Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Evolution

Journal Club: Dogs can harbor evolving flu viruses, signaling potential future threat to humans

When scientists search for the origins of a novel influenza A outbreak, they often trace the virus back to birds or pigs. These animals act as reservoirs, hosts that allow diverse flu viruses to swap genome segments, evolving into new … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Older zebra finch fathers produce young with shorter lifespans

Scientists have long observed that the offspring of younger parents tend to live longer than the offspring of older parents in many animal species, including humans. But this phenomenon, dubbed the “Lansing effect” for the first scientist who described it, … Continue reading

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Journal Club: In the mouse gut, a bacteria-killing virus evolves to attack a new strain

In scientists’ quest to understand how gut microbes affect human health, bacteria take center stage. But bacteriophages, the viruses that attack the bacteria, are often overlooked, says microbiologist Luisa De Sordi of the Institut Pasteur in France. “We keep an … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Analysis of bony fishes suggests convergent evolution is more prevalent than previously thought

Habitats and environmental pressures shape a variety of animal morphologies and behaviors over vast evolutionary time scales. These environmental pressures can sometimes produce nearly identical traits, even in completely unrelated lineages. This phenomenon, called convergent evolution, results in modern species that appear very similar despite … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Fruit fly hybrids make poor foragers, offering insight into how species remain distinct

  When one fruit fly species meets another, they sometimes interbreed. And yet despite this genetic mixing, distinct species still persist—over 2,000 of them. Evolutionary biologist Daniel Matute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Animals that glow for courtship have more species

The distinct blinking pattern of fireflies enables mate recognition and, thus, the perpetuation of the species. But it seems this flashy courtship ritual could be driving the formation of new species, too. A new analysis of diverse animal lineages—from octopuses … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Ancient fish moving to land used their tails as crutches

The evolution from fish living in water to vertebrates living on land was one of the most pivotal moments in the history of the animal kingdom. Now scientists using robot fish suggest that these ancient pioneers may have used their … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Charred fossilized eggs suggest that humans contributed to Australia’s megafaunal extinction

A huge flightless bird known as Genyornis newtoni once roamed the Australian Outback along with a host of other giant animals. Now scientists have unearthed what may be the first reliable evidence that humans contributed to the extinction of these … Continue reading

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Journal Club: A new take on why tumors develop drug resistance

Cancer’s notorious resistance to therapy is often explained as the result of natural selection of newly mutating cells. Cancer-killing drugs wipe out nearly all of a tumor’s cells, but random mutations may allow for drug resistance in some cells, and … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Epigenetic marks may reveal how the environment affected ancient societies

Ancient DNA can shed light on the past in myriad ways — for instance, genes and mutations may reveal important adaptations or physiological changes. But gene-regulating molecules latched onto the DNA, known as epigenetic marks, may also reveal important clues. … Continue reading

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