Plant Genome Evolution Research Botany 

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 Videos 

Proof of Evolution Is in Your DNA

Another great video from our friend Dr. Joe Hanson and the team at 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. 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. Dr. Joe Hanson, It’s Okay to Be Smart References…

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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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Biology Genetics 

Did Life On Earth Start as an RNA World?

By Emily Bentley You might not speak Latin, but you probably understand the concept of omnis cellula e cellula—all cells come from other cells. For several thousand years, many scholars endorsed the idea of spontaneous generation, which held that certain plants and animals are created whole from inorganic matter like dust, mud, or rotting meat. In 1668 this notion was disproved by Italian physician and biologist Francesco Redi. His experiments showed that maggots appeared only on meat that had been exposed to egg-laying flies, providing some of the first evidence…

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Animals Biology 

Seahorses Give a Whole New Meaning to “Dad Bod”

By Ive Velikova (@ScienceWithIve) Seahorses give a whole new meaning to the term “dad bod.” You see, they are one of the only animals species in which the males get pregnant and give birth. Let’s start with the basics. In biology, members of the species that produce sperm are generally classified as “male,” and members of the species that produce eggs are classified as “female.” Eggs are larger and more energetically costly to produce than sperm. They also contain materials and nutrients necessary for embryo growth once the eggs are…

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Neoteny: Why do Disney princesses look like babies? Biology Education Science & Art 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 Twitter: @DrJoeHanson @okaytobesmart Instagram: @DrJoeHanson…

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How Squids Lost Their Shells Animals Biology Videos 

Squids’ Shells: From Armor, to Vehicle, to Ghost

Shells made their first appearance between 635 and 541 million years ago, especially after the first predators had shown up. How have cephalopods’ shells evolved from armors to means of transportation? How have they adapted to further suit these animals’ needs? Watch this video from the PBS Eons series. The ancestors of modern, squishy cephalopods like the octopus and the squid all had shells. Shells helped mollusks move through water, giving them an advantage over similar animals without a shell. Over time, some cephalopods internalized their shell like a backbone, some…

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Cooking, Evolution, and Brain Growth Anthropology Education 

Cooking, Evolution, and Brain Growth

Cooking establishes the difference between animals and people. In fact, we’re not the only social animals that sit down to eat together, but we are the only ones who cook. But how is cooking linked to human brain’s growth and evolution? This is a video from Dr. Joe Hanson’s It’s Okay To Be Smart series. Cooking helped humans strengthen social bonds and cooperation. Although our brain uses one-fifth of the calories that we eat, we spend only 5 percent of our daily lives eating, while Chimpanzees and Gorillas spend more than half…

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Why Do Humans Have Thumbs and Not Fins? Biology Education Paleontology Videos 

Why Do Humans Have Thumbs and Not Fins?

Did you know we can trace the evolution of our hands, and thumbs, back to a 375 million-year-old fish called Tiktaalik? Watch this video with paleontologist and geneticist Dr. Neil Shubin to learn what a fish and a little blue hedgehog can teach us about the evolution of thumbs. This is a video from Dr. Joe Hanson’s It’s Okay To Be Smart series.     Tiktaalik is a 375 years-old fish with fins. When we look under its fin rays and take off the scales, what we find are versions of our…

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