The world’s oldest algae fossils are a billion years old, according to a new analysis by earth scientists at McGill University. Based on this finding, the researchers also estimate that the basis for photosynthesis in today’s plants was set in place 1.25 billion years ago.
Shipping and mining in the Arctic. The spread of invasive microbial pathogens around the world. Changing agricultural practices. Use of genomic-modification tools. Those are among the 14 most significant issues that could affect the science and management of invasive species over the next two decades, according to an international team of ecologists, who published their findings in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
The transition from being sea creatures to living on land, even if it happened over 300 million years ago, seems to have left its traces on the way we keep our balance today.
“It’s a discovery that is likely to be controversial,” says Kathy Cullen, the senior researcher on a paper on the subject that was published recently in Nature Communications. She has been working on this problem for over a decade with her colleague Maurice Chacron who also teaches in McGill’s Department of Physiology.
The evolution and distribution of spiny plants holds clue to spread of African savanna
By Melody Enguix
When scientists from McGill University learned that some fish were proliferating in rivers and ponds polluted by oil extraction in Southern Trinidad, it caught their attention. They thought they had found a rare example of a species able to adapt to crude oil pollution.
The distinctive “fecal prints” of microbes potentially provide a record of how Earth and life have co-evolved over the past 3.5 billion years as the planet’s temperature, oxygen levels, and greenhouse gases have changed. But, despite more than 60 years of study, it has proved difficult, until now, to “read” much of the information contained in this record. Research from McGill University and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), sheds light on the mysterious digestive processes of microbes, opening the way towards a better understanding of how life and the planet have changed over time.
Learning from others and innovation have undoubtedly helped advance civilization. But these behaviours can carry costs as well as benefits. And a new study by an international team of evolutionary biologists sheds light on how one particular cost – increased exposure to parasites – may affect cultural evolution in non-human primates.
Birds originated from a group of small, meat-eating theropod dinosaurs called maniraptorans sometime around 150 million years ago. Recent findings from around the world show that many maniraptorans were very bird-like, with feathers, hollow bones, small body sizes and high metabolic rates.
An analysis of sulfide ore deposits from one of the world’s richest base-metal mines confirms that oxygen levels were extremely low on Earth 2.7 billion years ago, but also shows that microbes were actively feeding on sulfate in the ocean and influencing seawater chemistry during that geological time period.