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When studying Earth’s past, researchers want to understand how nutrients like nitrogen cycled and the impact biology had on them. Scientists rely on ancient rock, soil, fossils, and marine sediment to understand the world that used to be.  Approximately 2.5 billion years ago, oxygenic photosynthesis, the form of…

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Sexually reproducing animals have their sex determined through many mechanisms. Sex in reptiles such as alligators is determined by egg temperature during incubation. Some species, like the clownfish, can be hermaphroditic, shifting from one gender to another depending on the environmental conditions. However, most…

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Genes are the blueprints of organisms. Your hair color, height, voice, and many other traits, all are determined by the genes. You inherited half of these genes from your mother and half from your father when you were conceived. However, every once in a while some genes that aren’t part of your family tree will sneak…

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Evolution explains how living things change over successive generations, giving rise to diversity. Across the evolutionary history of Earth, the formation, changes, and extinction of species have been observed. Even though evolution happens very slowly, we see evidence of its action in the shared traits among seemingly…

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The term “Darwin’s finches” was first used in 1936 to describe a group of birds from the Galápagos Islands. One of the key differences between each species of finch was the drastic difference in beak size and its effect on what the bird eats. For example, a bird with a very long beak can access seeds and nectar…

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A paper authored by Mario Bronzanti, Oliver Rauhut, Jonathas Bittencourt, and Max Langer in September of this year traced the evolution of the brain in the largest animals to ever walk the planet—the sauropods. The authors studied a braincase from Saturnalia tupiniquim, an ancestral form of sauropod called a…

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How does a cell stay alive? How do molecules in a cell “know” how to react with one another? Does this chemistry become more complex over time, and if so, why? In Dr. Betül Kacar’s lab at Harvard University, scientists look for answers. In order to understand how a complex communication system…