Exploring evolution through genes, computers and history

  • The sexy sabercat: how the sabertooth got its teeth

    The sexy sabercat: how the sabertooth got its teeth

    By Lucas Brouwers | November 4, 2013 |

    Homotherium was a sabercat that survived until the last Ice Age. This skull is from the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle in Paris. Many sabertooths have stalked this world. The first sabertoothed mammals appeared over 50 million years ago. […]

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  • How genetic plunder transformed a microbe into a pink, salt-loving scavenger

    By Lucas Brouwers | April 22, 2013 |

    The Pink Lakes in Australia are coloured pink by salt-loving microbes. Photo by Neilsphotography. Most cells would shrivel to death in a salt lake. But not the Halobacteria . These microbes thrive in brine, painting waters a gentle pink or crimson red wherever they bloom. […]

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  • Animal vision evolved 700 million years ago

    By Lucas Brouwers | November 20, 2012 |

    All animal eyes and eye-spots contain opsin, a protein that captures light. This is the compound eye of Antarctic krill. Photo by Gerd Alberti and Uwe Kills Gaze deep into any animal eye and you will find opsin, the protein through which we see the world. […]

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  • Book review: Survival of the Beautiful

    By Lucas Brouwers | October 25, 2012 |

    Satin bowerbirds decorate their bowers with all things blue. Picture by thinboyfatter . Sometimes all you have to do to make me buy your book, is think of a good title. Survival of the Beautiful by David Rothenberg definitely did the trick. "No one ever mentions the beautiful", I thought when I took the book from its shelf in a London book store. […]

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  • The floor is yours!

    By Lucas Brouwers | July 5, 2012 |

    Carving blog posts one by one. Photo theangryblender Today, the Scientific American blogging network celebrates its very first birthday. It has been a tremendous ride so far, and I would really like to thank you for reading along so far, but there's one little question I wanted to get out of the way first: Who are you? […]

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  • Ancient fish had the backbone of a landlubber

    By Lucas Brouwers | May 23, 2012 |

    Evolution has a knack for confronting us with strange and unexpected questions. One of them echoed through the halls of the Collections Centre of the National Museum of Scotland, not too long ago: "Why does a fish need a sacrum!?" Lauren Sallan was peering through her microscope, studying a fossil specimen of Tarrasius , when she noticed something odd. […]

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  • Livestock bacteria are as old as the livestock they kill

    By Lucas Brouwers | May 14, 2012 |

    Aurochs were the ancestors of domestic cattle. Photo Marcus Sümnick Animals were wilder then. Horns were longer, temperaments fiercer. These wild things had forever been free when humans took control of their flocks and herds, 10.000 years ago. Through careful breeding and rearing, the first pastoralists of the Near East moulded the beasts into more docile versions of their former selves. […]

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  • A Spoonful of Molybdenum, some Ulysses and the Origin of Life

    By Lucas Brouwers | April 12, 2012 |

    The robotic submarine Hercules explores Lost City, a hydrothermal vent system in the center of the Atlantic Ocean. Image courtesy Deborah Kelley (University of Washington), Institute for Exploration, URI-IAO, and NOAA. "Have you ever read Ulysses?" The question catches me off guard. […]

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  • Thanks to Extra Genes, Eels Transform from Ribbons to Tubes

    By Lucas Brouwers | March 14, 2012 |

    A wild eel in the Grevelingenmeer. Photo shot by Arne Kuilman , all rights reserved. Few animals travel so far to have sex as the European eel. When autumn comes, these eels leave their lakes and rivers and embark on an arduous journey towards the Sargasso sea. […]

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  • Antarctica's Erratic Climate Shaped Icefish Evolution

    By Lucas Brouwers | February 22, 2012 |

    Larva of a crocodile icefish. Photo by Uwe Kils. Few fish would survive a swim in Antartica's ice-covered waters. Temperatures can drop to -1.9 ℃, whereas a typical fish starts to freeze at -0.8 ℃. If the water is colder, microscopic ice crystals will soon infiltrate the fish through gills and skin and start growing from within. […]

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