Just as we exploit social media to self-promote, find mates, and flaunt social status, animals use visual, olfactory, auditory, or mechanical displays to communicate with one another. Like a Facebook status, these displays often communicate some internal attribute about the organism. A well-known example of this type of signaling is the vibrant tail-feathers of the … Continue reading I’m looking at the fish in the mirror: a tail of social signaling
Think of a trait, any trait. A bird beak, a butterfly wing, a fish fin. Highly coordinated gene expression networks ultimately produce all traits. Hence, any variation you see in these traits must be due to shifts in gene expression, whether that shift is determined genetically or by some external cue. Evolutionary developmental biologists want … Continue reading Tiny chompers: How a baby Cichlid behavior influences an adaptive trait
Shrikes are basically nature’s version of Vlad the Impaler. While less gory birds feed on nuts and others peck at insects, shrikes impale their prey onto sharp spikes. Once the unfortunate animal is firmly attached and appropriately subdued, shrikes then tear their prey apart. The result is an array of dismantled corpses of lizards, small … Continue reading Why the horned lizard has horns: More than a just-so story
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.
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.
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.
What makes a polar bear a polar bear? Allison Shultz explains that the difference between polar bears and their cousins, the brown bears, is more than skin deep.