Blogs about evolution

Culex Molestus, the London Underground mosquito

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B” describes a research on the influence of human activities on the evolution of various species of animals and the plants. According to a team of researchers from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen in collaboration with the University of Queensland, humans they are causing the emergence of new species but they can’t replace those that are getting extinct.

Sclerocormus parviceps complete (a), in close-ups (b, c, d) and in reconstructions (e, f, g, h)

An article published in the journal “Scientific Reports” describes the analysis of an ichthyosauriform reptile that lived at the beginning of the Triassic period, about 248 million years ago, in today’s Anhui province in China. Called Sclerocormus parviceps, it has very different characteristics from most other members of the same group. This shows that those marine reptiles had rapidly evolved and diversified after the great extinction at the end of the Permian period, far quicker than previously thought.

Masai Giraffe, also known as the Kilimanjaro Giraffe, (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi)

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes a genetic research on the giraffe. An international team led by Professor Douglas Cavener of Penn State University sequenced the DNA of the giraffe and of the okapi, its closest living relative. A comparison extended to the genome of other mammals identified 70 genes linked to the giraffe’s evolutionary adaptations, including its long neck.

Head skeletons of skate and shark showing gill arch appendages in red (Image Andrew Gillis)

An article published in the journal “Development” describes a genetic study which suggests that the limbs of tetrapods, and consequently those of humans, might have evolved from the gills of cartilaginous fishes such as sharks and skates. A new analysis shows that a genetic program is shared between those gills and human limbs finding possible evidence to a theory that was discarded over a century ago.

An article published in the journal “Royal Society Open Science” describes a research that provides an explanation of the evolution of sauropod dinosaurs, the ones that become the biggest such as the famous brontosaurus. A team of paleontologists led by Dr. Karl Bates from the University of Liverpool developed computer models of their bodies to examine the evolution of their shapes.