Category Archives: Latest on Evolution

Evolution of Testes: Molecular Vestiges

The loss of anatomical features is a frequent evolutionary event. For example, humans and other great apes have lost their tail and whales have lost their legs. The most convincing evidence comes from the presence of vestiges in fossils. Unfortunately, the fossil record preserves predominantly vestiges of hard structures such as bones or teeth. Consequently,…
Read more

Two new creatures discovered from dawn of animal life

Earth's first complex animals were an eclectic bunch that lived in the shallow oceans between 580-540 million years ago. The iconic Dickinsonia -- large flat animals with a quilt-like appearance -- were joined by tube-shaped organisms, frond-like creatures that looked more like plants, and several dozen other varieties already characterized by scientists. Add to that list two…
Read more

Genome structure of dinosaurs discovered by bird-turtle comparisons

A discovery by scientists at the University of Kent has provided significant insight into the overall genome structure of dinosaurs. By comparing the genomes of different species, chiefly birds and turtles, the Kent team were able to determine how the overall genome structure (i.e. the chromosomes) of many people's favourite dinosaur species -- like Velociraptor…
Read more

Ancient skull shows early ‘baleen whale’ had teeth

Today's baleen whales (Mysticetes) support their massive bodies by filtering huge volumes of small prey from seawater using comb-like baleen in their mouths much like a sieve. But new evidence reported in the journal Current Biology on May 10 based on careful analysis of a 34-million-year-old whale skull from Antarctica -- the second-oldest "baleen" whale ever found…
Read more

Jurassic fossil tail tells of missing link in crocodile family tree

A 180-million-year-old fossil has shed light on how some ancient crocodiles evolved into dolphin-like animals. The specimen -- featuring a large portion of backbone -- represents a missing link in the family tree of crocodiles, and was one of the largest coastal predators of the Jurassic Period, researchers say. The newly discovered species was nearly…
Read more

New new genus and species of extinct baleen whale identified

University of Otago palaeontologists are rewriting the history of New Zealand's ancient whales by describing a previously unknown genus of baleen whale, alive more than 27.5 million years ago and found in the Hakataramea Valley. The new genus and species of extinct baleen whale is based on a skull and associated bones unearthed from the…
Read more

Mutating DNA caught on film

DNA mutations cause tumor cells to grow out of control, but they also generate variety that enables organisms to adapt to their environments and evolve. Until now, biologists have only had crude methods for estimating the average rates and effects of mutations. But in a new study, biophysicists have documented individual mutations as they happen in bacterial cells.…
Read more

Orcas are first non-humans whose evolution is driven by culture

You could call it a culture shock. Many researchers accept that cultural experiences have helped shape human evolution – and evidence has now emerged that the same may be true of killer whales. Human genomes have evolved in response to our cultural behaviours: a classic example is the way that some human populations gained genes for…
Read more