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It’s not just human toddlers that are fussy eaters

Posted on 3 Apr 2017 in Animal Behaviour, Evolution, Featured, Journalism

Food is often in short supply, so why would a toddler or young animal refuse to eat when it is available? A full explanation is still some way away, but biologists have developed several ideas that can help to explain why. Image: Muffet

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Recoded organism paves way to new genetic language of life

Posted on 15 Mar 2017 in Genetics, Journalism

A form of life that uses a fresh genetic “language” could be just a few years away. This comes after geneticists used a new technique to recode 5 per cent of the Salmonella bacterium’s genome, introducing a record number of engineered changes into a single organism. Image: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

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Neanderthals may have medicated with penicillin and painkillers

Posted on 8 Mar 2017 in Archaeology, Featured, Human Origins, Journalism

What a difference 1000 kilometres make. Neanderthals living in prehistoric Belgium enjoyed their meat – but the Neanderthals who lived in what is now northern Spain seem to have survived on an almost exclusively vegetarian diet. Image: Paleoanthropology Group MNCN-CSIC

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Traces in rock may be the oldest evidence of life on Earth ever

Posted on 1 Mar 2017 in Earth Science, Evolution, Featured, Journalism

Are we closing in on life’s cradle? What is claimed to be the oldest evidence of life on Earth yet found backs the idea that the first microbes originated around hydrothermal vents on the seafloor – but the work is already proving controversial. Image: Matthew Dodd

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Skulls reveal that ancient Americans didn’t mix with neighbours

Posted on 22 Feb 2017 in Archaeology, Journalism

It’s a real head-scratcher. The shapes of human skulls from a narrow strip in Mexico reveal that first arrivals to the Americas may have kept to themselves, even when there were no geographical barriers that would have prevented them mixing. Image: Andre Strauss

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Being friendly puts monkeys at risk in times of revolution

Posted on 5 Feb 2017 in Animal Behaviour, Journalism

Being too friendly can be costly. When a new alpha male takes over, female capuchin monkeys are more likely to lose their offspring to infanticide if they have an extensive network of social contacts than if they don’t. Image: inottawa

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