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      Life on Earth evolved from a universal common ancestor approximately 3.8 billion years ago...

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Charles Darwin

Evolution / Charles Darwin

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Evolution is the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA andproteins.

Life on Earth evolved from a universal common ancestor approximately 3.8 billion years ago. Repeated speciation and the divergence of life can be inferred from shared sets of biochemical and morphological traits, or by shared DNA sequences. These homologous traits and sequences are more similar among species that share a more recent common ancestor, and can be used...

New dinosaur fossil challenges bird flight origins theories

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Reconstruction of Eosinopteryx. (Credit: Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences)

Jan. 24, 2013 — The discovery of a new bird-like dinosaur from the Jurassic period challenges widely accepted theories on the origin of flight.

Co-authored by Dr Gareth Dyke, Senior Lecturer in Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Southampton, the paper describes a new feathered dinosaur about 30 cm in length which pre-dates bird-like dinosaurs that birds were long...

Brain of ampelosaur from Cuenca (Spain) revealed

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Photographs of the braincase of the titanosaurian sauropod Ampelosaurus sp. (MCCM-HUE-8741) from the Cretaceous of Fuentes, Spain. In dorsal (A), ventral (B), rostral (C), caudal (D), and left lateral (E) views. Abbreviations: BO, basioccipital; BS, basisphenoid; EO-OP, exoccipital-opisthotic/otoccipital; F, frontal; LS, laterosphenoid; OS, orbitosphenoid; P, parietal; PR, prootic; SO, supraoccipital. Scale bar equals 5 cm. (Credit: Knoll et al. Neurocranial Osteology and Neuroanatomy...

A snapshot of pupfish evolution

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The adaptive landscape shows how changing physical features, such as jaw shape, are related to survival. (Credit: Chris Martin/UC Davis Graphic)

Chris Martin has bred more than 3,000 hybrid fish in his time as a graduate student in evolution and ecology at UC Davis, a pursuit that has helped him create one of the most comprehensive snapshots of natural selection in the wild and demonstrated a key prediction in evolutionary biology.

"We can see a surprisingly complex snapshot of...

First fossil bird with teeth specialized for tough diet

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Photograph of Sulcavis geeorum skull, a fossil bird from the Early Cretaceous (120 million-years-ago) of Liaoning Province, China with scale bar in millimeters. (Credit: Photograph by Stephanie Abramowicz)

Beak shape variation in Darwin's finches is a classic example of evolutionary adaptation, with beaks that vary widely in proportions and shape, reflecting a diversity of ecologies. While living birds have a beak to manipulate their food, their fossil bird ancestors had teeth. Now a...

Major source of evolutionary differences among species uncovered

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Wild Chimpanzee. (Credit: © UryadnikovS / Fotolia)

Dec. 20, 2012 — University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine researchers have uncovered a genetic basis for fundamental differences between humans and other vertebrates that could also help explain why humans are susceptible to diseases not found in other species.

Scientists have wondered why vertebrate species, which look and behave very differently from one another, nevertheless share very similar repertoires of genes. For...

Origin of life: Hypothesis traces first protocells back to emergence of cell membrane bioenergetics

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A major new hypothesis outlines a coherent pathway that starts from no more than rocks, water and carbon dioxide and leads to the emergence of the strange bio-energetic properties of living cells. (Credit: iStockphoto/Henrik Jonsson)

A coherent pathway -- which starts from no more than rocks, water and carbon dioxide and leads to the emergence of the strange bio-energetic properties of living cells -- has been traced for the first time in a major hypothesis paper in Cell this...

Resurrection of extinct enzymes reveals evolutionary strategy for the invention of new functions

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Duplication events and changes in specificity and activity in evolution of S. cerevisiae MalS enzymes. Gene duplications occur frequently during evolution and are important drivers of functional innovation. The MalS enzyme family in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a family of fungal metabolic enzymes that all originated from the same ancestral gene through repeated duplications. Resurrection of key ancestral enzymes allowed tracking of the changes in activity that happened during...

Reconstruction of prehistoric DNA refutes criticism on theory of evolution

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Dec. 11, 2012 — Scientists from VIB, KU Leuven, UGent and Harvard have succeeded in reconstructing DNA and proteins from prehistoric yeast cells. This made it possible to determine how genes developed and evolved into their current form over more than 100 million years.

Kevin Verstrepen (VIB/KU Leuven) said: "These results provide answers to an argument frequently used by opponents of the theory of evolution: the chance of the occurrence of a new characteristic -a functional new...

Emergence of flowering plants: New light shed on Darwin's 'abominable mystery'

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This figure shows the shift from ferns (blue), conifers (red) and other gymnosperms (orange) to angiosperms (green) in various aquatic environments between 130 million and 84 million years ago. (Credit: Image courtesy of Indiana University)

 Research by Indiana University paleobotanist David L. Dilcher and colleagues in Europe sheds new light on what Charles Darwin famously called "an abominable mystery": the apparently sudden appearance and rapid spread of flowering plants in the...

Origin of intelligence and mental illness linked to ancient genetic accident

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Scientists have discovered for the first time how humans -- and other mammals -- have evolved to have intelligence. (Credit: © James Steidl / Fotolia)

1000pa (Dec. 2, 2012) — Scientists have discovered for the first time how humans -- and other mammals -- have evolved to have intelligence.

Researchers have identified the moment in history when the genes that enabled us to think and reason evolved.

This point 500 million years ago provided our...

Researcher tests powerful new tool to advance ecology, conservation

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1000pa (Nov. 28, 2012) — A new University of Florida study shows ecologists may have been missing crucial information from animal bones for more than 150 years.

The study featured on the cover of the November issue of Ecology shows animal bone remains provide high-quality geographical data across an extensive time frame. The research may be used to identify regions of habitat for the conservation of threatened species.

Charles Darwin first noted the importance of studying...

Human genetic variation recent, varies among populations

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Nearly three-quarters of mutations in genes that code for proteins -- the workhorses of the cell -- occurred within the past 5,000 to 10,000 years, fairly recently in evolutionary terms. (Credit: © Alx / Fotolia)

1000pa (Nov. 28, 2012) — Nearly three-quarters of mutations in genes that code for proteins -- the workhorses of the cell -- occurred within the past 5,000 to 10,000 years, fairly recently in evolutionary terms, said a national consortium of genomic and...

For some feathered dinosaurs, bigger not always better

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This scale illustration shows size of feathered theropod herbivores compared to humans. (Credit: Lindsay Zanno, NC State and NC Museum of Natural Sciences)

1000pa (Nov. 27, 2012) — Every kid knows that giant carnivores like Tyrannosaurus rex dominated the Cretaceous period, but they weren't the only big guys in town. Giant plant-eating theropods -- close relatives of both T. rex and today's birds -- also lived and thrived alongside their meat-eating cousins. Now...

Evolutionary mode routinely varies amongst morphological traits within fossil species lineages

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1000pa (Nov. 26, 2012) — What happens when the modern evolutionary theory of punctuated equilibrium collides with the older theory of mosaic evolution? Part of the answer comes from a new, wide-ranging study by paleobiologists Melanie J Hopkins at the Museum fuer Naturkunde Berlin and Scott Lidgard at the Field Museum in Chicago. Their results are published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

While processes of evolution are largely studied...

New evidence on dinosaurs' role in evolution of bird flight

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An artist’s impression of what the Archaeopteryx lithographica would have looked like in flight. (Credit: Image by artist Carl Buel)

1000pa (Nov. 21, 2012) — A new study looking at the structure of feathers in bird-like dinosaurs has shed light on one of nature's most remarkable inventions -- how flight might have evolved.

Academics at the Universities of Bristol, Yale and Calgary have shown that prehistoric birds had a much more primitive version of...

Meet Xenoceratops: Canada's newest horned dinosaur

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Artist reconstruction of Canada's oldest ceratopsid, Xenoceratops foremostensis (Zee-NO-Sare-ah-tops), from southern Alberta 78 million years ago. The new species of horned dinosaur was identified from fossils originally collected in 1958. Approximately 20 feet long and weighing more than 2 tons, the newly identified plant-eating dinosaur represents the oldest known large-bodied horned dinosaur from Canada. Research describing the new species is published in the October 2012 issue of...

Were dinosaurs destined to be big? Testing Cope's rule

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In the evolutionary long run, small critters tend to evolve into bigger beasts -- at least according to the idea attributed to paleontologist Edward Cope, now known as Cope's Rule. Using the latest advanced statistical modeling methods, a new test of this rule as it applies dinosaurs shows that Cope was right -- sometimes. (Credit: © Derrick Neill / Fotolia)

1000pa (Nov. 2, 2012) — In the evolutionary long run, small critters tend to evolve into bigger beasts --...

New study shows effects of prehistoric nocturnal life on mammalian vision

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Eagle Owl, Bubo bubo. (Credit: © Kletr / Fotolia)

1000pa (Oct. 31, 2012) — Since the age of dinosaurs, most species of day-active mammals have retained the imprint of nocturnal life in their eye structures. Humans and other anthropoid primates, such as monkeys and apes, are the only groups that deviate from this pattern, according to a new study from The University of Texas at Austin and Midwestern University.

The findings, published in a forthcoming...

Exhaustive family tree for birds shows recent, rapid diversification

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Analysis of the family tree shows when and where birds diversified — and that birds’ diversification rate has increased over the last 50 million years, challenging the conventional wisdom of biodiversity experts. (Credit: Image courtesy of Yale University)

1000pa (Oct. 31, 2012) — A Yale-led scientific team has produced the most comprehensive family tree for birds to date, connecting all living bird species -- nearly 10,000 in total -- and revealing...

First ever family tree for all living birds reveals evolution and diversification

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Experts used the family tree to map out where the almost 10,000 species of birds live to show where the most diversification has taken place in the world. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Sheffield)

1000pa (Oct. 31, 2012) — The world's first family tree linking all living bids and revealing when and where they evolved and diversified since dinosaurs walked the Earth has been created.

Experts used the family tree to map out where the almost 10,000...

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Book review

Dinosaurs Encyclopedia

Book Review

Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages ... WRITTEN BY A PROFESSIONAL paleontologist specifically for young readers, this guide to the Dinosauria is packed...