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Evolution, genetics, animal behaviour, conservation

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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.


Woolly mammoths suffered genomic meltdown

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

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.

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.


Penis bone evolved out of competition for mates

Our monogamous lifestyle may explain why humans, unlike many other mammals, lack a penis bone.

Ebndnk article
New Scientist

First evidence that wild mammals benefit from bigger brains

We pride ourselves on our big brains, but when it comes to figuring out whether people or other animals with particularly big brains do better than others, the evidence has been lacking.


Palaeoanthropology: Early burials had mutilation rituals

Ancient humans in South America used complex funeral rituals and manipulated the bodies of their dead as early as 10,000 years ago.

P04kthpl article

How a weird hybrid plant ended up on the flag of Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a city of contrasts: of new technology and old traditions, of high-rise buildings and stunning countryside, a hybrid between the East and the West. The territory's flag bears a flower whose past, and future, are just as complicated.

P04ftqcd article

The Natural World is Falling Silent

You can hear the climate changing. As the world warms, the soundtrack of the ocean is shifting.

In 2015, a US team of scientists and engineers reported that the loudest sound in some waters now comes from millions of tiny bubbles, which are released by melting glaciers and icebergs.

Claireasher mekongriverluangprabang article

A dam shame: the plight of the Mekong giant catfish

Rapid hydropower development in Southeast Asia is seriously threatening one of the World’s largest fish. Without quick action it could soon vanish.