Have you ever wondered if insects have brains? Can creatures so tiny as mosquitoes or even bees have brains inside their skulls? The short answer is yes, insects do have brains, and surprisingly, quite sophisticated ones. Just like our own, insect brains are complex structures divided into specific regions, each designated to handle certain types of information. … [Read more...] about Do insects have brains
Have you ever wondered why we have fingerprints? Surely, they're a fundamental tool in forensics, but that can't possibly be the reason why evolution endowed us with this trait, right? Forensics started using fingerprints in person identification a mere 100 and some more years ago. Even if we consider Babylonians using fingerprints to sign clay tablets, it is still quite … [Read more...] about Holding on with your fingertips: evolutionary function of fingerprints
Have you heard that humans evolved from monkeys or that evolution cannot explain the evolution of complex organs, such as an eye? Unfortunately, these are misconceptions, and the theory of evolution is among the most misunderstood sciences. Even more so, I think there is also a stubborn urge to interpret and comment on it without understanding. Unfortunately, it also … [Read more...] about Seven misconceptions about evolution
When we think about evolution, we often view it as fierce competition, survival of the fittest, and selfishness in a struggle for resources. It's every individual for themselves, right? However, paradoxically, we often see selfless and altruistic behavior of animals in the natural world. they help each other, sometimes at their own expense—so how can this be? In this … [Read more...] about Why animals help each other: kin selection and inclusive fitness
Kissing supposedly shows the highest form of affection, so it may seem blasphemy trying to explain it by chemistry, natural selection, or even mathematics. But let's give it a try and answer a few intriguing questions: Are humans the only animals that kiss? How did kissing evolve, and what function does touching of lips serve? Do animals kiss? Oh yes, they do! Kissing … [Read more...] about Evolution of passion: Why humans and other animals kiss
What is this "fitness" the evolutionary biologists often talk about? When something good occurs to a living being, it gains fitness -- like if it works out at the gym. Indeed, the meaning isn't far from that, because going to the gym undoubtedly can improve fitness. Or lose it if you don't know what you're doing and you injure yourself. But what is it? Loosely defined, … [Read more...] about What is fitness in evolutionary biology
Evolution has an odd way of appearing to be a perfect process, and with good reason. Many things in the natural world fit like a glove on a hand. Terms like ”natural selection” and “survival of the fittest” imply evolution is a goal-oriented process, with the goal being a perfect adaptation to the environment. But is it? Dinosaurs didn't evolve to be even bigger. Instead, … [Read more...] about Why evolution isn’t perfect and giraffes don’t evolve even longer necks
Natural selection is one of the main driving forces of biological evolution. In the first article of my evolution series, you learned that biological evolution occurs mainly due to random mutations when organisms copy DNA. While random mutations should result in random changes, most evolutionary changes are not even close to random due to natural selection. But what is … [Read more...] about What is natural selection and how does it work?
If you’ve ever wondered how can scientists determine the relatedness of different species and how much time has passed since they diverged, a molecular clock could have come on your radar. What is a molecular clock and how is it used? Let's find out. The molecular clock is a method that can tell how long ago two or more species diverged depending on the degree of … [Read more...] about What is a molecular clock and how does it tell evolutionary time?
Do you think you know what a species is? If you see two different animals, they belong to two different species. Or do they? Is this an “ugly” duckling in the picture, or is it just a different kind of bird? When I talk about species or speciation, I often pause thinking about how deep I should explain it. On the surface, term species appears to be precisely defined. I … [Read more...] about What is a species?