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

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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Another Early Toothed Bird Raises Its Head Paleontology Zoology 

Another Early Toothed Bird Raises Its Head

A team of paleontologists reveals new details about one of the most striking transformations in evolutionary history: a toothed bird. By Kate Stone Sometimes what you seek is right under your nose. Using fossils found in the 1870s, paleontologists have pieced together the skull of a toothed bird that represents a pivotal moment in the transition from dinosaurs to modern birds. “Right under our noses this whole time was an amazing, transitional bird.” Ichthyornis dispar is a key member of the evolutionary lineage that leads from dinosaurian species to today’s…

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Cooking, Evolution, and Brain Growth Anthropology STEM 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 Paleontology Science Videos STEM Education 

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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Ongoing Human Evolution Revealed in Data Biology Health 

Ongoing Human Evolution Revealed in Data

A research team at Columbia University has conducted a large-scale study of ongoing human evolution. Genetic data reveals how humans are evolving. By Kate Stone When I was about nine years old, a young schoolmate demanded to know, “If evolution is real, then why isn’t it happening now?” Being nine and not a biologist, I wasn’t prepared to answer this question. And yet, it was a question that I’ve heard echoes of in the years to follow. Now, a research team at Columbia University has conducted a large-scale study of…

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