natural selection

15 Stories

How Climate May Have Changed Our Noses

Narrower noses appear to be better at dealing with cold, dry air

(Newser) - Don't like your nose? You can blame the weather. Kinda. Researchers have found a correlation between one aspect of nose shape and climate, according to a study published Thursday in PLOS Genetics . The New York Times explains that in addition to helping people smell, noses warm and moisten air... More »

Omega-3 Story Gets 'Intriguing New Twist'

Unless you live in the Arctic, researchers say

(Newser) - One in 10 Americans take fish oil supplements thanks in part to decades-old research. The Inuit—who consumed a diet mainly of whales, seals, and fish—rarely had heart attacks, and researchers speculated in the 1970s that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish guard against them, reports the New York ... More »

Europeans' White Skin Came Later Than Thought

Study suggests trait emerged about 8K years ago

(Newser) - Science notes that Europe is often thought of as the "ancestral home of white people." But a new DNA study suggests that pale skin and other traits we associate with the continent may have emerged only within the last 8,000 years—a "relatively recent" occurrence.... More »

Genes From Mom Give Females Edge on Long Life

Mutations that hurt males still get passed along

(Newser) - Natural selection usually eliminates the most dangerous mutations in our DNA—but one "loophole" ends up being a raw deal for males, LiveScience notes. It involves mitochondrial DNA, which typically comes entirely from the mother. Over time, moms weed out harmful mutations instead of passing them along to offspring.... More »

Middle-Aged Folks Are Evolution's 'Pinnacle': Scientist

They pass on vital knowledge to help societies thrive

(Newser) - Middle aged? Don't get down on yourself: You're the "pinnacle of evolution," according to a Cambridge scientist. Middle age is a period "not of decline but of development," says David Bainbridge. Humans are unusual in that they remain healthy well beyond their child-bearing years.... More »

Climate Change Already Causing Evolution

(Newser) - Global warming is changing the face of the planet, and a key panel estimates that a quarter of the world's species will die out—but a few organisms are already evolving to survive in a hotter world. In the past few years Scottish sheep have become smaller, while species of... More »

Global Warming Shrinking Sheep

Warmer winters make evolutionary drive to grow do a U-turn

(Newser) - Add it to the list of weird things blamed on climate change: smaller sheep. Scientists say Scotland's warmer winters explain why a wild herd on an uninhabited northern island are a full 5% smaller than they were in the '80s, the BBC reports. The theory says that only big sheep... More »

Gay Animals Key to Species' Survival: Study

'Same-sex behavior' seen all over animal kingdom

(Newser) - Homosexual behavior is almost everywhere among animals—penguins, dolphins, even fruit flies. And same-sex bonds may be a key adaptation that helps species survive, the Daily Telegraph reports. One-third of a Hawaiian albatross population is raised by two moms because there are so few males, researchers observed. That adaptation has... More »

Dinos Evolved Wings to Lure Opposite Sex

Feathered displays may have been about finding mates, not climbing trees

(Newser) - Among paleontologists, one of the big battles has long been over why dinosaurs originally evolved wings: Did they start gliding down from trees, or need extra propulsion when running? According to a new study, the first wings were all about impressing the ladies—it was sexual selection that let bigger-winged... More »

Princeton Team Adds Twist to Darwin's Theory

It's not random, they say: Organisms can control own evolution

(Newser) - Princeton scientists say they have found evidence that organisms can essentially control their own evolution, a finding that could provide a fundamental shift in our understanding of Darwin's theory, reports the university's news service. The research suggests that evolution isn't entirely random, as Darwin believed. Rather, proteins within organisms constantly... More »

Sure, I'm Offended— I'm Human!

People are extra sensitive these days, and science knows why

(Newser) - From Larry David to John McCain, we’re all getting a little touchy these days, writes Emily Yoffe in Slate: “People are like tuning forks, ready to vibrate with indignation.” While economists argue humans are rational, “it seems we live in a culture devoted to retribution on... More »

Multitasking Is a Myth

Imaging shows brain quickly switches among tasks instead

(Newser) - Pull your ears away from that cell phone: Multitasking is a myth. New research shows we can’t really concentrate on two things at once; rather, the executive functions of the brain sweep quickly between multiple tasks. It’s thought that survival and the hunt made this rapid refocusing of... More »

Anglicans Making Nice With Darwin

Church's essay series aims to repair evolutionist's reputation

(Newser) - When Charles Darwin came out with his theory of evolution by natural selection nearly 150 years ago, the Church of England opposed it. But now, 200 years after the celebrated scientist's birth, the church has launched a website exploring its history with Darwin, and the church's head of public affairs... More »

Darwin's Papers Now Online

Once-private drafts, notes and even recipes of evolutionary scientist are free to public

(Newser) - A vast collection of the papers of Charles Darwin is now online, providing public access to volumes once restricted to Cambridge scholars, the BBC reports. 20,000 items are available, including the first draft of his seminal book on evolution, travel notes and personal pieces such as family recipes, Reuters... More »

Humans Wired to Fear Snakes

Scientists find innate ability to discern slithering critters in the wild

(Newser) - Evolution seems to have given humans a hard-wired ability to recognize snakes and spiders, LiveScience reports. Intrigued by the widespread fear of serpents despite the fact that most humans rarely interact with them, researchers showed groups of adults and 3-year-olds natural scenes containing various hidden animals. Both groups were consistently... More »

15 Stories