evolution
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Australia's Most Infamous Invasive Species Has A Problem With Breeding

Cane toads were first released in Australia in 1935 as part of a government program to control the insects attacking the Queensland cane crop. It didn’t work. Ever since, the toads have been spreading across the country, as fast as they can breed. Which would be even faster, if it weren’t for an odd quirk in their mating strategies.


Spiders Sail Kilometres Across Water To Colonise The World

Hate spiders all you want, there’s no river wide enough to keep them away. Turns out, nature’s crafty little web builders are also master sailors, using their legs to catch the wind and their silk to anchor their bodies on water.


The Biggest Kangaroos Evolved Long Arms To Fight Over Females

Male kangaroos and wallabies, like a lot of seemingly quiet grazing animals, get into knock-down drag-out fights over females. They obviously don’t have antlers or horns to spar with, but they’re perfectly willing to grapple rivals with their forelimbs and kick the crap out of each other with their big hind feet.


Not Safe For Play? The Evolution Of Pinball Machines

Game of skills or evil gambling? It is hard to believe that there was a long period in the history of arcade games when pinball machines, these amazing mixtures of art, design, engineering, technology, gaming, sport, culture and so on, were banned. It was illegal to own even just one.


Far From Sterile, Some Hybrids May Start New Species

Your schoolteachers probably told you most species wouldn’t (or maybe couldn’t) successfully interbreed with one another. If some did, their hybrid offspring, like mules, couldn’t have babies of their own. That explanation was a bit oversimplified. Hybridisation happens, and it may be one way new species arise.


What Made The Y Chromosome So Tiny?

The Y chromosome, a chunk of genetic code that is unique to male animals, isn’t just physically smaller than the X. It also contains far fewer genes. The X has more than 1000 genes, while the Y has fewer than 200 — and most of them don’t even work. Why do men have this odd, stunted chromosome in their genomes?


Giraffes And The 'Necks For Sex' Hypothesis

Sexual selection doesn’t necessarily just shape sexual anatomy — it can have as profound an effect on the rest of an animal’s body as natural selection does. In both cases, the end result is more babies for animals that look or act a particular way.


Male Butterflies Ejaculate, Female Butterflies Digest

A mating system that puts the sexes in conflict can evolve some pretty extreme copulatory structures. Spiky penises and twisty vaginas are the tip of the iceberg. According to a study in the Journal of Experimental Biology last week, we should add protein-melting vaginal tracts to the list.


These Eerie Millipedes Glow In The Dark Because Of Stress

We all have our own different coping mechanisms when it comes to stress. A nice walk outside. A cold beer. A punching bag. Blowing up at your friends. And glowing in the dark. What? Scientists believe that these millipedes evolved to glow in the dark to deal with stress (and to let predators now that they’re packing toxic cyanide).


Ancient Asteroid Impacts Boiled The Oceans And Made Life On Earth Hell

Roughly 3.3 billion years ago, Earth’s early life forms were plunged into an unimaginable hell, when a series of massive asteroids smashed into the young planet, vaporising the oceans and scorching the skies.


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