Evolution

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Planting the seeds for a bioliterate tropical country

Ecologist Daniel H. Janzen has spent virtually all of his half-century career trying to catalogue and understand the creatures in a patch of dry tropical forest in northwestern Costa Rica. Little did he realize his efforts would evolve into building a sea-to-summit conservation area — and a drive to inventory all million species in the country in partnership with the Costa Rican government.

How do species adapt to their surroundings?

Several fish species can change sex as needed. Other species adapt to their surroundings by living long lives — or by living shorter lives and having lots of offspring. The ability of animals and plants to change can sometimes manifest in apparently extreme ways.

How plants respond to attacks

Plants have to defend themselves against drought, enemies and disease. But different threats demand different responses. So how do plants know what’s attacking them?

Norwegian public asked to name a species

The moss world will never be the same. The moss Norwegian researchers thought they knew has played a trick on them. In return, researchers are calling on the Norwegian public to name a new species.

In the bullfinch world, she gets to decide

A lot of birdwatchers like the bullfinch. They’ve probably noticed that the female can chase off the more colourful male from the bird feeder. That makes this species different.

Vampire bats’ bloody teamwork

Vampire bats are the only mammals that feed exclusively on blood. The way they manage to do that offers us some remarkable insights into evolution.

Is the woolly mammoth really gone for good?

Should we reintroduce animal species that have died out? New technology may offer opportunities that no one could imagine a few decades ago. But the answer may not be as simple as you think.

Why the passenger pigeon died out

The passenger pigeon was once among the most numerous species on earth. The last passenger pigeon died in the Cinncinati Zoo just over 100 years ago. How did it all go so wrong?

Brawler at the bird feeder

The common redpoll gets into brawls when it seems like it should really be watching out for enemies. How can that end well?

Stress in the nest can have lifelong effect

Why do some sparrows hatch six chicks while others don’t hatch any? How does upbringing affect the remainder of their lives? Physiological stress in the nest can actually affect birds’ DNA and possibly their lifespan.

Human Evolution in the Sea at Bioko

Did some of our human features evolve while our ancestors were living in water? The aquatic ape theory has been disregarded by paleoanthropologists, but it deserves another chance.

Avian songsters

Bird songs have many functions, but their main purpose is to attract a mate. Some of the best avian singers are described below.