2021

Yangfan Zhang

Yangfan Zhang awarded NSERC Fellowship

September 15, 2021
Postdoctoral Fellow, Yangfan Zhang (Lauder Lab) awarded Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada post-doctoral fellowship for his project, "Fish locomotion: Illuminating the black box of unsteady swimming gates and energetic."
Gonzalo-Giribet_Guggenheim

A lifetime of natural history with Gonzalo Giribet

August 11, 2021
Gonzalo Giribet joins the HMSC Connects! podcast to recount his insatiable interest in scouring the beach for shells growing up south of Barcelona, Spain, which ultimately led him into a career as a scientist.
Gonzalo Giribet

Gonzalo Giribet named Director of the MCZ

July 1, 2021
Gonzalo Giribet has been named the new director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ). Prof. Gonzalo is stepping in for James Hanken who served as MCZ Director for 20 years.
Edward O. Wilson 1929-2021

In Memoriam: Edward O. Wilson 1929 - 2021

December 27, 2021

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Edward O. Wilson on December 26th. He was 92. Professor Wilson was called "Darwin's natural heir," and was known as "the ant man" for his pioneering work in entomology. He authored over 30 books, twice receiving a Pulitzer Prize along with many other distinguished awards during his six decades at Harvard. He was a pillar of our community and an inspiration to many. He will be greatly missed.

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Jacks of Gold by Laszlo Ilyes on Flickr

Convergence of undulatory swimming movement across a diversity of fishes

December 7, 2021

Fish move not just by swimming but also by jumping, burrowing, walking, and flying. Many species though move by undulating their body and caudal fin (the tail fin that is used for propulsion). These body-caudal-fin (BCF) swimmers, as they are called, exert force against the surrounding water to support and move their body in an undulating motion. Traditionally, these fishes were classified based on key morphological traits and then grouped into four expected swimming modes based on four model species: eel, trout, mackerel, and tuna. But do all fish swim in certain ways based on this...

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HUH Baccharis neglecta, Collected in Mustang Island State Park.

Global database of plants reveals human activity biggest driver of homogenization of plant communities

December 6, 2021

Species extinction, the introduction of non-native plants, climate change, and pollution are all major drivers of changes in biological communities due to human activity. Though these patterns have been well studied, most investigations focus on only one of these drivers and often in a localized area rather than more globally.

In a study published December 6 in Nature Communications researchers have compiled a dataset of over 200,000 plant species worldwide to demonstrate the extent to which...

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Senesced fertile leaf from last year, alongside a new developing fertile leaf from the current year. The current year's developing fertile leaf will eventually senesce and look like the adjacent leaf from last year.

Humidity changes in dead fern fronds drives unique timing of spore dispersal in a widespread fern species

November 30, 2021

The sensitive fern – named due to its sensitivity to drought and frost – is a widespread species found throughout eastern North America and eastern Asia. It is a dimorphic plant because it has two distinct types of leaves – one for photosynthesis and one for reproduction. While most fern species in temperate regions produce and disperse their spores in the summer, the sensitive fern has an atypical timing of spore dispersal. In the early summer they produce heavily modified spore-bearing fronds (or leaves) with leaflets tightly enveloping their sporangia and spores. These fronds...

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Whole three-banded panther worm with muscle glowing in green. Image courtesy of Lorenzo Ricci

Harvard scientists take the study of regeneration to the next level by making three-banded panther worms transgenic

November 9, 2021

Three-banded panther worms are an incredibly impressive marine animal. Known scientifically as the acoel worm named Hofstenia miamia, these tiny animals that grow to only 500 micrometers can perform one of the greatest feats in the animal world, whole-body regeneration.

Remove Hofstenia miamia’s tail and it will grow another. Remove its head and another one, including everything from a mouth to the brain, will grow in its place. Cut the worm in three separate pieces and within eight weeks there’ll be three fully formed worms. Their power of...

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Left side of the skull of the dicynodont Dolichuranus from Tanzania. Photo by K. Angielczyk

Fossil dental exams reveal how tusks first evolved and why they are unique only to mammals

October 27, 2021

Most people picture an elephant when imagining animals with tusks. But many other animals have tusks including warthogs, hippopotamuses, Arctic-dwelling walruses, and even a five-pound, guinea pig looking animal called hyraxes. Though the size of the animal and their tusks can vary they all have one unique thing in common in that they are only found on mammals – there are no known fish, reptiles, or birds with tusks. Despite being an iconic feature of modern and fossil mammals the mystery remains of what evolutionary steps led to the development of this dental phenomenon and why are...

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