Eggs by Nicholas Blumhardt on Flickr

Overturning Evolutionary Doctrine

July 3, 2019

PhD candidates, Sam Church and Bruno de Medeiros, Research Associate Seth Donoughe ('18), and Prof. Cassandra Extavour disprove an old hypothesis and prove a new one. The study published in Nature analyzed a large data set to challenge the untested assumptions about egg size in insects. For example, one popular assumption has been that there is some universal scaling law that means certain egg shapes can only exist at certain sizes....

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European roe deer courtesy of Nathan Ranc

From One Animal to an Ecosystem

June 21, 2019

At 45 pounds and just over two feet tall, adult European roe deer are much smaller than American deer and closer in size to a greyhound. And unlike their cousin species, red deer or elk, roe deer like to be solitary, spending most of their lives within a range of one square kilometer.  PhD student, Nathan Ranc (Paul Moorcroft lab) want to know the reason for this mystery. In the Alps of northern Italy, Nathan and colleagues are trying to build a model that explains the factors determining why particular deer choose to live where they do. His work with roe deer...

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Tokyo Tech and Jim Hanken Developmental Cell Study 2019

Oxygen Shapes Arms and Legs

June 13, 2019

A collaboration between professors at Tokyo Tech and Yamagata University and Prof. Jim Hanken has identified a surprising factor that the amount of oxygen surrounding the embryo could have been crucial for the appearance of interdigital cell death in tetrapods during evolution. The study, published in Developmental Cell, looked to understand the role of environmental oxygen in the...

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Image from 2019 Science Advances Article by Stephanie Pierce

Fin-to-Limb Evolution

May 8, 2019
Stephanie E. Pierce collaborated with London's Royal Veterinary College to help explain how tetrapods (animals with limbs - hands and feet and fingers and toes) arose from animals that were fish with fins and lived in water.  The team examined fossil evidence using the innovative technique, anatomical network analysis (AnNA) and found a pattern not before seen. The study published in May 8 issue of Science Advances helps to explain how sea-dwelling creatures' fins became specialized... Read more about Fin-to-Limb Evolution
IB Student Camille DeSisto_Photo by Kris Snibbe, Harvard Staff Photographer

Camille DeSisto Searches for Answers in What Lemurs Leave Behind

May 18, 2019
Undergraduate IB Concentrator, Camille DeSisto (Davis Lab) spent two summers in Madagascar’s tropical forests studying invasive plant dispersal, by exploring lemur poop. The island’s lemurs eat the plant’s fruit and poop out the seeds, widely spreading the invasive strawberry guava along Madagascar’s tropical east coast threatening native plants that are unlike plants found anywhere else. Camille's research was featured in the... Read more about Camille DeSisto Searches for Answers in What Lemurs Leave Behind
Illustrations for McCoy Proceedings of Royal Society B Paper

Structurally Assisted Super Black in Colourful Peacock Spiders

May 15, 2019

Peacock spiders, known for their elaborate mating dances, use incredibly dark, “super black” patches on their body to enhance nearby colors. This makes colors look impossibly bright, or even glowing, an optical illusion also used by birds-of-paradise.The spider evolved microlenses on its body surface, which manipulate light in the same way human-made materials do.

PhD Student, Dakota McCoy (David Haig Lab) documents a remarkable convergence of form, between nature and engineering, and function, between two groups of highly ornate, sexually selected animals,...

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Bacillus subtilis swarm by Adrian Daerr

L. Mahadevan and Team Describe How Bacteria Spread in Different Forms

April 30, 2019

Prof. L. Mahadevan and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences researchers have developed a new model to describe how bacteria spread in different forms. The study, published in the open-access journal, eLife, combines mechanics, hydrodynamics and transport to describe the dynamics of growth and formation of thin bacterial swarms and biofilms; revealing the spread in both forms of microbial community are limited by the constraints of water and...

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Rewan Abdelwahab

Rewan Abdelwahab Presented Spirit of Harvard College Award

April 16, 2019

Congratulations to Rewan Abdelwahab, IB concentrator in OEB, presented the Spirit of Harvard College Award by the Dean of Students Office. Rewan is one of three students to receive the award for showing a commitment to the ideals articulated in the Mission of Harvard College over the past academic year. The award recognizes significant campus leadership contributions to integrate the intellectual, social, and...

southern cassowary Luke Seitz

Convergent Regulatory Evolution and Loss of Flight in Paleognathous Birds

April 5, 2019

Species from widely divergent taxa can experience similar changes in traits. What underlying genetic drivers cause these parallel changes remains an open question. Scott Edwards, Tim Sackton (Director of Bioinformatics and former Postdoc) and PhD student Phil Grayson used a new method developed by collaborators in the Harvard Statistics Department to look across groups of birds that have repeatedly lost flight. The team showed there is convergence in the regulatory regions associated with genes related to flight, but not within the protein coding regions.

In the...

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