Scientists have just uncovered a gene that explains an example of natural selection often mentioned in textbooks. This gene turns mottled-grey peppered moths black. The gene may also control wing-color changes in brightly hued butterflies.
A mystery emerged in Britain during the 1800s. An Industrial Revolution had just taken hold. Busy factories started to darken the skies with smoke...Readability Score: 7.2
Dogs were such great friends that humans appear to have domesticated them at least twice, a new study suggests.
Domestication (Doh-MES-ti-KAY-shun) is the gradual process by which humans can produce a tame and useful animal from a wild one. This happens over countless generations. It may take thousands of years, but eventually the tamed animals can become so different from their wild...Readability Score: 6.7
Many people frown at the thought of fattening up. But fats can be useful because they store energy. And new research finds that having extra fat might be good — for yeast, at least. Their “fat” cells can outlive lean ones.
For now, it’s unclear what these results mean for people — or even simpler organisms such as worms and flies.
Yeast consist of only a single cell. Still, the...Readability Score: 7.0
Spring brings with it the sweet fragrance of fresh flowers and the buzzing of bumblebees. Those pollinators may seem to fly aimlessly as they search for the sugary liquid called nectar. But their flight plans actually do have a pattern. Flowers act as the insects’ air-traffic controllers. And new research shows that bees prefer flowers that aren’t too flashy.
Flowers give bees clues...Readability Score: 7.5
Fish that swim in the open ocean have nowhere to hide from hungry predators. But some may have evolved a kind of natural invisibility cloak that helps them hide in plain sight. Understanding how it works may let scientists and engineers develop new forms of ocean camouflage.
Some species of fish have microscopic structures called platelets in their skin and scales. These platelets look...Readability Score: 7.4
Dogs first snuggled up with people in Central Asia. That’s the conclusion of a new study looking at genetic diversity in these popular pets. Earlier findings had suggested dogs were first tamed elsewhere.
Laura Shannon works at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. As an evolutionary geneticist, she studies how traits in a species have changed over enormous spans of time. For the new study...Readability Score: 7.8
The DNA of our human ancestors looked very different almost 2 million years ago, before they migrated out of Africa. That’s the conclusion of a new study. It mapped a range of differences, or diversity, in the human genome. This genome is the complete DNA instruction book present in nearly every human cell.
DNA is a long ladder-like molecule. Each of its rungs consists of two chemicals...Readability Score: 7.5
Two partial skeletons set a new record for the oldest ancestral relative of today's birds. Remains of these early birds turned up in northeastern China.
Fossil hunters discovered the bones of the hummingbird-sized creatures. Both were embedded in siltstone slabs. They come from a site that once may have been a lake. Stubby feathers covered the ancient birds' bodies. The only bald spots...Readability Score: 6.2
Ocean animals have been getting bigger over the last half-billion years. Not a little bigger. Not even a lot bigger. They have mushroomed gigantically, scientists now conclude.
Their new finding lends support for something known as “Cope’s rule.” It holds that animals tend to evolve into species that are much larger than their distant ancestors. This hypothesis takes its name from the...Readability Score: 7.7
Flash back 540 million years. It’s the dawn of a new era, and something very, very big is about to happen to life on Earth. Over the next 10 million years — a blink of an eye in our planet’s long history — dozens of new forms of animals will suddenly emerge in the oceans.
This burst of life marked the start of a period in Earth’s history called the Cambrian. It was so dramatic and so...Readability Score: 8.3