We tend to view sexual selection as secondary to natural selection, but nothing is second to the imperative to reproduce. Sometimes that means that even precisely engineered traits like echolocation have room to be a little sexier. Could falsetto calls really be a signal of male quality in the Mehelyi’s horseshoe bat? … Read More Are male bats actually making echolocation harder to impress the ladies?
Recently, 40+ bird genomes were sequenced, and we are still just beginning to sift through the data. How did birds lose their teeth? (Yes, teeth.) How did they evolve to learn complex songs? Has flying made their genomes smaller? Get the scoop from Allison Schultz. … Read More Bird Genomes: Winging our way
External genitalia are an important adaptation to life on the land, where eggs may dry out and there is no water for sperm to swim through. Reptiles, birds, and mammals have extremely diverse external genitalia, but they share a common evolutionary and developmental origin. Mara Laslo explains how comparative developmental studies are shedding insight on the development of these remarkable organs. … Read More When two become one: the evolution and development of external genitalia on land
The dog is the only large carnivore that has been fully domesticated and one the few domesticated animals that was not kept primarily for food. Despite their widespread adoption into human cultures today, relatively little is known about the early events in the history of dog domestication. When and where did dogs originally become domesticated? Russ Corbett-Detig explains. … Read More Man’s best friend– since when?
By David Fronk 1, 2, 3, shoot! Joe threw paper, Jane scissors, and you stuck with trusty rock. For the umpteenth time, you repeat the ritual in the hopes someone will deviate from their norms and break the cycle. 1, 2, 3, shoot! Same results. With each of you competing against each other, the stalemate… Read More Real-life rock-paper-scissors
Frivolous as it may sound to us, making pretty flowers is serious business for a plant. Fancier flowers often mean more attention from pollinators and greater reproductive success, and the huge diversity of flowers around today shows that the evolution of new flower types has paid off. But how can plants afford to experiment with such an important developmental process? As Becky Povilus explains, they do and they don’t. … Read More That’s Bananas!—How flowers get fancier
The orb-weaving spiders build webs so spectacular and bizarre that it seemed they must also be one-of-a-kind. As Tauana Junqueira Cunha explains, modern phylogenetic techniques have now unraveled a tangled web of data to reveal the true story.… Read More Untangling the spider’s web