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.
Largest quantitative study of howling, and first to use machine learning, defines different howl types and finds that wolves use these types more or less depending on their species, resembling a howling dialect. Researchers say findings could help conservation efforts and shed light on the earliest evolution of our own use of language.
New research shows wild Aegean wall lizards found on Greek islands choose to sit on rocks that better match their individual colouring. This improves camouflage and so reduces the risk of being attacked by birds when they sit out in the open, raising the intriguing question of how the lizards know what colour they are.
Latest research reveals why geckos are the largest animals able to scale smooth vertical walls – even larger climbers would require unmanageably large sticky footpads. Scientists estimate that a human would need adhesive pads covering 40% of their body surface in order to walk up a wall like Spider-Man, and believe their insights have implications for the feasibility of large-scale, gecko-like adhesives.