Green frog in tree with green leaves
For Frogs, Bigger Brains Mean Worse Camouflage
Frogs invest in cognitive capacity to avoid predators—up until there are too many hungry snakes around for the evolutionary strategy to pay off.
For Frogs, Bigger Brains Mean Worse Camouflage
For Frogs, Bigger Brains Mean Worse Camouflage

Frogs invest in cognitive capacity to avoid predators—up until there are too many hungry snakes around for the evolutionary strategy to pay off.

Frogs invest in cognitive capacity to avoid predators—up until there are too many hungry snakes around for the evolutionary strategy to pay off.

phylogenetics
A yellow-orange, translucent artist's rendition of a yunnanozoan, an ancient wormlike fish, that highlights the arches that make up its cartilage skeleton.
This Simple Fish May Have Been One of the First Vertebrates
Dan Robitzski | Jul 7, 2022
A fossil analysis suggests that the yunnanozoan, a wormlike fish that flourished around 520 million years ago, sported structures that were the precursors of the head and jaws of modern vertebrates.
scanning electron microscope image of clawlike microscopic organisms on a smoother surface
Phyla of Tiny Filter Feeders Find a New Spot on the Tree of Life
Alejandra Manjarrez | Jul 6, 2022
A new study using fairly complete genetic datasets of two phyla of small suspension feeders (Ectoprocta and Entoprocta) reopens the debate on the phylogenetic relationships between them and other animals.
Illustration of a DNA virus sneaking genetic material into a host’s nucleus
Infographic: Possible Mechanisms of Gene Transfer in Eukaryotes
Christie Wilcox | Jul 5, 2022
Genetic studies have made it clear that eukaryotic horizontal gene transfer can and does happen. Exactly how, though, remains speculative.
Cow image
Slideshow: Examples of Eukaryotic Horizontal Gene Transfer
Christie Wilcox | Jul 5, 2022
Horizontally transferred genes play significant roles in eukaryotic genomes
Landscape illustration
Horizontal Gene Transfer Happens More Often Than Anyone Thought
Christie Wilcox | Jul 5, 2022
DNA passed to and from all kinds of organisms, even across kingdoms, has helped shape the tree of life, to a large and undisputed degree in microbes and also unexpectedly in multicellular fungi, plants, and animals.
Black and white photo of excavation<br><br>
Black Death Likely Originated in Central Asia
Andy Carstens | Jun 15, 2022
Genetic testing of people who died in Kyrgyzstan eight years before plague reached Europe reveals an ancient strain of the bacterium Yersinia pestis.
Photo of fish in the Haemulidae family
Fish Are Chattier Than Previously Thought
Connor Lynch | May 2, 2022
Once thought to be silent, fish turn out to produce a range of vocalizations—so polluting the oceans with noise could pose a danger to them.
Close up photo of a wing
Unearthing the Evolutionary Origins of Insect Wings
Jef Akst | Apr 4, 2022
A handful of new studies moves the needle toward a consensus on the long-disputed question of whether insect wings evolved from legs or from the body wall, but the devil is in the details.
Photo of a Jewel beetle <em>(Sternocera aequisignata)</em>.
Why Are Some Beetles Shiny? It’s Not What Researchers Thought
Connor Lynch | Mar 1, 2022
The glossy shell of some beetles, it has long been speculated, helps hide the insects from predators. A recent paper put the hypothesis to the test—and found it wanting.
stone panel depicting a horselike animal led by ropes around the neck
Ancient Mesopotamians Bred Horselike Hybrids
Chris Baraniuk | Jan 14, 2022
A genomics study reveals the parentage of a long-mysterious creature called a kunga, the earliest-known hybrid animal bred by humans.
5 images related to stories highlighted in the article, including DNA strand, insect, and dog
Our Favorite Genetics Stories of 2021
Christie Wilcox | Dec 23, 2021
Studies The Scientist covered this year illustrate the expanding importance of genetic and genomic research in all aspects of life science, from ecology to medicine.
The man-of-war fish (Nomeus gronovii), a species of medusafish, near the tentacles of a siphonophore.
Medusafishes Are Grouped by Shared, Odd Traits: Study
Devin A. Reese | Dec 1, 2021
Shared features, such as thick, slimy skin and a throat filled with teeth, suggest that medusafishes are all related.
a colorful ctenophore/comb jelly swimming
Genome Spotlight: California Sea Gooseberry (Hormiphora californensis)
Christie Wilcox | Nov 24, 2021
The first chromosome-level genome assembly for a ctenophore may allow scientists to finally resolve the roots of the animal family tree.
A scanning electron micrograph of the picozoan Picomonas judraskeda
Picozoans Are Algae After All: Study
Christie Wilcox | May 6, 2021
Phylogenomics data place the enigmatic plankton in the middle of the algal family tree, despite their apparent lack of plastids—an organelle characteristic of all other algae.
An illustration of an orange bacteriophage virus sitting on top of a green bacterium
Some Viruses Use an Alternative Genetic Alphabet
Abby Olena | Apr 29, 2021
In a trio of studies, researchers follow up on a 40-year-old finding that certain bacteriophages replace adenine with so-called diaminopurine, perhaps to avoid host degradation.
seattle coronavirus outbreak pandemic covid-19 sars-cov-2 genome wa1 washington transmission wuhan china
First US Outbreak of COVID-19 Seeded in Mid-February: Preprint
Kerry Grens | May 27, 2020
A modeling study counters initial interpretations that the cluster began with someone who flew to Seattle in mid-January.
Image of the Day: Vestibular System
Amy Schleunes | Mar 13, 2020
The inner ear cavity proves to be a useful tool for studying the evolutionary relationships among monkeys, apes, and humans.
Genomes Sequenced for Every US and Canada Butterfly
Emily Makowski | Nov 20, 2019
Researchers analyzed more than 800 species.
Image of the Day: Beetle Evolution
Emily Makowski | Nov 19, 2019
Plants, fungi, and bacteria likely contributed to insect diversity.