Parasitic plant: Dodder (Cuscutta) Photo by BCGX via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0) Biology Botany 

Parasitic Plant Has Edge in Evolutionary Arms Race

By Cameron Duke (@DukeofCam) The relationship between a parasite and its host can be a contentious one. Their interests are in direct conflict with one another, so each is always trying to circumvent the other’s plan. This is often thought of as an evolutionary “arms race.” In this ongoing competition, a parasite evolves a more efficient way to prey on the host, and the host adapts in response. These successive adaptations can lead to complex life cycles and intimate species-specific relationships.  New research out of Penn State, conducted by Michael…

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Plant Genome Biology Botany Genetics 

Genome Revelations: How Green Plants Evolved

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) Plants are ancestral organisms that have evolved over millions of years, leading to the broad diversity we see today. Green plants evolved from a common ancestor into approximately 450,000–500,000 species today. There are many gaps in understanding of their diversification that scientists still struggle to fill. In a recent paper published in Nature, researchers from the One Thousand Plant Transcriptomes Initiative reviewed and analyzed genomic data from 1,124 plant species and provided the most complete evolutionary relationship tree for green plants to date. Genomes, transcriptomes, and…

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Proof of evolution is in your DNA Anthropology Biology Education Genetics Science Videos 

Proof of Evolution Is in Your DNA

Another great video from our friend Dr. Joe Hanson and the team behind the video series It’s Okay to Be Smart, brought to you by PBS Digital Studios. This time, we’re looking at the proof of evolution that’s embedded right there in our DNA. According to Dr. Hanson, “Humans are special, and we got that way thanks to evolution and natural selection. The proof is right there in our bodies! From anatomy to genes, here are some stories of how you got to be the way you are.” Evolution of…

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Botany Ecology Environment 

An Evolutionary Approach to Conserving Plant Habitats

By Mackenzie Myers (@thetiniestnail) To conserve plant habitats, a traditional approach to biodiversity—species richness, or saving as many species as possible—might not be the most effective route. Instead, vulnerable landscapes might be better served by a quality-over-quantity mindset, a recent paper from a team of UC Berkeley scientists suggests. Think of going into a grocery store. On a budget and with limited cooking time, shoppers probably don’t buy the first dozen random ingredients they see on the shelf. Rather, they find it more practical to shop deliberately, perhaps by looking…

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Astronomy Chemistry Paleontology 

Exploding Stars and Life on Earth

By Brian C. Thomas (@DrBrianAstroBio) A massive star that exploded near Earth about 2.5 million years ago—a supernova—may have helped drive the megalodon to extinction and may even have affected human evolution. Research by an international team of scientists and I have produced the most detailed picture ever of just how such a scenario played out. We’ve combined observations from astrophysics and geochemistry with new computer simulations to explore all the possible effects that life on Earth may have experienced. We’ve found that ozone in the atmosphere could have been…

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Neoteny: Why do Disney princesses look like babies? Biology Education Science and Art Science Videos 

Neoteny: Why Disney Princesses Look Like Babies

Neoteny, Evolution, and Disney Our friend Dr. Joe Hanson from It’s Okay to Be Smart (PBS Digital Studios) goes full science nerd on neoteny, Disney princesses, and evolution. I noticed something weird about Disney Princesses lately. Naturally, I had to examine it through the lens of science. The answer led me to new knowledge about human development, the domestication and taming of animals, and why we find things cute in the first place. You’ll never look at cartoons the same way again. –Joe Hanson, PhD [tweetthis]It’s time to go full…

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