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evolution

Where are the quokkas? New study explains what happened to the “happiest animal in the world”

Feb. 21, 2020—The quokka, a small marsupial native to Australia, is an example of a species vulnerable to extinction in the country’s harsh surroundings. In a new study, researchers at Vanderbilt University demonstrate evidence for the dramatic decline of quokkas over the past century.

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Leading evolutionary biologist Jonathan Losos to deliver 2020 Darwin Day Lecture

Feb. 10, 2020—Jonathan Losos, a world-renowned evolutionary biologist whose discoveries have shed light on how organisms diversify, will deliver the 2020 Darwin Day Lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 12.

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New method reveals how differences in the genetic “instruction booklet” between humans and Neanderthals influenced traits

Oct. 7, 2019—When it comes to our differences from Neanderthals, most of what we know comes from comparing fossils. But fossils can only tell us about bones and not whole living organisms. That’s changing thanks to a new paper from a team of genomics researchers at Vanderbilt, who have developed a first-of-its-kind computational method. Their approach uses...

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High standards of female songbirds could be driving their mates to evolve

Sep. 4, 2019—Picky females force male songbirds to become better singers.

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Rokas to lead budding cross-disciplinary collaboration on evolutionary studies

Aug. 14, 2019—The Vanderbilt Evolutionary Studies Initiative seeks to position the university as a global leader in evolutionary studies by engaging a large group of scholars who share this research interest.

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Intense look at La Brea Tar Pits explains why we have coyotes, not saber-toothed cats

Aug. 5, 2019—The most detailed study to date of ancient predators trapped in the La Brea Tar Pits is helping Americans understand why today we’re dealing with coyotes dumping over garbage cans and not saber-toothed cats ripping our arms off.

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Ediacaran dinner party featured plenty to eat, adequate sanitation, computer model shows

Jun. 19, 2019—“They are behaving like animals, and that’s a link between them and what we recognize as animals," says paleontologist Simon A.F. Darroch.

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Life in evolution’s fast lane

May. 21, 2019—A group of budding yeasts in the genus Hanseniaspora, which is closely related to the baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, has lost large numbers of genes related to cell cycle and DNA repair processes.

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Frog fungus fights back

May. 15, 2019—Louise Rollins-Smith and colleagues have discovered a new way that a deadly fungus evades frogs' immune systems.

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Dolphin ancestor’s hearing was more like hoofed mammals than today’s sea creatures

May. 15, 2019—The team, one of the first in the world to examine the ability’s origins, used a small CT scanner to look inside a 30-million-year-old ear bone fossil from a specimen resembling Olympicetus avitus.

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How attracting multiple mates affects flirting fads in birds

Feb. 22, 2019—For many species, extravagant displays are a critical part of attracting a mate. Think of a peacock’s long tail or a songbird’s elaborate melody. When considering these populations, scientists at Vanderbilt University wondered if they could use new methods to test a theory that has been around for almost 150 years: that having multiple reproductive...

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Earth’s oldest animals formed complex ecological communities

Sep. 17, 2018—Ediacara biota were forming complex communities tens of millions of years before the Cambrian explosion.

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