News: 2010

News relating to evolution from American Scientist, Nature, Science ,and Scientific American are listed. The most recent articles are first.

NATURE: Search
SCIENCE: Search, Evolution, Paleontology, Anthropology, Molecular Biology, Genetics.

Artificial Life; Origin of Life, Eukaryotes, Organelles; Origin/Evolution of Prokaryotes, Viruses, Introns, etc.
Ancient Birds; Dinosaurs; Other Ancient Reptiles
Human Origins and Evolution; Domestication
Other Evolutionary Biology
Political, Religious, and Educational Issues

Dec 23. Fossil genome reveals ancestral link. Nature 468:1012. "A distant cousin raises questions about human origins."

Dec 23. Shadows of early migrations. Nature 468:1044-1045.

Dec 23. Genetic history of an archaic hominin group from Denisova Cave in Siberia. Nature 468:1053-1060.

Dec 16. Twisted tale of snail evolution. Nature 468:870.

Dec 10. Genome Evolution in Plant Pathogens. Science 330:1486-1487. "Pathogen genes that shut down specific host plant immune responses are highly divergent and have evolved rapidly to accommodate adaptation."

Dec 10. Genome Expansion and Gene Loss in Powdery Mildew Fungi Reveal Tradeoffs in Extreme Parasitism. Science 330:1543-1546. "A group of papers analyzes pathogen genomes to find the roots of virulence, opportunism, and life-style determinants."

Dec 9. Genomic hourglass. Nature 468:768-769.

Dec 3. Plasticity of Animal Genome Architecture Unmasked by Rapid Evolution of a Pelagic Tunicate. Science 330:1381-1385. "A metazoan genome departs from the organization that appears rigidly established in other animal phyla."

Dec 2. Early Homo sapiens in China. Nature 468:512-513.

Nov 26. Excavation Yields Tantalizing Hints of Earliest Marine Reptiles. Science 330:1164-1165. "In September, paleontologists launched the first systematic excavation at Majiashan quarry, north of Chaohu City in central China's Anhui Province. The dig's first fruits -- including an ancestor of the plesiosaurs -- are already generating a buzz."

Nov 26. Intermediate Steps. Science 330:1187-1188. "Bacteria that also have features typical of eukaryotes and archaea may reflect a possible pathway in ancient cellular evolution."

Nov 26. The Evolution of Maximum Body Size of Terrestrial Mammals. Science 330:1216-1219. "Maximum mammal size increased at the beginning of the Cenozoic, then leveled off after about 25 million years."

Nov 18. Food thieves offer a helping hand. Nature 468:349.

Nov 12. Neandertal Brain Growth Shows A Head Start for Moderns. Science 330:900-901. In the crucial first year of life, Neandertal brains developed dramatically differently from the way ours do, according to a report published this week.

Nov 12. Irremediable Complexity? Science 330:920-921. "Complex cellular machines may have evolved through a ratchet-like process called constructive neutral evolution."

Nov 12. Fossil Evidence for Evolution of the Shape and Color of Penguin Feathers. Science 330:954-957. "A fossil penguin shows that the wing and feather form evolved before distinctive microstructural changes in the feathers."

Nov 11. Chasing off biters benefits others. Nature 468:136.

Nov 11. When abnormality is beneficial. Nature 468:183-184.

Nov 5. Mutational Robustness of Ribosomal Protein Genes. Science 330:825-827. "The distribution of the fitness effects of silent mutations is not different from that of amino acid–altering mutations."

Nov 4. Higher rates of sex evolve in spatially heterogeneous environments. Nature 468:89-92.

Sep-Oct. Evolution on a Frozen Continent. American Scientist (Sep-Oct 2010). "Ancient-DNA studies of Adélie penguins combined with a detailed picture of a remarkable continent’s geological past provide a window on evolution."

Oct. How We Are Evolving. Scientific American (Oct 2010). "New analyses suggest that recent human evolution has followed a different course than biologists would have expected."

Oct 29. Epigenetics in the Extreme: Prions and the Inheritance of Environmentally Acquired Traits. Science 330:629-632.

Oct 28. Late middle Eocene epoch of Libya yields earliest known radiation of African anthropoids. Nature 467:1095-1098.

Oct 22. The Long-Term Benefits of Self-Rejection. Science 330:459-460. "A trait that prevents self-fertilization in plants appears to promote evolutionary diversification."

Oct 22. Species Selection Maintains Self-Incompatibility. Science 330:493-495. "Self-incompatibility in a family of plants is associated with appreciably higher rates of speciation."

Oct 15. Comment on "Narrow Primary Feather Rachises in Confuciusornis and Archaeopteryx Suggest Poor Flight Ability". Science 330:320.

Oct 1. High Frequency of Horizontal Gene Transfer in the Oceans. Science 330:50. "Viruslike particles enable lateral gene transfer among marine microorganisms."

Oct 1. Human Adaptation and Plant Use in Highland New Guinea 49,000 to 44,000 Years Ago. Science 330:78-81. "Archaeological sites in the New Guinea Highlands trace the arrival of modern humans to nearly 50,000 years ago."

Sep 24. The Rise of Sunflowers. Science 329:1605-1606. "A new fossil suggests the family that includes sunflowers and daisies originated in South America."

Sep 17. Score One for Hunting at Olduvai. Science 329:1464-1465. "Were early humans mighty hunters, or did they scavenge carcasses left behind by other carnivores? At the meeting, the hunting partisans presented evidence from a 1.3-million-year-old Olduvai site called BK that, they say, argues against the scavenging hypothesis."

Sep 17. Tyrannosaur Paleobiology: New Research on Ancient Exemplar Organisms. Science 329:1481-1485.

Sep 17. The Ecological Significance of Tool Use in New Caledonian Crows. Science 329:1523-1526. "Stable isotope analysis reveals the nutritional benefits of tool use in wild New Caledonian crows."

Sep 9. Ginormous genomes. Nature 467:135.

Sep 9. Communication and speciation. Nature 467:159. "An electrifying evolutionary radiation has evidently occurred among elephant fish in Africa's Ivindo basin. An implication is that open niches for communication can result in species diversification."

Sep 9. A bizarre, humped Carcharodontosauria (Theropoda) from the Lower Cretaceous of Spain. Nature 467:203. "The almost complete and remarkably conserved skeleton of a medium-sized dinosaur was discovered in Las Hoyas, Spain. Phylogenetic analysis places this specimen at the evolutionary base of the Carcharodontosauridae."

Aug 26. Lice in hiding. Nature 467:1024.

Aug 26. The evolution of eusociality. Nature 467:1057.

Aug 20. Females Use Multiple Mating and Genetically Loaded Sperm Competition to Target Compatible Genes. Science 329:964-967. "Female birds that have multiple mates favor fertilization by the most genetically compatible father."

Aug 19. Oh sibling, who art thou? Nature 467:930. "Help from earlier offspring in rearing a subsequent brood should evolve more easily when the mother is strictly monogamous. A comparative study of birds provides evidence in support of this view."

Aug 19. Promiscuity and the evolutionary transition to complex societies. Nature 467:969. "A phylogenetic analysis of breeding behaviour in birds shows that cooperation is more likely when promiscuity is low -- a circumstance in which helpers can be more certain that they are offering aid to relatives. Intermediate levels of promiscuity favour the ability to distinguish relatives from non-relatives. At high levels of promiscuity, no form of cooperation is favoured. Levels of promiscuity therefore provide an explanation for differences between species in levels of cooperation."

Aug 12. Australopithecine butchers. Nature 466:828. "How far back in the human lineage does tool use extend? Fossil bones that bear evidence of butchery marks made by stone implements increase the known range of that behaviour to at least 3.2 million years ago."

Aug 12. Evidence for stone-tool-assisted consumption of animal tissues before 3.39 million years ago at Dikika, Ethiopia. Nature 466:857. "The earliest direct evidence for stone tools is between 2.6 and 2.5 million years old and comes from Gona, Ethiopia. These authors report bones from Dikika, Ethiopia, dated to around 3.4 million years ago and marked with cuts indicative of the use of stone tools to remove flesh and extract bone marrow. This is the earliest known evidence of stone tool use, and might be attributed to the activities of Australopithecus afarensis."

Aug 11. Our Neandertal Brethren: Why They Were Not a Separate Species. Scientific American (Oct 2010):29. "Genome sequencing has revealed our common humanity."

Aug 6. Lucy's Toolkit? Old Bones May Show Earliest Evidence of Tool Use. Science 329:738-739. "Two nondescript scraps of animal bone that most fossil hunters would have left on the ground are being offered as the earliest known evidence for the first technological revolution in human evolution."

Aug 6. Tracing Evolution's Recent Fingerprints. Science 329:740-742. "The once-stalled hunt for the genes that helped humans adapt to new climates, diseases, and diets is exposing how evolution works."

Aug 5. Ear roots. Nature 466:668. "

Aug 5. The evolution of mammal-like crocodyliforms in the Cretaceous Period of Gondwana. Nature 466:748. "A spectacular adaptive radiation among notosuchian crocodyliforms in the southern continents of Gondwana led to all manner of strange forms; in particular, their teeth, rather than being undifferentiated conical fangs, were often differentiated into biting and crushing types, as seen in mammals. These authors describe a new form from the Cretaceous period of Tanzania in which upper and lower dentitions were capable of occlusion, a feature otherwise known only from mammals."

Jul. Winged Victory: Modern Birds Now Found to Have Been Contemporaries of Dinosaurs. Scientific American (July, 2010). "Modern birds, long thought to have arisen only after the dinosaurs perished, turn out to have lived alongside them."

Jul. Our Inner Neandertal. Scientific American (July, 2010). "Genome analysis indicates Neandertals and modern humans interbred."

Jul 29. Convergent evolution of chicken Z and human X chromosomes by expansion and gene acquisitio. Nature 466:612. "Birds and mammals have distinct sex chromosomes: in birds, males are ZZ and females ZW; in mammals, males are XY and females XX. By sequencing the chicken Z chromosome and comparing it with the human X chromosome, these authors overturn the currently held view that these chromosomes have diverged little from their autosomal progenitors. The Z and X chromosomes seem to have followed convergent evolutionary trajectories, despite evolving with opposite systems of heterogamety."

Jul 15. New Oligocene primate from Saudi Arabia and the divergence of apes and Old World monkeys. Nature 466:360. "The fossil record of primates is sparse, and many gaps remain in our knowledge. One gap relates to the divergence within the catarrhines — the ancestors of hominoids (apes and humans) and Old World monkeys. The discovery of a previously unknown catarrhine in Saudi Arabia, dated to 29–28 million years ago, helps to fill in some details. This specimen shows very few catarrhine specializations, suggesting that the divergence between Old World monkeys and hominoids must have occurred after this date."

Jul 9. Adaptation via Symbiosis: Recent Spread of a Drosophila Defensive Symbiont. Science 329:212-215. "A bacterium protects fruit flies against a sterilizing worm parasite."

Jul 8. Dreampond revisited. Nature 466:174. "A once-threatened population of African fish is now providing a view of evolution in action. Laura Spinney asks what Lake Victoria cichlids have revealed about speciation."

Jul 2. Genetic Evidence for High-Altitude Adaptation in Tibet. Science 329:. "A candidate gene approach reveals genes under selection in humans living at high altitudes."

Jul 1. Origins of multicellularity. Nature 466:41. "Interpreting truly ancient fossils is an especially tricky business. The conclusion that 2.1-billion-year-old structures from Gabon are the remains of large colonial organisms will get palaeobiologists talking."

Jul 1. The giant bite of a new raptorial sperm whale from the Miocene epoch of Peru. Nature 466:105. "Modern sperm whales have relatively small teeth and feed by suction, but the discovery of large teeth in the fossil record suggests that raptorial sperm whales once existed. Here the authors report the discovery of the teeth and jaws of a fossil raptorial sperm whale from the Middle Miocene of Peru, almost as large as a modern sperm whale but with a three-metre head and jaws full of teeth, some 36cm long."

Jun. Fossils Of Our Family. Scientific American (June, 2010). "A new human species is identified, but does it belong on the line leading to Homo sapiens?"

Jun. Did Neandertals Think Like Us? Scientific American (June, 2010). "João Zilhão defends his controversial view that our oft-maligned relatives shared our cognitive abilities."

Jun 25. Lucy's 'Big Brother' Reveals New Facets of Her Species. Science 328:1619. "The partial skeleton of a large male of Australopithecus afarensis, unveiled this week, is nicknamed "Big Man" because it's larger than the famous Lucy skeleton."

Jun 24. Evolutionary biology: Expanding islands of speciation. Nature 465:1019. "Speciation can occur even when the incipient species coexist and can interbreed. An extensive analysis of two fruitfly strains suggests that many genomic regions contribute to speciation in such cases."

Jun 18. Evolutionary Novelty Is Concentrated at the Edge of Coral Species Distributions. Science 328:1558-1561. "Caribbean coral morphology documents that most coral evolution did not occur at the center of diversity of a species."

Jun 17. Ecological interactions are evolutionarily conserved across the entire tree of life. Nature 465:918. "It is expected that closely related organisms are more likely to show similar ecological interactions than less related ones. But this has been tested only for certain types of interaction, and in a restricted set of taxa. Now interaction networks have been constructed for 116 different clades of related organisms, across the entire tree of life, and including all types of interaction. The results reveal significant conservatism across the board, including both specialist and generalist species."

Jun 17. Sequence space and the ongoing expansion of the protein universe. Nature 465:922. "The need to maintain the structural and functional integrity of an evolving protein limits the range of acceptable amino-acid substitutions — but to what extent does this constrain how far homologous protein sequences can diverge? Here, sequence divergence data are used to explore the limits of protein evolution, and to conclude that ancient proteins are continuing to diverge from one another, indicating that the protein sequence universe is slowly expanding."

Jun 11. Regulation of Body Temperature by Some Mesozoic Marine Reptiles. Science 328:1379-1382. "Fast-swimming plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and mesosaurs may have been able to thermoregulate."

Jun 4. Natural and Sexual Selection in a Wild Insect Population. Science 328:1269-1272. "Monitoring reproduction in wild crickets confirms that male success varies more than female success."

Jun 4. Permissive Secondary Mutations Enable the Evolution of Influenza Oseltamivir Resistance. Science 328:1272-1275. "Compensatory mutations offset the structural costs of acquiring a drug-resistance mutation."

Jun 3. The Ectocarpus genome and the independent evolution of multicellularity in brown algae. Nature 465:617. "The genome of Ectocarpus siliculosis, a model for the study of brown algae, has been sequenced. These seaweeds are complex photosynthetic organisms that have adapted to rocky coastal environments. Genome analysis sheds light on this adaptation, revealing an extended set of light-harvesting and pigment biosynthesis genes, and new metabolic processes such as halide metabolism. Comparative analyses are also significant with respect to the evolution of multicellularity in plants, animals and brown algae."

Jun 3. Natural allelic variation underlying a major fitness trade-off in Arabidopsis thaliana. Nature 465:632. "Here, a combination of forward genetics and genome-wide association analyses has been used to show that variation at a single genetic locus in Arabidopsis thaliana underlies phenotypic variation in vegetative growth as well as resistance to infection. The strong enhancement of resistance mediated by one of the alleles at this locus explains the allele's persistence in natural populations throughout the world, even though it drastically reduces the production of new leaves."

May-June. Development Influences Evolution. American Scientist (May-June, 2010). "A range of factors—including genetics and physics, location and timing— can either constrain an animal’s features or amplify changes."

May 28. Prion Strain Mutation and Selection. Science 328:1111-1112. "Structural compatibility of infecting prion proteins with those of a new host determine whether they will be successfully transmitted."

May 28. Response to Comment on the Paleobiology and Classification of Ardipithecus ramidus. Science 328:1105.

May 21. Adaptive Evolution of an sRNA That Controls Myxococcus Development. Science 328:993. "Mutation of a small noncoding RNA drives adaptive evolution in a social bacterium."

May 21. Five-Vertebrate ChIP-seq Reveals the Evolutionary Dynamics of Transcription Factor Binding. Science 328:1036-1040. "Binding of two liver-specific transcription factors in several vertebrate species reveals complex regulatory evolution."

May 27. Palaeontology: A little Kraken wakes. Nature 465:427. "Fossils from the famed Burgess Shale continue to deliver fresh perspectives on a dramatic episode in evolutionary time. The latest revelations bear on the early history of cephalopod molluscs."

May 27. Primitive soft-bodied cephalopods from the Cambrian. Nature 465:469. "The 505-million-year-old Burgess Shales of British Columbia are justifiably famous for the exquisite preservation of their fossils, and for the extreme oddity of many of them. One such is Nectocaris pteryx, which, from the few fossils available for study, looked like a chordate fused with an arthropod. However, the collection and examination of more fossils of Nectocaris suggests that it in fact represents an early offshoot of cephalopod molluscs — a kind of squid, though with two rather than eight or ten tentacles."

May 14. Additive Genetic Breeding Values Correlate with the Load of Partially Deleterious Mutations. Science 328:892-894. "A correlation between mutational load and fitness is demonstrated in seed-feeding beetles, especially."

May 14. Genome-Wide Evolutionary Analysis of Eukaryotic DNA Methylation. Science 328:916-919.

May 13. A formal test of the theory of universal common ancestry. Nature 465:219. "It is generally assumed that life had a single origin — or, at least, that all extant life descended from a 'universal common ancestor' (UCA) — although this view has been called into question by evidence for extensive horizontal gene transfer. Here, the UCA view is framed as a formal hypothesis and tested (crucially, without assuming that genetic similarity reflects genetic kinship). The UCA view triumphs: a single origin of life is overwhelmingly more likely than any competing hypothesis."

May 7. A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome. Science 328:710-722. "Gene flow has occurred from Neandertals to humans of Eurasian descent, but not to Africans."

Mar-Apr. Gene-Culture Coevolution and Human Diet. American Scientist 2010.

Apr 29. Evolution: Sex and immunity. Nature 464:1248.

Apr 29. Exceptional dinosaur fossils show ontogenetic development of early feathers. Nature 464:1338. "Study of two specimens of the feathered dinosaur Similicaudipteryx shows that the morphology of dinosaur feathers changed dramatically as the animals matured. Moreover, the morphology of feathers in dinosaurs was much more varied than one would expect from looking at feathers in modern birds."

Apr 29. Evolution of self-compatibility in Arabidopsis by a mutation in the male specificity gene. Nature 464:1342. "Self-fertilisation (selfing) in plants is prevented mainly by the self-incompatibility recognition system, which consists of male and female specificity genes and modifier genes. Selfing does occur in Arabidopsis plants, but it is not known how it arose. Here it is reported that selfing in Arabidopsis results from a geographically widespread, 213-base-pair inversion within the male specificity gene. When this inversion is returned to its original orientation, selfing is prevented once more."

Apr 29. A role for host–parasite interactions in the horizontal transfer of transposons across phyla. Nature 464:1347. "'Horizontal gene transfer' refers to the passage of genetic material between non-mating species. Transposable elements (transposons) may be especially prone to horizontal gene transfer, but the mechanisms by which they can spread across diverged species have been elusive. Here it is shown that transposons can spread by hitchhiking in the genomes of parasites. The amount of DNA that can be transferred in this way underscores the impact of horizontal gene transfer on genome evolution."

Apr 23. Complexity and Diversity. Science 328:494-497. "Eco-evolutionary models of selection acting on multiple traits show how rare alleles can establish and drive speciation."

Apr 22. Generation of a novel wing colour pattern by the Wingless morphogen. Nature 464:1143. "Here, the generation and evolution of the complex spotted wing pattern of Drosophila guttifera are investigated. The findings show that wing spots are induced by the Wingless morphogen, and that the elaborate spot pattern evolved from simpler schemes by co-option of Wingless expression at new sites. This type of process is likely to occur in other animals, too."

Apr 15. Périgord black truffle genome uncovers evolutionary origins and mechanisms of symbiosis. Nature 464:1033. "The genome of the black truffle - one of the most popular truffles on the market - has been sequenced. This is the first genome of a symbiotic ascomycete to be analysed. Comparison with the genome of another ectomycorrhizal symbiotic fungus indicates that a genetic predisposition to symbiosis evolved differently in ascomycetes and basidiomycetes. The study also offers insight into fungal sex and fruiting."

Apr 9. Australopithecus sediba: A New Species of Homo-Like Australopith from South Africa. Science 328:154.

Apr 8. Evolutionary biology: A flourishing of fish forms. Nature 464:840. "According to an innovative exercise in 'morphospace analysis', modern fish owe their stunning diversity in part to an ecological cleaning of the slate by the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous."

Apr 8. The complete mitochondrial DNA genome of an unknown hominin from southern Siberia. Nature 464:894. "Ancient mitochondrial DNA from a hominin individual who lived in the mountains of Central Asia between 48,000–30,000 years ago has been sequenced. Comparative genomics suggest that this mitochondrial DNA derives from an out-of-Africa migration distinct from the ones that gave rise to Neanderthals and modern humans. It also seems that this hominin lived in close spatio-temporal proximity to Neanderthals and modern humans."

Apr 8. Genome-wide SNP and haplotype analyses reveal a rich history underlying dog domestication. Nature 464:898. "An extensive genome-wide survey of over 48,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms in dogs and their wild progenitor, the grey wolf, was conducted to shed light on the process of dog diversification. The results reveal that much of genome diversity came from Middle Eastern progenitors, combined with interbreeding with local wolf populations, and that recent evolution involved limited genetic variation to create the phenotypic diversity of modern dogs."

Mar 26. Evolutionary Trade-Offs in Plants Mediate the Strength of Trophic Cascades. Science 327:1642-1644. "The effect of herbivore predators on plant biomass depends on a trade-off between plant growth and resistance to herbivores."

Mar 25. Whole-genome resequencing reveals loci under selection during chicken domestication. Nature 464:587. "Here, the genomes of birds representing eight populations of domestic chickens are compared with the genome of their wild ancestor, the red jungle fowl. The results reveal selective sweeps of favourable alleles and mutations that may have contributed to domestication. One selective sweep, for instance, occurred at the locus encoding the thyroid stimulating hormone receptor, which is important in metabolism and in the timing of vertebrate reproduction."

Mar 19. Male Rivalry Extends to Sperm in Female Reproductive Tract. Science 327:1443. "Two papers published by Science this week, one on work in ants and bees and the other on work in fruit flies, demonstrate that sperm competition between males continues even after the sperm enters the female."

Mar 19. Markets, Religion, Community Size, and the Evolution of Fairness and Punishment. Science 327:1480-1484. "The origins of modern social norms and behaviors may be found in the evolution of institutions."

Mar 18. Post-copulatory sexual selection and sexual conflict in the evolution of male pregnancy. Nature 464:401. "Male pregnancy is restricted to seahorses, pipefishes and their relatives, in which young are nurtured in the male's brood pouch. It is now clear that the brood pouch has a further function. Studies of Gulf pipefish show that males can selectively abort embryos from females perceived as less attractive, saving resources for more hopeful prospects later. This is the only known example of post-copulatory sexual conflict in a sex-reversed species."

Mar 11. Compensatory evolution in mitochondrial tRNAs navigates valleys of low fitness. Nature 464:279. "Evolution from one fitness peak to another must involve either transitions through intermediates of low fitness or skirting round the fitness valley through compensatory mutations elsewhere. Here, the base pairs in mitochondrial tRNA stems is used as a model to show that deep fitness valleys can be traversed. Transitions between AU and GC pairs have occurred during mammalian evolution without help from genetic drift or mutations elsewhere."

February. The Naked Truth: Why Humans Have No Fur. Scientific American. "Recent findings lay bare the origins of human hairlessness—and hint that naked skin was a key factor in the emergence of other human traits." Nature

Feb 25. Evolutionary biology: On the invasion front. Nature 463:1002.

Feb 25. Arthropod relationships revealed by phylogenomic analysis of nuclear protein-coding sequences. Nature 463:1079.

Feb 18. Ancient animal microRNAs and the evolution of tissue identity. Nature 463:1084.

Feb 18. Stone tools reveal that hominins lived on the Indonesian island of Flores a million years ago. Nature 463:335.

Feb 18. Evolutionary biology: Pregnant fathers in charge. Nature 463:364.

Feb 18. Post-copulatory sexual selection and sexual conflict in the evolution of male pregnancy. Nature 463:401.

Feb 12. Darwinian Evolution of Prions in Cell Culture. Science 327:869-872. "When propagated in vitro, prion strains demonstrate adaptability and selection."

Feb 11. Evolutionary biology: Face of the past reconstructed. Nature 463:739. "DNA is particularly well preserved in hair — enabling the genome of a human to be sequenced, and his ancestry and appearance to be determined, from 4,000-year-old remains."

Feb 11. Palaeontology: Decay distorts ancestry. Nature 463:741. "Experiments with simple chordate animals show how decay may make the resulting fossils seem less evolved. The consequence is to distort evidence of the evolution of the earliest vertebrates and their precursors."

Feb 11. Ancient human genome sequence of an extinct Palaeo-Eskimo. Nature 463:757.

Feb 11. Competition drives cooperation among closely related sperm of deer mice. Nature 463:801.

Feb 5. Gradual Adaptation Toward a Range-Expansion Phenotype Initiated the Global Radiation of Toads. Science 327:679-682. "The range expansions and species radiations of toads required the evolution of an optimal dispersal phenotype."

Feb 5. Evolutionary Dynamics of Complex Networks of HIV Drug-Resistant Strains: The Case of San Francisco. Science 327:697-701.

Jan 29. Bird-Dinosaur Link Firmed Up, And in Brilliant Technicolor. Science 327:508. "Paleontologists unveil Haplocheirus sollers, a new genus of alvarezsauroid—a group of dinosaurs once thought to be flightless birds. The nearly complete skeleton is about 15 million years older than the earliest known bird, Archaeopteryx."

Jan 29. Apes Among the Tangled Branches of Human Origins. Science 327:532-534. "The evolution of apes between 23 and 5 million years ago set the scene for the emergence of the first hominins in Africa."

Jan 28. Chimpanzee and human Y chromosomes are remarkably divergent in structure and gene content. Nature 463:536. "Little is known about the recent evolution of the Y chromosome because only the human Y chromosome has been fully sequenced. The sequencing of the male-specific region of the Y chromosome (MSY) in the chimpanzee and comparison between the MSYs of the two species now reveals that they differ radically in sequence structure and gene content, indicating rapid evolution over the past 6 million years."

Jan 22. Evolution of MRSA During Hospital Transmission and Intercontinental Spread. Science 327:469-474. "By tracing the microevolution of a pathogen, high-throughput genomics reveals person-to-person transmission events."

Jan 21. New take on the Red Queen. Nature 463:306. "Biologists have assumed that natural selection shapes larger patterns of evolution through interactions such as competition and predation. These patterns may instead be determined by rare, stochastic speciation."

Jan 21. Phylogenies reveal new interpretation of speciation and the Red Queen. Nature 463:349. "The Red Queen metaphor has species accumulating small changes to keep up with a continually changing environment, with speciation occurring at a constant rate. This constant-rate claim is now tested against four competing models, using 101 phylogenies of animal, plant and fungal taxa. The results provide a new interpretation of the Red Queen; a view linking speciation to rare stochastic events that cause reproductive isolation."

Jan 21. Mutational robustness can facilitate adaptation. Nature 463:353. "If robustness is the opposite of evolvability, we might expect that a robust population would have difficulty adapting to environmental change; however, some studies have suggested that genetic robustness facilitates adaptation. Here, using a general population genetics model, mutational robustness is found to either impede or facilitate adaptation depending on the population size, the mutation rate and the structure of the fitness landscape."

Jan 15. Adaptive Evolution of Pelvic Reduction in Sticklebacks by Recurrent Deletion of a Pitx1 Enhancer. Science 327:302-305. "Loss of a tissue-specific enhancer explains multiple parallel losses of the pelvic girdle in stickleback populations."

Jan 7. Bornavirus enters the genome. Nature 463:39. "A survey of mammalian genomes has unexpectedly unearthed DNA derived from bornaviruses, leading to speculation about the role of these viruses in causing mutations with evolutionary and medical consequences."

Jan 7. Muddy tetrapod origins. Nature 463:40. "The tracks left by organisms are among the most difficult of fossils to interpret. But just such evidence puts debate about the origins of four-limbed vertebrates (which include ourselves) on a changed footing."

Jan 7. Tetrapod trackways from the early Middle Devonian period of Poland. Nature 463:43. "The earliest body fossils of tetrapods (vertebrates with limbs rather than paired fins) date to the Late Devonian period. There have been claims of tetrapod trackways predating these body fossils but the age and identity of the track makers have remained controversial. The discovery of well-preserved and securely dated tetrapod tracks from Polish marine tidal flat sediments of early Middle Devonian age, around 18 million years older than the earliest tetrapod body fossils, is now presented."

Jan 1. The Rate and Molecular Spectrum of Spontaneous Mutations in Arabidopsis thaliana. Science 327:92-94. "Rapid sequencing technologies allow a more accurate calculation of the mutation rate for plants."

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Copyright © 2010 Stanley C. Spencer. All Rights Reserved.