Interesting Evolution News

There are a number of interesting pieces of evolutionary research in the news. Some are a little on the old side…


Science Daily reports on research published in the Journal of Zoology on the diet of prehistoric bears:

The team of palaeontologists have reconstructed the trophic ecology, or eating habits, of two extinct bear species that lived during the Pleistocene (between 2.59 million and 12,000 years ago): the short-faced bear (Arctodus simus) of North America and the cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) of Europe. The morphometric analysis carried out on the eight bear species in existence today has confirmed that prehistoric bears were not fussy eaters.

The paper can be found here (and is open access)
PhysOrg.com has an interesting piece on the genetics of night vision. The piece is based on research published in Cell. From PhysOrg.com:

“Taken together, paleontological, molecular, and morphological data strongly suggest (1) that the inverted pattern appeared very early in the evolution of mammals as an adaptation to nocturnal vision in this primarily nocturnal group of animals, (2) that, correspondingly, the conventional pattern was repeatedly reacquired in mammals that readopted a diurnal lifestyle, and (3) that restoration of the conventional architecture most likely demanded selective pressure for the conventional nuclear architecture,” the researchers wrote. “Comparison of the inverted and conventional patterns can therefore highlight the advantageous features that predetermine the nearly universal prevalence of the conventional nuclear architecture.”

The Cell article can be found here (and is open access).
PhysOrg.Com also has a piece on coloration in animals:

Such mimicry is good for the defenceless species which predators can mistake for a daunting adversary, but is bad for nasty species which might be
mistaken as a good meal.
The YCSSA research, published in Evolution, suggests that nasty prey may have evolved bright colours to avoid this kind of mimicry. Bright colours are harder for defenceless prey to mimic because they have a survival cost of increased detectability by predators. There are also many ways to look distinctive when brightly coloured, but limited scope for doing so when camouflaged, because camouflage needs to blend in with the background.

Finally, PhysOrg.com also has a piece on research into the heritability of vulnerability to being caught in largemouth bass:

“We kept track over four years of all of the angling that went on, and we have a total record – there were thousands of captures,” said David Philipp, ecology and conservation researcher at U of I. “Many fish were caught more than once. One fish was caught three times in the first two days, and another was caught 16 times in one year.”
After four years, the pond was drained, and more than 1,700 fish were collected. “Interestingly, about 200 of those fish had never been caught, even though they had been in the lake the entire four years,” Philipp said.
Males and females from the group that had never been caught were designated Low Vulnerability (LV) parents. To produce a line of LV offspring, these parents were allowed to spawn with each other in university research ponds. Similarly, males and females that had been caught four or more times in the study were designated High Vulnerability (HV) parents that were spawned in different ponds to produce a line of HV offspring. The two lines were then marked and raised in common ponds until they were big enough to be fished.
“Controlled fishing experiments clearly showed that the HV offspring were more vulnerable to angling than the LV offspring,” said Philipp.

The selection process was repeated multiple over the course of 20 years and results indicated that vulnerability to being caught is heritable. An open access copy of the paper can be found here.

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