Tiny chompers: How a baby Cichlid behavior influences an adaptive trait

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

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Why the horned lizard has horns: More than a just-so story

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

Love stings: Sexual selection on wasp spots

Sexual selection has resulted in some of the most flamboyant and outrageous ornaments in the natural world. The flashy plumes of the peacock tail, regal fringe of the lion’s mane, and vibrant colors of the agamid lizard all advertise males’ merits as mates to females. Although sexually selected traits are regularly observed in mammals, birds, … Continue reading Love stings: Sexual selection on wasp spots

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.

Man’s best friend– since when?

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.