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Eggs by Nicholas Blumhardt on Flickr

Overturning Evolutionary Doctrine

July 3, 2019

In a new study in Nature, Cassandra Extavour and her lab disprove an old hypothesis and prove a new one. Extavour says insects make up 80 percent of all animal species on Earth. She and PhD students, Sam Church, Seth Donoughe ('18), and Bruno de Medeiros analyzed a large data set to challenge the untested assumptions about egg size in insects. Across all insects, the team found...

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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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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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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