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From the College of Natural Sciences
Scientists Discover New Details about Metabolism in Ancestors of All Complex Life

Scientists Discover New Details about Metabolism in Ancestors of All Complex Life

A team of researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden, The University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere, have found new evidence that strengthens the hypothesis that the first complex life forms, called eukaryotes, arose from the merger of two simpler life forms. The same team previously identified living relatives of ancestors of eukaryotes, while this latest study shows how those ancestors might have shared the work of metabolism with bacteria they acted as hosts for.

Science—Coming to a Library Near You

Science—Coming to a Library Near You

Graduate student Emily Rees is among the UT Austin scientists who share their research with the public. Neighborhood Science is a new offering that connects researchers with local libraries. Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu.

Graduate students at UT Austin have been sharing their work with the public at the successful and popular program Science Under the Stars for ten years. Now, with a new offshoot offering called Neighborhood Science, the students, primarily from the top-ranked ecology, evolution and behavior program, are working to connect even more of the Austin community to science by bringing their informative and entertaining talks––on topics ranging from superheroes to singing mice––right into Austin Public Libraries.

Beauty, Bonding and Rethinking Evolution

Beauty, Bonding and Rethinking Evolution

Across the animal kingdom, males and females of the same species are often locked in a battle of the sexes. The instigator is evolution itself. It drives them to develop weapons, tactical tricks and defensive maneuvers that aid in an animal's fight to pass its genes on to a new generation.

Evolution Used Same Genetic Formula to Turn Animals Monogamous

Evolution Used Same Genetic Formula to Turn Animals Monogamous

In many non-monogamous species, females provide all or most of the offspring care. In monogamous species, parental care is often shared. In these frogs, parental care includes transporting tadpoles one by one after hatching to small pools of water. In the non-monogamous strawberry poison frog (Oophaga pumilio, left) moms perform this task; however, in the monogamous mimic poison frog (Ranitomeya imitator, right) this is dad's job. Credit: Yusan Yan and James Tumulty.

Why are some animals committed to their mates and others are not? According to a new study led by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin that looked at 10 species of vertebrates, evolution used a kind of universal formula for turning non-monogamous species into monogamous species — turning up the activity of some genes and turning down others in the brain.

Females Prefer City Frogs’ Tunes

Females Prefer City Frogs’ Tunes

Túngara frog females prefer the more complex mating calls of urban males.

Urban sophistication has real sex appeal — at least if you're a Central American amphibian. Male frogs in cities are more attractive to females than their forest-frog counterparts, according to a new study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Visualizing Science 2018: Beauty and Inspiration in College Research

Visualizing Science 2018: Beauty and Inspiration in College Research

Over the last six years, faculty, staff and students from across the College of Natural Sciences have submitted hundreds of images from their scholarly research for our annual Visualizing Science competition, and these images have been viewed by tens of thousands of people. The submitted images, often beautiful and stunning, are the ones that spoke to their creators, inspiring and informing them as they followed their scientific passions.

Fish’s Use of Electricity Might Shed Light on Human Illnesses

Fish’s Use of Electricity Might Shed Light on Human Illnesses

Brienomyrus brachyistius, commonly known as the baby whale.

Deep in the night in muddy African rivers, a fish uses electrical charges to sense the world around it and communicate with other members of its species. Signaling in electrical spurts that last only a few tenths of a thousandth of a second allows the fish to navigate without letting predators know it is there. Now scientists have found that the evolutionary trick these fish use to make such brief discharges could provide new insights, with a bearing on treatments for diseases such as epilepsy.

Leafcutter Ants' Success Due to More Than Crop Selection

Leafcutter Ants' Success Due to More Than Crop Selection

A rare peak inside the garden of a leafcutter ant colony reveals the queen (center-left), brood, and an extensive matrix of fungal hyphae that form both the nest structure and the insects' exclusive diet. Public domain image by Alex Wild, for the University of Texas at Austin's "Insects Unlocked" project.

A complex genetic analysis has biologists re-evaluating some long-held beliefs about the way societies evolved following the invention of agriculture—by six-legged farmers.

When Science Communication Doesn’t Get Through (Audio)

When Science Communication Doesn’t Get Through (Audio)

Climate change, vaccinations, evolution. Scientists sometimes struggle to get their message across to non-scientists. On the latest episode of the Point of Discovery podcast, what communications research can teach us about why science communication sometimes backfires, and what scientists can do about it.

Science Programs at UT Austin in Top 10 in U.S. News Ranking of Graduate Schools

Science Programs at UT Austin in Top 10 in U.S. News Ranking of Graduate Schools

Kasie Raymann. Photo by Vivian Abagiu.

The University of Texas at Austin is one of the public universities with the most top-ranked schools and academic programs in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2019 edition of "Best Graduate Schools," released this morning. The university has five programs across campus ranked No. 1 and 49 schools and specialties ranked among the nation's top 10.