Beer, snowflakes, and the origins of life

The craft beer movement gave rise to an immense diversity of brews. From porters and pale ales to dubels and dunkels, there is a seemingly infinite supply of tasty adult beverages to enjoy. Even within the ales, beer drinkers can choose among ambers, blondes, browns, coffees, and creams. Each of these brews is defined by … Continue reading Beer, snowflakes, and the origins of life

Marine mammals and the legacy of gene loss: evolutionary biology informs policy

Life began in the water.  Microbes swarmed around in primordial ooze, banded together to form multicellular organisms, and eventually grew complex enough to leave their watery homes and become the terrestrial animals that exist today.  Some of those land-dwelling creatures became mammals, and in a surprising twist, three separate lineages of ancient mammals then returned … Continue reading Marine mammals and the legacy of gene loss: evolutionary biology informs policy

New firefly breeding patterns light the way for changes in color vision

A staple of warm summer nights, fireflies have charmed generations with their magical evening glow. Children setting out to capture them in jars can tell you the trick is to catch sight of each flash of light as the bugs fly around. What we might not realize as children is that fireflies emit their greenish … Continue reading New firefly breeding patterns light the way for changes in color vision

When two become one: the evolution and development of external genitalia on land

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.