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Resource library Teaching materials Evolution 101

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Advanced resources

The following resources from our library cover advanced topics.

A look at linguistic evolution
We typically think of evolution occurring within populations of organisms. But in fact, evolutionary concepts can be applied even beyond the biological world. Any system that has variation, differential reproduction, and some form of inheritance will evolve if given enough time. Find out how an understanding of evolution can illuminate the field of linguistics.
This article appears at SpringerLink.

Biological warfare and the coevolutionary arms race
The rough-skinned newt looks harmless enough but is, in fact, packed full of one of the most potent neurotoxins known to man. Find out how an evolutionary arms race has pushed these mild-mannered critters to the extremes of toxicity and how evolutionary biologists have unraveled their fascinating story.

Bringing homologies into focus
There's more to homologies and analogies than the iconic examples (e.g., the tetrapod limb) found in every high school textbook. This article goes beyond the basics to explore the many evolutionary scenarios that result in homoplasies and the many levels at which homologies might occur.
This article appears at SpringerLink.

Cells within cells: An extraordinary claim with extraordinary evidence
When biologist Lynn Margulis revived the strange-sounding idea that the merging of cells played a prominent role in the evolution of complex life, the scientific community roundly rejected the notion. Today, this idea is accepted as a textbook fact. Learn more about the evidence and social factors that spurred the acceptance of this key aspect of evolutionary theory.
This article is available from the Understanding Science website.

DNA and mutations
Mutations are the ultimate source of genetic variation and are therefore, essential to evolution. Learn more about the causes, effects, and types of mutations, as well as their role in evolution.

Evo in the News: "Error. Greed does not compute."
This news brief from May 2011 describes how researchers are using tiny robots to study the evolution of altruistic behaviors.

Evo in the news: A species' unwelcome inheritance - extinction risk
Even as the world loses species at an unprecedented rate, conservationists are struggling to save them. But where should they focus their efforts? This news brief from September 2009 describes new research suggesting that evolutionary history is an important factor in determining which species are at the gravest risk of extinction.

Evo in the News: Acidic oceans prompt evolution
This news brief, from October 2012, describes new research into the evolutionary response that ocean acidification may prompt in some plankton species.

Evo in the news: Evolution in the fast lane?
Have humans, with all of our technological advances, exempted ourselves from further evolution? Perhaps not. This news brief, from February 2008, examines genetic research which suggests that human evolution may haved actually accelerated in our recent history.

Evo in the news: Gender-biased bacteria throw off an evolutionary balance
The percentage of southwestern whiteflies infected with Rickettsia bacteria has skyrocketed; but this is not a boon for local farmers, as the bacterium actively helps the pest spread. This news brief examines how evolutionary theory accounts for this and how we might turn it in our favor.

Evo in the news: Genealogy enthusiasts mine DNA for clues to evolutionary history
This news brief, from November 2007, turns an evolutionary lens on businesses that use DNA for genealogy research and, in the process, illuminates what their genetic tests really track.

Evo in the news: Got lactase?
The ability to digest milk is a recent evolutionary innovation that has spread through some human populations. This news brief from April 2007 describes how evolution has allowed different human populations to take advantage of the nutritional possibilities of dairying and links evolution with the prevalence of lactose tolerance among people of different ethnicities.

Evo in the News: Grasshoppers change their tune. Is it evolution in action?
This news brief, from December 2012, describes new research into how traffic noise affects insect populations. Several hypotheses to explain the change in grasshoppers' songs are examined.

Evo in the news: HIV's not-so-ancient history
First described in 1981, HIV is a distinctly modern disease. But for how long before its discovery did HIV lurk unnoticed in human populations? This news brief from November 2008 describes new research offering insight into when (and how) HIV got its start.

Evo in the News: Lessons for today in ancient mass extinctions
This news brief, from May 2012, describes new research on the end-Ordovician mass extinction and the lessons we might glean about extinctions going on around us today.

Evo in the news: Making sense of ancient hominin DNA
In March 2010 German researchers announced that they had managed to extract DNA from the 40,000 year old fossil bone from a child discovered in a Siberian cave and that it didn't match up to the known genetic sequences of either humans or Neanderthals! This news brief examines the evidence in more detail and considers what that evidence might — or might not — mean about such claims.

Evo in the news: One small fossil, one giant step for polar bear evolution
This news brief from April 2010 describes what scientists have learned by extracting DNA from a polar bear fossil more than 100,000 years old. Though the fossil itself was just a fragment of the skeleton—the lower left portion of the jaw, still containing a tooth—the DNA had a lot to say about polar bear evolution.

Evo in the news: Seeing the tree for the twigs
Recent research has revealed that, in at least some ways, chimpanzees have evolved more than humans have. This news brief from May 2007 delves into this finding further and, in the process, debunks common misperceptions of human evolution.

Evo in the news: Sex, speciation, and fishy physics
More than 500 species of cichlid fish inhabit Africa's Lake Victoria. This news brief from March 2009 explains new research suggesting that the physics of light may have played an important role in cichlid diversification and in the recent drop in their diversity.

Evo in the News: What comes after mass extinctions?
This news brief, from September 2012, describes the aftermath of mass extinctions--what happens to surviving species in the wake of a massive extinction event.

Evo in the News: When fighting leukemia, evolutionary history matters
This news brief, from December 2011, describes how evolutionary history can factor into the success of a bone marrow transplant.

Evo in the news: Where did all of Madagascar's species come from?
Recently, political unrest in Madagascar has threatened to set back the island’s expanding conservation efforts, and criminals have taken advantage of the instability, looting protected forests for rare wood. This news story from October 2009 turns back the clock to consider the biogeographic processes that made Madagascar into a biodiversity hotspot in the first place.

Understanding the process of development can help us understand how some major evolutionary changes occurred and why others did not.

Evolution: Applications in human health and populations
In a series of six lectures, scientists describe how evolutionary theory makes contributions to the field of human health through studies of the human genome, physiology, lifestyle, and interaction with the environment.
This resource appears at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center website.

Evolutionary biology: Technology for the 21st century
The evolutionary biologist Jim Bull gives his perspective on how evolution matters to society today: from producing polio vaccines to solving tabloid-style crimes.
This article appears at ActionBioscience.org.

Fire ants invade and evolve
Understanding the evolution of fire ants may help scientists control the spread of these pests, which have already taken over much of the U.S.

From soup to cells - The origin of life
Delve into our current understandings of the origins of life and how scientists are able to investigate the details of such ancient events.
This article is located within Evolution 101.

High altitude adaptations: The work of Emilia Huerta-Sánchez
This research profile follows statistician and population geneticist Emilia Huerta-Sánchez as she studies the adaptations that allow Tibetan highlanders to live 13,000 feet above sea level without developing altitude sickness.

Interview: Douglas Futuyma on natural selection
This interview with one of the most influential evolutionary biologists of today addresses many aspects of natural selection: how it works, examples, misconceptions, and implications.
This article appears at ActionBioscience.org.

Interview: Geerat Vermeij on the Fossil record
This interview with MacArthur Fellow and paleobiologist, Geerat Vermeij, covers much ground, including adaptations in the mollusks he studies, evolutionary arms races, punctuated equilibrium, extinctions, macroevolution, and the value of diversity.

Interview: Nicole King on the origins of multicellularity
Biologist and UC Berkeley Professor Nicole King explains how she investigates a major transition in evolutionary history: the evolution of multicellular life forms from unicellular ones.
This article appears at ActionBioscience.org.

It takes teamwork: How endosymbiosis changed life on Earth
You might be surprised to learn that descendents of an ancient bacterium are living in every cell of your body! Find out how endosymbiosis factored into the evolution of your own cells and learn about a modern example of this process.

La herencia inoportuna de una especie: riesgo de extinción
El tema de septiembre, biodiversidad y conservación, en celebración del Año de la Ciencia, la historia de este mes esta basada en el enemigo de la diversidad: la extinción. El mundo se enfrenta a lo que podría ser la sexta extinción masiva. Estamos perdiendo especies a un ritmo sin precedentes — 100 a 1000 veces más alto que a lo largo de la mayor parte de la historia de la tierra...

Origin of modern humans: Multiregional or out of Africa?
Learn more about your own history from paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson. He describes how and when early humans evolved, Homo sapiens’ ancestors and relatives, and the diverse lines of evidence relating to this history.
This article appears at ActionBioscience.org.

Phylogenetic systematics, a.k.a. evolutionary trees
Learn about phylogenetic systematics, the study of the evolutionary relationships among organisms, and how the field is shaping biological research today.

Ring species: Unusual demonstrations of speciation
Ring species, though a rare situation, provide valuable insights into how speciation occurs.
This article appears at ActionBioscience.org.

Sexo, especiación y física subacuática
Evolución en las noticias relata una reciente historia que señala como comprender física básica puede revelar como la evolución esta ocurriendo hoy — en especial, como la física de la luz tiene influencia sobre la selección sexual, especiación y el colapso de la biodiversidad, producto de la polución causada por los humanos...

Species, speciation and the environment
Niles Eldredge gives a historical overview of scientists' thinking on the process of speciation, along with modern perspectives on this issue.
This article appears at ActionBioscience.org.

The Monterey Pine through geologic time
Understanding the evolutionary history of the Monterey Pine may help us conserve this species.

Understanding evolutionary trees
Many disciplines within biology (and many basic biology texts) have come to depend on evolutionary trees. Get the basics you need to understand and interpret these key diagrams.
This article appears at SpringerLink.

Using trees to uproot HIV: The work of Satish Pillai
This research profile follows scientist Satish Pillai as he studies the evolution of HIV within infected individuals. His research uses the tools of phylogenetics to investigate vaccine development and the possibility of curing the disease.

Webcast: Fossils, genes, and embryos
In lecture three of a four part series, evolutionary biologist David Kingsley examines the original objections to Darwin's theory and shows how modern evidence supports the theory.
This lecture is available from Howard Hughes' BioInteractive website.

Webcast: Selection in action
In lecture two of a four part series, evolutionary biologist David Kingsley discusses how just a few small genetic changes can have a big effect on morphology, using examples from maize, dog breeding, and stickleback fish.
This lecture is available from Howard Hughes' BioInteractive website.

Why the eye?
Eyes are something of an icon of evolution. How did such an integrated, multi-part adaptation evolve? While many different animals have complex eyes, untangling their evolutionary history reveals both remarkable diversity and surprising similarity.

¿De donde vienen todas las especies de Madagascar?
Continuando la celebración del tema de Octubre en el Año de la Ciencia, las ciencias de la tierra y el planeta Tierra, la historia de este mes se centra en cómo la geografía y la geología han moldeado la evolución de la vida en uno de los lugares más singulares de la Tierra. Madagascar, la cuarta isla más grande del mundo, se encuentra en el Océano Índico a varios cientos de kilómetros de la costa sureste de África y constituye el hogar de una notable variedad de especies vegetales y animales, incluido el aye aye, la fossa, el camaleón y el árbol baobab...