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From the College of Natural Sciences
Caught in the Act: Population of Butterflies Appears to Be Splitting Into Two Species

Caught in the Act: Population of Butterflies Appears to Be Splitting Into Two Species

Breaking up may actually not be hard to do, say scientists who've found a population of tropical butterflies that may be on its way to a split into two distinct species. The cause of this particular break-up? A shift in wing color and mate preference.

Electric Fish Plug In to Communicate

Electric Fish Plug In to Communicate

Just as people plug in to computers, smart phones and electric outlets to communicate, electric fish communicate by quickly plugging special channels into their cells to generate electrical impulses, neurobiologists have discovered.

Ant Has Given Up Sex Completely

Ant Has Given Up Sex Completely

The complete asexuality of a widespread fungus-gardening ant, the only ant species in the world known to have dispensed with males entirely, has been confirmed by a team of Texas and Brazilian researchers.

New Method for Computing Evolutionary Trees

Detailed, accurate evolutionary trees that reveal the relatedness of living things can now be determined much faster and for thousands of species with a new computing method.

Amazonian Amphibian Diversity Traced to Andes

Amazonian Amphibian Diversity Traced to Andes

AUSTIN, Texas — Colorful poison frogs in the Amazon owe their great diversity to ancestors that leapt into the region from the Andes Mountains several times during the last 10 million years, a new study from The University of Texas at Austin suggests. This is the first study to show that the Andes have been a major source of diversity for the Amaz...

Biologist Studies Evolution of HIV

AUSTIN, Texas--Dr. Sara Sawyer, an evolutionary biologist, will use a $120,000 grant from the Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR) to study how the HIV virus and the cells it attacks have evolved together over time. The goal of her research is to discover new targets for drugs. When HIV infiltrates cells, the virus hijacks its host's genetic m...
Discovery of Giant Roaming Deep Sea Protist Provides New Perspective on Animal Evolution

Discovery of Giant Roaming Deep Sea Protist Provides New Perspective on Animal Evolution

AUSTIN, Texas — Groove-like tracks on the ocean floor made by giant deep-sea single-celled organisms could lead to new insights into the evolutionary origin of animals, says biologist Mikhail "Misha" Matz from The University of Texas at Austin. Matz and his colleagues recently discovered the grape-sized protists and their complex tracks on the oce...
Oldest Living Lineage of Ants Discovered in the Amazon

Oldest Living Lineage of Ants Discovered in the Amazon

AUSTIN, Texas—A new species of blind, subterranean, predatory ant discovered in the Amazon rainforest by University of Texas at Austin evolutionary biologist Christian Rabeling is likely a descendant of the very first ants to evolve. The new ant is named Martialis heureka, which translates roughly to “ant from Mars,” because the ant has a combinat...

Genes Evolve to Minimize Protein Production Errors

AUSTIN, Texas--Genetic evolution is strongly shaped by genes’ efforts to prevent or tolerate errors in the production of proteins, scientists at The University of Texas at Austin and Harvard University have found. Their study also suggests that the cost of errors in protein production may lie in the malformed proteins themselves, rather than in th...

Scientists Find New Clues to Explain Amazonian Biodiversity

AUSTIN, Texas--Ice age climate change and ancient flooding—but not barriers created by rivers—may have promoted the evolution of new insect species in the Amazon region of South America, a new study suggests. The Amazon basin is home to the richest diversity of life on earth, yet the reasons why this came to be are not well understood. A team of ...