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Evolution, genetics, animal behaviour, conservation

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Wheat genome surrenders its genetic secrets

Scientists have built the most accurate wheat genome map yet, and discovered thousands of new genes.

Caterpillarplastic article

This caterpillar can digest plastic

Wax-moth larvae could inspire biotechnological methods for degrading plastic.

The Scientist

Does Farming Drive Fish Disease?

Intensive aquaculture favors increasingly virulent forms of certain fish-infecting parasites and pathogens, studies show.

Cuttlefishrh article

Cuttlefish change skin texture to blend in

The masters of marine masquerade can morph from rough to smooth in less than a second.


Illegal bushmeat trade threatens human health and great apes

Great apes and other wildlife are hunted and eaten as bushmeat across Central Africa, threatening dwindling populations and spreading disease, such as Ebola.

P04xk9hy article

How the Tasmanian devil has responded to infectious cancers

The name "Tasmanian devil" may bring up images of cartoon tornados and scattered debris. The Warner Brothers character Taz was portrayed as dim-witted, destructive and wacky. But real Tasmanian devils are anything but.

Tasmanian devil populations have been decimated by a contagious cancer for decades, but they are finally showing signs of fighting back.


Evolution: Beetles repeatedly evolved mimicry

Over the course of many millions of years, members of one beetle family have evolved to impersonate army ants at least a dozen separate times, adding to evidence that evolution is more predictable than once thought.

Plantfossil article

Evolution: Oldest plant fossils found

The first plants lived on Earth some 400 million years earlier than the fossil record suggested.

Fossils of the earliest multicellular algae — which are closely related to the ancestors of modern plants — are rare and, until now, the most ancient specimen was around 1.2 billion years old.


Woolly mammoths suffered genomic meltdown

Before going extinct, the last mammoths accumulated harmful genetic mutations that may have altered their behaviour and appearance.

Squirrel article

Alien species are accelerating their march across the globe

Invasive species, from feral pigs to Japanese knotweed, can devastate ecosystems. They damage crops, clog rivers, and cost farmers and homeowners billions of dollars to control each year. Now, the first-ever look at just how quickly these species have spread reveals more bad news: Since 1800, the rate at which alien species have been reported around the world has skyrocketed, with almost 40% of them discovered since 1970.


Ecology: Parasite controls another wasp

A newly discovered wasp can increase its own chance of survival by infecting another parasitic wasp and controlling its mind.


How humans adapt to arsenic

People living in Chile’s Atacama Desert have different versions of a gene that allow them to cope with the region’s naturally high levels of toxic arsenic.


Climate change makes birds less sexy

Warming of the spring breeding season has reversed the direction of natural selection in a bird species.


Ants look forward to navigate backwards

Ants can find their way home even when forced to walk backwards while carrying food, showing that they are capable of complex navigational behaviour.


Ecology: Invasive wild pigs spread across US

Eurasian wild pigs transmit disease and destroy crops in the United States, and are expected to spread throughout the country in the coming decades.