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This Courting Bird Has More Dance Moves Than John Travolta

When they’re courting, male Carola’s Parotia put on one hell of a show. Whenever this bird-of-paradise from New Guinea gets females to visit his painstakingly-prepared display court, he runs through six specific dance moves, each of which has to be performed well, and in the right order, to convince a female he’s a worthy mate.

Biologists Say Breeding Better Soil Microbes Can Help Grow Bigger Plants

It may be possible to grow better, healthier crops with just a syringe and some careful observation. That’s all you need to breed better soil microbes, which can have a big effect on how well plants grow, according to new research.

Viruses Are Alive, And They Share An Ancestor With Modern Cells

Viruses are living things after all, and they share an early evolutionary history with the cells that make up the bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals we know today. That’s according to new research on the evolutionary history of viruses and cells, published in the journal Science Advances.

You Can 3D Print Your Own Homo Naledi Specimens

If you’re excited about last week’s announcement of a new human-like species discovered in South Africa, you can get your hands on the specimens — sort of. You can print your own 3D replicas of Homo naledi and several other important hominin finds.

Scientists Have Drafted A Complete Tree Of Life 

Humans, bacteria, daffodils: We’re a diverse bunch on the surface, but trace each and every Earthling back far enough, and you’ll arrive at a common ancestor. For the first time, scientists have built a comprehensive tree of life that binds us all together.

Parasitic Wasps Genetically Enslave Butterflies

It’s official: Parasitic wasps are the slave drivers of the insect kingdom. But if you’re thinking whips and chains, you’re not giving evolution nearly enough credit. Wasps enslave with biological warfare, genetically programming caterpillars to be the perfect hosts.

What Is The Molecular Clock, Exactly?

In the 150 years since Charles Darwin recognised the kinship of all life, scientists have worked to fulfil his dream of a complete Tree of Life. Today, the methods used to trace the evolutionary branches back through time would exceed Darwin’s expectations. Scientists across a range of biological disciplines use a technique called the molecular clock, where the past is deciphered by reading the stories written in the genes of living organisms.

A Mad Science Experiment Proves A Simple Evolutionary Hypothesis

You may consider your eyes a priceless commodity, but for Mexican cavefish, they were a burdensome expense. In a first-of-a-kind study, scientists have figured out exactly how much energy an animal saves by abandoning vision — in this case, anywhere from 5 to 15%.

Humans Are Wired For Laziness, Study Finds

In news that definitely isn’t going to help me achieve my half marathon goal, a team of Canadian researchers is claiming that human beings are biologically wired to be lazy. Awesome.

Sperm Whale Clans Speak Different Dialects

We humans pride ourselves on our cultural diversity, but we’re not the only creatures that form unique societies. Turns out, two clans of sperm whales living near the Galápagos Islands speak different dialects — offering yet more evidence that animals have culture, too.

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