversity.
These fossils found in northeastern China show the diversity and small sizes of some of the feathered dinosaurs. Many avian traits evolved in dinosaurs long before birds themselves appeared.
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Posted: Sep 24, 2014 - 11:21pm

Fossil of ancient multicellular life sets evolutionary timeline back 60 million years — ScienceDaily
A Virginia Tech geobiologist with collaborators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found evidence in the fossil record that complex multicellularity appeared in living things about 600 million years ago — nearly 60 million years before skeletal animals appeared during a huge growth spurt of new life on Earth known as the Cambrian Explosion.

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Posted: Sep 16, 2014 - 11:15am

It's Thanks to Evolution That No Two Faces Are Alike, Study Finds
Humans' stunning diversity of facial features evolved to make recognition easier, a study says.

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Posted: Sep 11, 2014 - 6:00pm

Chisel-Toothed Beasts Push Back Origin of Mammals

Squirrel-size mammals scampered through the trees above dinosaurs' heads, newfound Chinese fossils show, revising our image of the first furry beasts. Three newly described species suggest that mammals evolved earlier, and faster, than previously thought.

Called haramiyids, the recently discovered mammals lived in Jurassic China around 160 million years ago. Slender and graceful, the animals appear to have been specialized for life in the trees, with hands and feet that could grasp branches and a long prehensile tail like today's monkeys.

"The picture that Mesozoic mammals were shrew-like insectivores that lived in the shadow of the dinosaurs needs to be repainted," says American Museum of Natural History paleontologist Jin Meng, a coauthor of the new study. Discoveries during the past few decades, including the haramiyids, have shown that early mammals occupied a variety of habitats. "They walked on the ground; they also swam, dug to burrow, and glided in the forests," Meng says. (...)

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Posted: Sep 10, 2014 - 7:54pm

Shattering DNA may have let gibbons evolve new species
Gibbons have such strange, scrambled DNA, it looks like someone has taken a hammer to it. Their genome has been massively reshuffled, and some biologists say that could be how new gibbon species evolved.

Gibbons are apes, and were the first to break away from the line that led to humans. There are around 16 living gibbon species, in four genera. They all have small bodies, long arms and no tails. But it's what gibbons don't share that is most unusual. Each species carries a distinct number of chromosomes in its genome: some species have just 38 pairs, some as many as 52 pairs.

"This 'genome plasticity' has always been a mystery," says Wesley Warren of Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. It is almost as if the genome exploded and was then pieced back together in the wrong order.

To understand why, Warren and his colleagues have now produced the first draft of a gibbon genome. It comes from a female northern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys) called Asia. (...)

Nature
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Posted: Sep 5, 2014 - 10:50am

How Caffeine Evolved to Help Plants Survive and Help People Wake Up - NYTimes.com/Carl Zimmer
 Coffea canephora, also known as robusta coffee, drying in Laos. Scientists have sequenced its genome to understand how it evolved the ability to produce caffeine. Credit Barbara Walton/European Pressphoto Agency

Every second, people around the world drink more than 26,000 cups of coffee. And while some of them may care only about the taste, most use it as a way to deliver caffeine into their bloodstream. Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world.

Many of us get our caffeine fix in tea, and still others drink mate, brewed from the South American yerba mate plant. Cacao plants produce caffeine, too, meaning that you can get a mild dose from eating chocolate.

Caffeine may be a drug, but it’s not the product of some underworld chemistry lab; rather, it’s the result of millions of years of plant evolution. Despite our huge appetite for caffeine, however, scientists know little about how and why plants make it. (...)


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Posted: Sep 4, 2014 - 1:28pm

 RichardPrins wrote: 
man ...where would  he sit? 

...I guess anywhere he wants....  {#Drummer}
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Posted: Sep 4, 2014 - 1:11pm

Meet Dreadnoughtus, the 65-ton dinosaur | Ars Technica

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Posted: Aug 24, 2014 - 12:24pm

Evolutionary history of honeybees revealed by genomics
The honeybee is of crucial importance for humanity. One third of our food is dependent on the pollination of fruits, nuts and vegetables by bees and other insects. Credit: Matthew Webster
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Posted: Aug 21, 2014 - 9:36pm

Canola genome sequence reveals evolutionary 'love triangle'

An international team of scientists including researchers from the University of Georgia recently published the genome of Brassica napus—commonly known as canola—in the journal Science. Their discovery paves the way for improved versions of the plant, which is used widely in farming and industry.

Canola is grown across much of Canada and its native Europe, but the winter crop is increasingly cultivated in Georgia. Canola oil used for cooking is prized for its naturally low levels of saturated fat and rich supply of omega-3 fatty acids, but the plant is also used to produce feed for farm animals and as an efficient source for biodiesel.

"This genome sequence opens new doors to accelerating the improvement of canola," said Andrew Paterson, Regents Professor, director of UGA's Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory and co-corresponding author for the study. "We can use this knowledge to tailor the plant's flowering time, make it more resistant to disease and improve a myriad of other traits that will make it more profitable for production in Georgia and across the country."

Canola has one of the most complex genomes among flowering plants, forming thousands of years ago during the Neolithic Era when two plant speciesBrassica rapa and Brassica oleracea—combined in the wild. Plants in the B. rapa family include turnips and cabbages, while B. oleracea encompasses cauliflower, cabbage, collards, broccoli, kale and other common vegetables.

The Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory played prominent roles in the sequencing both B. rapa and B. oleracea in 2011 and 2014, respectively.

"Understanding the genomes of B. rapa and B. oleracea was key to piecing together the canola genome," Paterson said. "It's like a genetic love triangle between the three species, with canola sometimes favoring genes from B. rapa or B. oleracea or sometimes both."

While much the world's canola is used to make cooking oil and protein-rich animal feed, it is also used in the production of lipstick, lip gloss, soap, lotion, printing ink and de-icing agents. (...)


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Posted: Aug 17, 2014 - 2:26pm

 marko86 wrote:
The mother of all, and her name was LUCA

A four billion-year-old mystery surrounding the one common ancestor of all life on Earth has been solved by scientists. 

All life evolved from a single celled organism known as life's Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA). However, few details are known about what it looked like, how it lived and how it evolved.



 
She lived upstairs from me on the second floor. 
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Posted: Aug 17, 2014 - 12:08pm

Worm-like creature with legs and spikes finds its place in the evolutionary tree of life

One of the most bizarre-looking fossils ever found - a worm-like creature with legs, spikes and a head difficult to distinguish from its tail – has found its place in the evolutionary Tree of Life, definitively linking it with a group of modern animals for the first time.

The animal, known as Hallucigenia due to its otherworldly appearance, had been considered an 'evolutionary misfit' as it was not clear how it related to modern animal groups. Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered an important link with modern velvet worms, also known as onychophorans, a relatively small group of worm-like animals that live in tropical forests. The results are published in the advance online edition of the journal Nature.

The affinity of Hallucigenia and other contemporary 'legged worms', collectively known as lobopodians, has been very controversial, as a lack of clear characteristics linking them to each other or to modern animals has made it difficult to determine their evolutionary home.

What is more, early interpretations of Hallucigenia, which was first identified in the 1970s, placed it both backwards and upside-down. The spines along the creature's back were originally thought to be legs, its legs were thought to be tentacles along its back, and its head was mistaken for its tail.

Hallucigenia lived approximately 505 million years ago during the Cambrian Explosion, a period of rapid evolution when most major animal groups first appear in the fossil record. These particular fossils come from the Burgess Shale in Canada's Rocky Mountains, one of the richest Cambrian fossil deposits in the world. (...)


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Posted: Aug 16, 2014 - 6:57am

The mother of all, and her name was LUCA

A four billion-year-old mystery surrounding the one common ancestor of all life on Earth has been solved by scientists. 

All life evolved from a single celled organism known as life's Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA). However, few details are known about what it looked like, how it lived and how it evolved.


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Posted: Jul 26, 2014 - 12:32am

Once thought to be too complex an emotion for nonhumans, jealousy in canines—and the “pay attention to me” behaviors that arise from it—probably evolved to protect important social bonds in the pack, according to a new paper.


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Posted: Jul 25, 2014 - 4:44pm

Researchers find first sign that tyrannosaurs hunted in packs
Discovery of three sets of dinosaur trackways in Canada reveals that predators were running together
Researchers in British Columbia have found a set of tracks made by three tyrannosaurs running alongside one another. Photograph: Louie Psihoyos/Corbis
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Posted: Jul 24, 2014 - 4:32pm

 haresfur wrote:
RichardPrins wrote:

So facile. It's obvious to you. There's no shortage of people who neither accept "intelligence" (let alone understand what that might actually mean or how it exactly works/should be defined) in other animals, nor this process called evolution. Also there's the long-standing discussion between various camps to which degree nature vs. nurture plays a role in such a thing as "intelligence".

And the source site mostly republishes press releases of studies that appear in journals (which tend to be behind pay-walls). The former are usually written by PR people.

But no doubt you already knew all of that too... {#Wink}


  
What's facile is saying that genes determine chimp intelligence. I mean, if they didn't then amoebae would be as intelligent (or intelligent in the same way) as primates. And since intelligence is largely the ability to learn, it certainly can't be just a learned ability (although the question of how much you can be trained in how to learn is an interesting sideline).

So yeah, the headline finding is trivial.  Probably the more important part of the research is that they have developed some methods to characterise the relationship between gene expression and intelligence in Chimpanzees that will likely lead to an improved understanding of those factors in primates, given future funding. Nothing wrong with that, but not exactly earth-shaking IMO.

And people who don't accept intelligence in other animals are of as little scientific merit as the people who don't accept the currency of climate change.  However, I do agree that the behaviorists need to get their act together to address the bias against the obviously fuzzy continuum between animal and human intelligence that seems to have persisted in their field for generations.

Yeah, I did know all of that, too. 

 
Following on...

Crows Understand Displacement Better Than Six Year Olds


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Posted: Jul 24, 2014 - 11:47am

Earliest dinosaurs may have sported feathers | Science/AAAS | News

Researchers agree that birds are dinosaurs, but when did dinosaurs start becoming birds? New excavations in Siberia reveal that one sure sign of birdiness, the presence of feathers, has very deep roots in the dino evolutionary tree; indeed, dinosaurs may have been sporting feathers from the very beginning of their existence about 240 million years ago.

The fossil record makes clear that birds were the only dinosaurs to survive a mass extinction about 66 million years ago, probably caused by a massive asteroid hitting Earth. But the past decade or two of research, which is marked by the discovery of thousands of specimens of early birds and flying dinosaurs, also shows that feathers were an early evolutionary innovation—even if they probably arose for reasons unrelated to powered flight, such as insulation or sexual display.

Just how early has been a matter of debate. Although the best evidence for feathers has been found in a group of meat-eating dinosaurs dating back to about 150 million years ago, and from which birds apparently evolved at about the same time, there have been sightings of bristly, filamentous structures in very distantly related plant-eating dinosaurs as well. Leading examples have been Psittacosaurus, a cousin of the horned dino Triceratops found in Asia and dated to perhaps 120 million years ago; and the 160-million-year-old Tianyulong, found in China and reported in 2009.

If these bristly structures represented early feathers, as researchers have increasingly come to think, it would mean that feathers evolved in dinosaurs that preceded the evolutionary split between so-called saurischians (which include the meat-eating species) and ornithischians (which comprise plant-eating species) more than 200 million years ago. (Despite their confusing name, the ornithischians are not related to birds, which are saurischians.)

“There is a near-consensus now that the simple bristlelike structures in Tianyulong and Psittacosaurus should correspond to the earliest developmental stage” of what researchers often call “protofeathers,” says Pascal Godefroit, a paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels. But he and others point out that hard evidence for this hypothesis has been lacking, largely because the single filaments found on these plant eaters lack the complexity of the protofeathers found on early meat eaters. (...)


ScottN
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Posted: Jul 22, 2014 - 6:38pm

 RichardPrins wrote:
Elephants Have 2,000 Genes for Smell—Most Ever Found

We’ve long known that African elephants have a great sense of smell—but a new study shows that the large mammals have truly superior schnozzes.

Compared with 13 other mammal species studied, African elephants have the most genes related to smell: 2,000.

...
A young African elephant in Amboseli, Kenya. Photograph by João Nuno Gonçalves, National Geographic Your Shot

That’s the most ever discovered in an animal—more than twice the number of olfactory genes in domestic dogs and five times more than in humans, who have about 400, according to research published July 22 in the journal Genome ResearchThe previous record-holder was rats, which have about 1,200 genes dedicated to smell.

Why so many? “We don’t know the real reason,” study leader Yoshihito Niimura, a molecular evolutionist at the University of Tokyo, said by email. But it’s likely related to the importance of smell to the poorly sighted African elephant in interpreting and navigating its environment.

For instance, smell is a crucial sense for the functioning of an elephant trunk, which acts like a hand as it grips food and other objects. (Related: “Elephants Use Their Trunks to Ace Intelligence Tests.”)

“They use olfaction to quest the outer world, which may drivesuperior sense of smell,” Niimura said.

“Imagine the situation (in which) we have a nose on our palm!”

Sniffing Out Genes 

...

“Want to know what is going through the mind of an elephant? I have always said: Watch the tip of its trunk.”



  I am waiting with anticipation, as the "junk" DNA in the human genome is better understood.


RichardPrins
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Posted: Jul 22, 2014 - 6:03pm

Elephants Have 2,000 Genes for Smell—Most Ever Found

We’ve long known that African elephants have a great sense of smell—but a new study shows that the large mammals have truly superior schnozzes.

Compared with 13 other mammal species studied, African elephants have the most genes related to smell: 2,000.

A photo of an African Elephant in Rift Valley, Kenya
A young African elephant in Amboseli, Kenya. Photograph by João Nuno Gonçalves, National Geographic Your Shot

That’s the most ever discovered in an animal—more than twice the number of olfactory genes in domestic dogs and five times more than in humans, who have about 400, according to research published July 22 in the journal Genome ResearchThe previous record-holder was rats, which have about 1,200 genes dedicated to smell.

Why so many? “We don’t know the real reason,” study leader Yoshihito Niimura, a molecular evolutionist at the University of Tokyo, said by email. But it’s likely related to the importance of smell to the poorly sighted African elephant in interpreting and navigating its environment.

For instance, smell is a crucial sense for the functioning of an elephant trunk, which acts like a hand as it grips food and other objects. (Related: “Elephants Use Their Trunks to Ace Intelligence Tests.”)

“They use olfaction to quest the outer world, which may drivesuperior sense of smell,” Niimura said.

“Imagine the situation (in which) we have a nose on our palm!”

Sniffing Out Genes 

The team wanted to discern smell-related genes for as many species as possible, but very accurate genome information is available for only 13 mammal species, he said.

The team ran a special computer program that identified the elephant’s 2,000 olfactory genes. In doing so, they also wanted to get a better understanding of the function of these genes.

Their analysis revealed that over the course of evolution, one ancient gene dedicated to smell has created as many as 84 additional genes that the animals likely use to detect odors specific to their environment—for instance, the smell of certain foods on the savanna. (Get a genetics overview.)

“On the other hand, some other genes are evolutionarily very stable, without any change in number and with very few changes in sequence. These genes (are likely) very important for the survival of any mammal,” said Niimura.

He also emphasized that research on olfactory genes is still limited, and that another species—say, the Asian elephant—could very well break the African elephant’s record.

Superior Smellers

Overall, though, his research supports behavioral studies that show African elephants have an incredible nose for detecting odors.

For instance, studies have revealed that African elephants can distinguish between the scents of two ethnic groups in Kenya: the Maasai and the Kamba. (Related: “Elephants Know How Dangerous We Are From How We Speak.”)

“Maasai men spear elephants to show their virility, while Kamba people are agricultural and give little threat to them; therefore, elephants are afraid of Maasai men,” he said.

Joyce Poole, co-founder of the conservation group ElephantVoices, also referenced this ability of elephants to distinguish between tribes.

“This is a fascinating study that confirms what we have observed in the field,” Poole, also a National Geographic explorer, said by email. (See National Geographic’s elephant pictures.)

“If the wind is blowing in the correct direction, elephants can pick up the scent of humans … from over a kilometer away or detect and find the exact location of a tiny sliver of banana from over 50 meters away,” she said.

In addition, “experimental studies show that by sniffing urine-soaked soil, elephants can discriminate between and keep track of the location of family members.

“Want to know what is going through the mind of an elephant? I have always said: Watch the tip of its trunk.”


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