Originally published 12/03/2013
A fossil leaf fragment of Potomacapnos apeleutheron was originally discovered by freedmen in 1864.
Originally published 07/05/2013
An Australian bushman and naturalist claims to have captured video footage of the night parrot, a bird not seen alive for more than a century.John Young, who describes himself as a wildlife detective, showed the footage and a number of still photos of the bird to a packed room of enthusiasts and media at the Queensland Museum on Wednesday. The desert-dwelling night parrot, Pezoporus occidentalis, has never been photographed and the only evidence of its continued existence has been two dead birds found in 1990 and 2006.Wildlife authorities and birders responded to the sighting with excitement, saying the evidence supporting Young's claim was overwhelming....
Originally published 06/26/2013
Researchers have reconstructed an ancient genome that is 10 times as old as any retrieved so far, and now say that DNA should be recoverable from animals that lived one million years ago. This would greatly extend biologists’ ability to understand the evolutionary past.The genome was that of a horse that lived some 700,000 years ago in what is now the Yukon Territory in Canada, and its reconstruction has already led to new insights. The researchers who sequenced it then analyzed DNA from a less ancient horse, one that lived 43,000 years ago, as well as five contemporary horse breeds and a donkey named Willy that resides in the Copenhagen zoo. They concluded that the genus that gave rise to modern horses, zebras and donkeys — Equus — arose about four million years ago, twice as far back as had been thought.Before this work, the oldest genome that had been recovered was that of a Denisovan human who lived 70,000 years ago. The new finding, if accepted, would extend by tenfold the reach of paleogenomics, the study of ancient genomes reconstructed from fossil bones. Within the last few decades this young science has become a powerful complement to paleontology, the study of fossils, as a way of reconstructing evolutionary history....
Originally published 04/01/2013
David George Haskell, a professor of biology at Sewanee: The University of the South, is the author of “The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature.”BIOLOGY has returned to the nation’s highest court. It’s not Darwin’s theory of evolution on the docket this time, but the nature of sex. Defenders of Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage, base their case on what they call the “objective biological fact” that procreation is an exclusively heterosexual process. Citing the 18th-century English jurist William Blackstone, they argue that marriage should be “founded in nature.”
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