Tag: biology

  • Reverse evolution 2.

    Reverse evolution 2.

    Turtle ant soldiers scuttle to and from sporting shiny, adorably oversized heads, which they use to block the entrances of their nests — essentially acting as living doors. Not all heads are shaped alike: some soldiers have ones that resemble manhole covers and perfectly seal tunnel entrances. Others have square heads, which they assemble into […]

  • Inevitable life. Inevitable death…

    Inevitable life. Inevitable death…

    To help answer one of the great existential questions — how did life begin? — a study combines biological and cosmological models. Professor Tomonori Totani from the Department of Astronomy looked at how life’s building blocks could spontaneously form in the universe — a process known as abiogenesis. As the only life we know of […]

  • Evolution. Dark DNA.

    Evolution. Dark DNA.

    Scientists long assumed that new genes appear when evolution tinkers with old ones. There are studies suggesting that genes do not always evolve from existing ones, as biologists long supposed. Instead, some are fashioned from desolate stretches of the genome that do not code for any functional molecules. For example in the fish genomes, there […]

  • Why doesn’t any animal have three legs?

    Why doesn’t any animal have three legs?

    If ‘Why?’ is the first question in science, ‘Why not?’ must be a close second. Sometimes it’s worth thinking about why something does not exist. Such as a truly three-legged animal. At least one researcher has been pondering the non-existence of tripeds. “Almost all animals are bilateral,” he said. The code for having two sides […]

  • Touching the untouched.

    Touching the untouched.

    Jellyfish are about 95% water, which makes them very difficult to study because most of the underwater tools available to marine biologists are clunky, heavy, and often shred jellyfish and other delicate creatures to pieces. A new ultra-soft gripper uses fettuccini-like ‘fingers’ inflated with water to gently grasp jellyfish and release them without harm, allowing […]