Journal Club

Highlighting recent, timely papers selected by Academy member labs

Category Archives: Evolution

Social leverage makes great apes share more

Sharing is caring. But how much sharing seems fair? In a classical economics test of fairness called the Ultimatum Game, two individuals must agree on how to divide a pot of money. If I propose a split and you accept, … Continue reading

Categories: Animal Behavior | Evolution | Journal Club | Psychological and Cognitive Sciences | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Using helpers, desert birds hedge their bets to weather variable conditions

Unpredictable environments can help explain the evolution of cooperative behavior, according to a decade-long study of birds in the Kalahari Desert. The research showed that white-browed sparrow-weavers (Plocepasser mahali) work to raise the offspring of other birds as a strategy … Continue reading

Categories: Animal Behavior | Ecology | Evolution | Genetics | Journal Club | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Digital reconstruction gets to the root of 400-million-year-old plant

Researchers have managed to reconstruct the detailed 3-D structure of a fossilized plant more than 400 million years old. The ancient leafy organism, a relative of today’s clubmosses, grew in the Early Devonian era—a crucial time for the development of … Continue reading

Categories: Evolution | Journal Club | Plant Biology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A popular household fern may be the first known eusocial plant

Staghorn ferns are popular houseplants, sporting long, antler-like fronds that poke out from a brown, tissue-papery base. They may also be the first known example of a plant that exhibits a type of social organization—that is, the first plant thought … Continue reading

Categories: Ecology | Evolution | Journal Club | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Massive study suggests chimp populations mixed more recently than previously reported

A recent study in Communications Biology reports results from the largest such survey of chimpanzee genetics so far. It suggests that animals from the different groups have mixed more recently than many researchers in the field previously believed. The findings … Continue reading

Categories: Evolution | Genetics | Journal Club | Population Biology | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Study reveals evolutionary origins of fold-switching protein

Most proteins are thought to fold into a single active shape. But the human immune protein XCL1 is a rare breed that can switch back and forth between two different structures, each with its own function. A recent study in … Continue reading

Categories: Biochemistry | Evolution | Immunology | Journal Club | Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smaller salamander species associated with smaller genomes

The world’s tiniest salamanders are so small that some body parts appear to get short shrift. Those in the genus Thorius, for example, have heads that are “mind bogglingly small, maybe half the size of a pencil eraser,” says herpetologist … Continue reading

Categories: Developmental Biology | Evolution | Genetics | Journal Club | Physiology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Model suggests how evolution shapes ecological networks among species

The natural world is filled with networks. Predator and prey, flower and pollinator—each interacting pair forms a link in a networked community of organisms. Now, a French research team has developed a model that explores how evolution may help shape … Continue reading

Categories: Animal Behavior | Ecology | Evolution | Journal Club | Mathematics | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Insects, not just wind, offer an ancient mechanism of orchid seed dispersal

On Yakushima Island, at the southern tip of Japan, an orchid employs a very unusual strategy to disperse its seeds. Crickets visit the orchid at night, eat its fruits, and defecate the seeds in the vicinity. The discovery, reported recently … Continue reading

Categories: Ecology | Evolution | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seasonality shapes coevolution of parasites and hosts

Parasites and their hosts coevolve in an arms race influenced by environmental conditions. Seasonal change, for example, can shape the course of evolution, but precisely how has been something of a mystery. A recent study used lab experiments and mathematical … Continue reading

Categories: Ecology | Evolution | Journal Club | Mathematics | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Snake venom evolved in fits and spurts

The cocktail of toxins in snake venom experienced constant change with pulses of rapid evolution over the last 60 million years, according to a recent study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Venom, the researchers report, has changed … Continue reading

Categories: Evolution | Genetics | Journal Club | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment