DNA sequences with the potential to form unusual conformations, which are frequently associated with cancer and neurological diseases, can in fact slow down or speed up the DNA synthesis process and cause more or fewer sequencing errors.
Rising global sea levels may actually be beneficial to the long-term future of coral reef islands, such as the Maldives, according to new research published in Geophysical Research Letters. Low-lying coral reef islands are typically less than three metres above sea level, making them highly vulnerable to rising sea levels associated with climate change. However, research has found new evidence that the Maldives -- the world's lowest country -- formed when sea levels were higher than they are today.
Chinese scientists report the first cave-dwelling centipede so far known from southern China. Collected last year during a survey in Gaofeng village, Guizhou Province, the species turned out to not only had been successfully hiding away from biologists in the subterranean darkness, but that it also represented the first in its whole order to be discovered underground in the country. It is described in the open-access journal ZooKeys.
Today's birds descend from a small number of bird species living before the dinosaur extinction. Some of the birds that went extinct, the enantiornithines, were actually more common than and out-competed modern bird ancestors. Analysis of a newly described fossil, the most complete known from the Americas, demonstrates, too, that the enantiornithines were as agile and strong in flight as the ancestors of modern birds. Why, then, did enantiornithines die out and modern birds flourish?
A 75-million-year-old bird skeleton from a threatened national monument in Utah represents the most complete skeleton ever found in North America for a long-extinct group of birds called enantiornithines. This large, fossilized bird provides important new insight into the evolution of flight. It has several advanced adaptations for flying, which show that the Enantiornithes evolved these features separately from living birds.
This is the first known study to connect habitat with varying brain size in a single lake fish population. The finding may provide clues about how fish and other creatures will respond to mounting environmental stressors from pollution to climate change. Researchers say bigger brains contain more neurons, and more connections among them, that lend its owner cognitive and behavioural smarts that may help it adapt to new environments.
Plants have evolved ways to make ants defend them from attacks and spread their seeds, and this new study shows how it happened. In a new study breaking down the genetic history of 1,700 species of ants and 10,000 plant genera, researchers found that the long history of ant and plant co-evolution started with ants foraging on plants and plants responding by evolving ant-friendly traits.
Analysis of ancient DNA of a mysterious extinct monkey named Xenothrix -- which displays bizarre body characteristics very different to any living monkey -- has revealed that it was in fact most closely related to South America's titi monkeys (Callicebinae). Having made their way overwater to Jamaica, probably on floating vegetation, their bones reveal they subsequently underwent remarkable evolutionary change.
Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University have shown that the environment-driven evolution of a unique ovipositor in the female fruit fly Drosophila suzukii may have caused coevolution of the male genitalia; new features were found to cause mechanical incompatibility during reproduction with similar species, impeding crossbreeding and isolating the species. The dual role of the female genitalia was found to trigger coevolution and speciation, a generic pathway which may apply to many other organisms.
This experiment had a good chance of crashing. Instead, it delivered whopping evidence to coroborrate the earliest evolution of the translational system, the mechanisms which make life out of our genes. The study swapped out all its magnesium, tabula rasa, and showed that the system, centering on the ribosome, would have thrived basically as it is today 4 billion years ago at the earliest foundations of life on Earth.