Category Archives: Latest on Evolution

Microbes evolved to colonize different parts of the human body

As the human species evolved over the last six million years, our resident microbes did the same, adapting to vastly different conditions on our skin and in our mouths, noses, genitalia and guts. A team of Duke University scientists has tracked how this microbial evolution unfolded, using mathematical tools originally developed for geologists. The scientists…
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Metabolism may be older than life itself and start spontaneously

A set of chemical reactions occurring spontaneously in Earth’s early chemical environments could have provided the foundations upon which life evolved. The discovery that a version of the Krebs cycle, which occurs in most living cells, can proceed in the absence of cellular proteins called enzymes suggests that metabolism is older than life itself. Metabolism…
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A Break in the Search for the Origin of Complex Life

In Norse mythology, humans and our world were created by a pantheon of gods who lived in the realm of Asgard. As it turns out, these stories have a grain of truth to them.Thanks to a team of scientists led by Thijs Ettema, Asgard is now also the name of a large clan of microbes.…
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All 2.3 Million Species Are Mapped into a Single Circle of Life

Since Charles Darwin's day, biologists have depicted how new organisms evolve from old ones by adding branches to numerous trees that represent portions of the animal, plant and microbial kingdoms. Researchers from a dozen institutions recently completed a three-year effort to combine tens of thousands of trees into one diagram, most readable as a circle…
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Biologists watch speciation in a laboratory flask

Biologists have discovered that the evolution of a new species can occur rapidly enough for them to observe the process in a simple laboratory flask. In a month-long experiment using a virus harmless to humans, biologists working at the University of California San Diego and at Michigan State University documented the evolution of a virus…
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A newly made RNA strand bolsters ideas about how life on Earth began

A fundamental property of life is the ability to replicate itself. Researchers have now created the first molecules of RNA, DNA’s singled-stranded relative, that are capable of copying almost any other RNAs. The discovery bolsters the widely held view among researchers who study the origin of life that RNA likely preceded DNA as the central…
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Our last common ancestor inhaled hydrogen from underwater volcanoes

The chemical chain of events that led to the origin of life on Earth is likely forever lost to the mists of time. But some of our earliest ancestors—including the microbial Eve from which all modern cells descended—left behind traces in the genes they passed to their descendants. To track these shared genes, geneticists have…
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Fish may have evolved to live on land more than 30 times

The first fish that stepped onto land more than 350 million years ago wasn’t a fluke. Our ocean friends may have evolved the ability to come out of the water at least 30 times over the ages, according to a new study of the diversity of amphibious fish alive today. The work highlights the factors…
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