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
We aren’t even sure if they are really alive, but, as Maryam Chaib de Mares explains, the distribution of viruses across the three domains of life (Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya) may reflect how viruses have shaped the evolution of cellular life.… Read More The evolutionary implications of viral life
You might have thought eusociality, an extreme form of cooperation that makes a colony of individuals verge on a superorganism, was just for ants and bees. As we learn more natural history, though, we see more and more examples. Here, Jack Boyle explains how scientists created artificial nests so they could observe the social habits of X. saxesenii, an ambrosia beetle normally concealed in tree trunks, to determine whether they meet the three eusociality criteria. … Read More Xyleborinus saxesenii, welcome to the eusociality club!
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. … Read More Polar bear genomics: a tale of rapid evolution
Phil Grayson explains how improvements in mitochondrial and nuclear genomics have rewritten what seemed like an open-and-shut case in the evolution of flightless birds. … Read More Ancient DNA from ancient birds: A tale of two palaeognathae papers