Current Common Ancestor News and Events

Current Common Ancestor News and Events, Common Ancestor News Articles.
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Wolves, dogs and dingoes, oh my
Dogs are generally considered the first domesticated animal, while its ancestor is generally considered to be the wolf, but where the Australian dingo fits into this framework is still debated, according to a retired Penn State anthropologist. (2021-02-17)

Evolution's game of rock-paper-scissors
A group of scientists at Lehigh University led by Gregory Lang, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has recently provided empirical evidence that evolution can be nontransitive. Lang and his team identify a nontransitive evolutionary sequence through a 1,000-generation yeast evolution experiment. In the experiment, an evolved clone outcompetes a recent ancestor but loses in direct competition with a distant ancestor. (2021-02-16)

Not a living fossil: How the Coelacanth recently evolved dozens of new genes
The research shows the dramatic effect traveling DNA can have on the creation of genes and provide a glimpse into some of the forces that shaped the genome of one of the most ancient and mysterious organisms. (2021-02-09)

Can a fin become a limb?
Researchers at Harvard and Boston Children's Hospital examine what's happening at genetic level to drive patterns in fin skeleton versus limb skeleton and find mutants with modified fins in a more limb-like pattern by adding new bones, complete with muscles and joints. The results reveal the ability to form limb-like structures was present in the common ancestor of tetrapods and teleost fishes and has been retained in a latent state which can be activated by genetic changes. (2021-02-04)

Surprising new research: We're more like primitive fishes than once believed
People traditionally think that lungs and limbs are key innovations that came with the vertebrate transition from water to land. But in fact, the genetic basis of air-breathing and limb movement was already established in our fish ancestor 50 million years earlier. This, according to a recent genome mapping of primitive fish conducted by the University of Copenhagen, among others. The new study changes our understanding of a key milestone in our own evolutionary history. (2021-02-04)

Genetics study finds ancestral background can affect Alzheimer's disease risk
Genetics contributes to the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, and the APOE gene is the strongest genetic risk factor, specifically the APOE4 allele. However, it has been known for a while that the risk due to the APOE4 allele differs considerably across populations, with Europeans having a greater risk from the APOE4 allele than Africans and African Americans. (2021-02-03)

To find the right network model, compare all possible histories
Scientists rarely have the historical data they need to see exactly how nodes in a network became connected. But a new paper in Physical Review Letters offers hope for reconstructing the missing information, using a new method to evaluate the rules that generate network models. (2021-01-25)

New antifungal compound from ant farms
Attine ants are farmers, and they grow fungus as food. Pseudonocardia and Streptomyces bacteria are their farmhands, producing metabolites that protect the crop from pathogens. Surprisingly, these metabolites lack common structural features across bacteria from different geographic locations, even though the ants share a common ancestor. Now, researchers report in ACS Central Science they have identified the first shared antifungal compound among many of these bacteria across Brazil. The compound could someday have medical applications. (2021-01-20)

Deep sleep takes out the trash
By examining fruit flies' brain activity and behavior, the researchers found that deep sleep has an ancient, restorative power to clear waste from the brain. This waste potentially includes toxic proteins that may lead to neurodegenerative disease. (2021-01-20)

CCNY's David Lohman finds Asian butterfly mimics different species as defense mechanism
Many animal and insect species use Batesian mimicry - mimicking a poisonous species - as a defense against predators. The common palmfly, Elymnias hypermnestra (a species of satyrine butterfly), which is found throughout wide areas of tropical and subtropical Asia, adds a twist to this evolutionary strategy: the females evolved two distinct forms, either orange or dark brown, imitating two separate poisonous model species, Danaus or Euploea. (2021-01-14)

Asian butterfly mimics other species to defend against predators
Many animal and insect species use Batesian mimicry -- mimicking a poisonous species -- as a defense against predators. The common palmfly Elymnias hypermnestra -- a species of satyrine butterfly that is found throughout wide areas of tropical and subtropical Asia -- adds a twist to this evolutionary strategy. (2021-01-13)

Fossils' soft tissues helping to solve puzzle that vexed Darwin
Remarkably well-preserved fossils are helping scientists unravel a mystery about the origins of early animals that puzzled Charles Darwin. (2021-01-12)

Genomes reveal insights into much-loved Aussie animals
Researchers have brought together expertise in bioinformatics, cytogenetics, developmental and molecular biology to produce and analyse the first ever echidna genome and a greatly improved, high quality platypus genome sequence. (2021-01-07)

A single gene 'invented' haemoglobin several times
Thanks to the marine worm Platynereis dumerilii, an animal whose genes have evolved very slowly, scientists from CNRS, Université de Paris and Sorbonne Université, in association with others at the University of Saint Petersburg and the University of Rio de Janeiro, have shown that while haemoglobin appeared independently in several species, it actually descends from a single gene transmitted to all by their last common ancestor. These findings were published on 29 December 2020 in BMC Evolutionary Biology. (2020-12-29)

Newly discovered receptor helps to sneak a peek at evolution
Certain proteins call for unusual ways to get incorporated into membranes, because the signal sequence required for this process is located at their rear end instead of at the front. The relevant mechanism and its components are well-known and well-studied in yeast and mammals. Scientists have already hypothesised that it also occurs in plants, but there was no evidence of an indispensable receptor, until now. (2020-12-22)

Scientists and philosopher team up, propose a new way to categorize minerals
Minerals are the most durable, information-rich objects we can study to understand our planet's origin and evolution. However, the current classification system leaves unanswered questions for planetary scientists, geobiologists, paleontologists and others who strive to understand minerals' historical context. A new evolutionary approach to classifying minerals complements the existing protocols and offers the opportunity to rigorously document Earth's history. (2020-12-21)

The DNA regions in our brain that contribute to make us human
With only 1% difference, the human and chimpanzee protein-coding genomes are remarkably similar. Understanding the biological features that make us human is part of a fascinating and intensely debated line of research. Researchers at the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and the University of Lausanne have developed a new approach to pinpoint, for the first time, adaptive human-specific changes in the way genes are regulated in the brain. (2020-12-16)

A new evolutionary clue
Colleen B. Young, a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Missouri, tested several popular assumptions about the characteristics of Homo floresiensis by comparing an island fox from California's Channel Islands with its mainland US relative, the gray fox. (2020-12-09)

How the insect got its wings: Scientists (at last!) tell the tale
How insect wings evolved has puzzled biologists for over a century. Finally, a team from the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, has shown that the insect wing evolved from an outgrowth on the crustacean leg that was incorporated into the animal's body wall. (2020-12-01)

Identical evolution of isolated organisms
Palaeontologists at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and the University of Calgary in Canada have provided new proof of parallel evolution: conodonts, early vertebrates from the Permian period, adapted to new habitats in almost identical ways despite living in different geographical regions. The researchers were able to prove that this was the case using fossil teeth found in different geographical locations. (2020-11-23)

Birds of a feather do flock together
Researchers explain how different species of the finch-like capuchino seedeaters quickly acquired distinct patterns of coloration over an evolutionary time scale. New gene patterns emerged from selective sweeps, a genetic process during which a naturally occurring variation becomes advantageous. (2020-11-17)

Cockroach mating habits and developmental features help uncover insect evolution
A research team led by the University of Tsukuba examined the mating habits of an often-overlooked cockroach family, Nocticolidae, to provide clues about insect evolution. Although the studied cockroaches displayed novel wing-flapping behavior prior to copulation, similarities in other mating habits, egg sac handling, and embryonic development between Nocticolidae and sister family Corydiidae suggested that the two groups share a common ancestor. Elucidating these relationships will help infer the evolutionary history of modern-day insects. (2020-11-05)

Study finds 5 distinct dog types from 11,000 years ago
An international team of researchers that includes a Texas A&M University professor has studied the lineage of dogs and found that there were at least five different types of dogs as far back as 11,000 years ago. (2020-10-29)

Building blocks of language evolved 30-40 million years ago
The capacity for language is built upon our ability to understand combinations of words and the relationships between them, but the evolutionary history of this ability is little understood. Now, researchers from the University of Warwick have managed to date this capacity to at least 30-40 million years ago, the last common ancestor of monkeys, apes and humans. (2020-10-21)

'Multi-omics' adds new cell to immune family tree
Australian researchers have used powerful 'single cell multi-omics' technologies to discover a previously unknown ancestor of T and B lymphocytes, which are critical components of our immune system. (2020-10-19)

Wolves attached - Adult wolves miss their human handler in separation similar to dogs
One key feature of the dog's success is that they show attachment towards their owners. The origin of the ability to form these interspecific bonds is still unclear. It is widely accepted that the common ancestor of the dog and the grey wolf probably was a highly social species, that had an important role during domestication. By studying the dog's closest living relative, the grey wolf, we can have an insight how early domestication process of the dog was affected. (2020-10-14)

The ur-Iris likely had purple flowers, pollinated by insects for nectar
Plant scientists use genomic data to build a family tree of over 200 species in the highly diverse genus Iris, onto which they map traits related to flower color and morphology, and mating system. They deduce that the last common ancestor probably had nectar-producing purple flowers, pollinated by insects and self-compatible, with a crest and a spot on the falls (sepals). (2020-10-13)

A tiny jaw from Greenland sheds light on the origin of complex teeth
A team of scientists led from Uppsala University have described the earliest known example of dentary bone with two rows of cusps on molars and double-rooted teeth. The new findings offer insight into mammal tooth evolution, particularly the development of double-rooted teeth. The results are published in the scientific journal PNAS. (2020-10-13)

IPK scientists discover gene that ensures slim inflorescence shape of barley
The inflorescences of grasses often have very different shapes. An international research team led by IPK has now succeeded in identifying a gene that plays a decisive role in ensuring that barley develops its characteristic slender inflorescences, called spikes. Compared to other grasses, the COMPOSITUM1 (COM1) gene has acquired a new function during grass evolution. The results have today been published in Nature Communications magazine. (2020-10-12)

Evolution of the Y chromosome in great apes deciphered
New analysis of the DNA sequence of the male-specific Y chromosomes from all living species of the great ape family helps to clarify our understanding of how this enigmatic chromosome evolved. (2020-10-06)

The ancient Neanderthal hand in severe COVID-19
Genetic variants that leave their carrier more susceptible to severe COVID-19 are inherited from Neanderthals, finds a new study published in Nature. (2020-09-30)

Rodent ancestors combined portions of blood and venom genes to make pheromones
Experts who study animal pheromones have traced the evolutionary origins of genes that allow mice, rats and other rodents to communicate through smell. The discovery is a clear example of how new genes can evolve through the random chance of molecular tinkering and may make identifying new pheromones easier in future studies. The results represent a genealogy for the exocrine-gland secreting peptide (ESP) gene family. (2020-09-30)

Looking at evolution's genealogy from home
Evolution leaves its traces in particular in genomes. A team headed by Dr. Jürgen Schmitz from the Institute of Experimental Pathology at Münster University uses its '2-n-way' software to determine the relationships between species or individuals and compare any genome of and for anyone. The results are published in the journal 'Genome Research'. (2020-09-28)

Naked prehistoric monsters! Evidence that prehistoric flying reptiles probably had
Pterosaur expert Dr David Unwin from the University of Leicester's Centre for Palaeobiology Research, and Professor Dave Martill, of the University of Portsmouth have examined the evidence that these creatures had feathers and believe they were in fact bald (2020-09-28)

Bird brains' cortex-like structure may be behind complex cognition, and even consciousness
Informing the century-long riddle of why some birds, despite having a radically different forebrain organization than mammals, demonstrate comparable cognitive abilities, two new studies report that a neuron-dense part of the avian brain, the pallium, may help birds achieve these cognitive feats, including conscious awareness. (2020-09-24)

Placing barthelonids on the tree of life
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba have clearly defined the phylogenetic position of barthelonids, a group of microscopic free-living anaerobic biflagellates. Their findings suggest that the Barthelona spp. represent a clade of metamonads that branched off early in evolutionary history. Additionally, phylogenomic data confirmed their specific commonality and transcriptome analysis outlined the likely evolutionary history of their ATP-generating organelles. (2020-09-23)

Computational study of famous fossil reveals evolution of locomotion in 'ruling reptiles'
Scientists from the University of Bristol and the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) used three-dimensional computer modelling to investigate the hindlimb of Euparkeria capensis-a small reptile that lived in the Triassic Period 245 million years ago-and inferred that it had a ''mosaic'' of functions in locomotion. (2020-09-21)

Like humans, chimpanzees can suffer for life if orphaned before adulthood
A new study from the Tai Chimpanzee Project in Ivory Coast and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, shows that orphaned male chimpanzees are less competitive and have fewer offspring of their own than those who continue to live with their mothers. The remaining puzzle is, what is it that their mothers provide that keeps chimpanzees healthy and competitive? (2020-09-18)

Discovery of microbes with mixed membranes sheds new light on early evolution of life
Current research suggests that more complex life-forms, including humans, evolved from a symbiosis event of Bacteria and another single-celled organism known as Archaea. However, evidence of a transition period in which the two organisms mixed where nowhere to be found. That is, until now. In the deep waters of the Black Sea, a team of scientists from NIOZ and Utrecht University found microbes that can make membrane lipids of unexpected origin. (2020-09-17)

Tail regeneration in lungfish provides insight into evolution of limb regrowth
Researchers at UChicago find that the molecular mechanisms underlying tail regeneration in West African lungfish are similar to those seen in amphibians, suggesting the trait evolved in a common ancestor. (2020-09-16)

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