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Modern crocodile by Rutpratheep Nilpechr

Rapid evolution made ancient crocodile species more diverse

March 23, 2021

Ancient crocodiles were more diverse than modern crocodiles due to rapid evolution. Modern crocodiles live in river, lakes and wetlands, but ancient crocodiles flourished on land and in the oceans. Some even adopted dolphin-like adaptations to living in oceans, while others lived on land as plant eaters.

Stephanie Pierce, Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, co-authored the study in ...

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Little Skate

Mathematical framework unravels the simplicity of early walking in ancient vertebrates

March 17, 2021

In 2018 researchers from New York University found that little skates, which scuttle along the sea floor on two leg-like fins, use the same motor neurons and genes that help humans and other land vertebrates walk. The study’s findings suggested the neural networks required for walking may have been present in the common ancestor of skates and mammals about 420 million years ago. But how these ancient ancestors walked remained a mystery.

Postdoctoral researcher Fabio Giardina,...

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Fern Leaf by Jacob Suissa

Ferns in the mountains

February 16, 2021

Earth is home to millions of known species of plants and animals, but by no means are they distributed evenly. For instance, rainforests cover less than 2 percent of Earth's total surface, yet they are home to 50 percent of Earth's species. Oceans account for 71 percent of Earth's total surface but contain only 15 percent of Earth's species. What drives this uneven distribution of species on Earth is a major question for scientists.

In a paper published February 16 in the Journal of...

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Eumaeus atala by Nanfang Yu

Color is in the eye of the beholder

February 9, 2021

The colors in a flower patch appear completely different to a bear, a honeybee, a butterfly and humans. The ability to see these colors is generated by specific properties of opsins - light-sensitive proteins in the retina of our eyes. The number of opsins expressed and the molecular structure of the receptor proteins determines the colors we see.

In a paper published February 9 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences a team of researchers led by Harvard University develop...

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