A symbiotic relationship that has existed since the time of the dinosaurs is at risk of ending, as habitat loss and environmental change mean that a species of Australian crayfish and the tiny worms that depend on them are both at serious risk of extinction.
Latest research suggests a new mechanism for how sexual displays of red beaks and plumage might be ‘honest signals’ of mate quality, as genes that convert yellow dietary pigments into red share cofactors with enzymes that aid detoxification – hinting that redness is a genetic sign of the ability to better metabolise harmful substances.
A study of butterflies suggests that when a species adapts, other parts of its genetic make-up can be linked to that adaptation, limiting diversity in the population.
The flexible physiology of Barbary macaques in responding to extreme environmental conditions of their natural habitat may help shed light on the mechanisms that allowed our ancestors to thrive outside Africa, say researchers. New study also presents the first evidence for male primates boosting their metabolic physiology for mating.
Latest analysis shows that human limbs share a genetic programme with the gills of cartilaginous fishes such as sharks and skates, providing evidence to support a century-old theory on the origin of limbs that had been widely discounted.
Giles Yeo (MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit) discusses the origins of lactose intolerance.
The earliest example of an organism living on land – an early type of fungus – has been identified. The organism, from 440 million years ago, likely kick-started the process of rot and soil formation, which encouraged the later growth and diversification of life on land.
A 520 million-year-old fossilised nervous system – so well-preserved that individually fossilised nerves are visible – is the most complete and best example yet found, and could help unravel how the nervous system evolved in early animals.
Javier Ortega-Hernández (Department of Zoology) discusses what the discovery of the earliest known fossilised nervous system could tell us about evolution.
Professor Nick Davies, who gives this week’s Darwin Lecture, has been studying reed warblers for more than 30 years – and has unlocked many of the secrets of their interactions with the cuckoo. His work shines light on the evolutionary games played out in nature as species compete with environmental pressures, with other species, and with the opposite sex, to pass on their genes.