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A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 4/23/2014 1:00 PM EDT

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New Method Confirms Humans and Neandertals Interbred

Technical objections to the idea that Neandertals interbred with the ancestors of Eurasians have been overcome, thanks to a genome analysis method described in the April 2014 issue of the journal GENETICS (http://www.genetics.org). The technique can more confidently detect the genetic signatures of interbreeding than previous approaches and will be useful for evolutionary studies of other ancient or rare DNA samples.

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Seeing Double: New Study Explains Evolution of Duplicate Genes

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From time to time, living cells will accidentally make an extra copy of a gene during the normal replication process. Throughout the history of life, evolution has molded some of these seemingly superfluous genes into a source of genetic novelty, adaptation and diversity. A new study shows one way that some duplicate genes could have long-ago escaped elimination from the genome, leading to the genetic innovation seen in modern life.

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A Tale of Two Species

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A pair of new studies from the Wildlife Conservation Society, Idaho State University, and the University of Nevada Reno look at the surprising variety of factors that prevent two closely related species of woodrats from becoming a single hybrid species despite the existence of hybrid individuals where the two species come into contact.

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Bamboo-Loving Giant Pandas Also Have a Sweet Tooth

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Despite the popular conception of giant pandas as continually chomping on bamboo, new research from the Monell Center reveals that this highly endangered species also has a sweet tooth. Behavioral and molecular genetic studies demonstrate that the panda possesses functional sweet taste receptors and shows a strong preference for natural sweeteners.

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Dr. Seuss Meets Darwin in Grad Student’s New Children’s Book

BINGHAMTON, NY – The Jungle Book. Aesop’s Fables. Charlotte’s Web. Fantastical tales of anthropomorphized animals have delighted children for generations. That’s all well and good, said Robert Kadar, but kids need to learn the story behind the real animals − the ones that don’t sing or dance − and how they evolved.

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Shifting Evolution Into Reverse Promises Cheaper, Greener Way to Make New Drugs

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By shifting evolution into reverse, it may be possible to use “green chemistry” to make a number of costly synthetic drugs as easily and cheaply as brewing beer.

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Eyes Are Windows to the Soul – and Evolution

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Why do we become saucer-eyed from fear and squint from disgust? These near-opposite facial expressions are rooted in emotional responses that exploit how our eyes gather and focus light to detect an unknown threat, according to a study by a Cornell University neuroscientist.

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New Work Shines Light on Hox Genes Responsible for Firefly Lantern Development

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New work from a former Indiana University Bloomington graduate student and his IU Ph.D. advisor offers for the first time a characterization of the developmental genetic basis of this spectacular morphological novelty -- the firefly’s photic organ -- and the means by which this beetle successfully uses ancient and highly conserved regulatory genes to form its lantern.

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Nature Publishes Geisler's Study on Origin of Toothed Whale Echolocation

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A new fossil species, Cotylocara macei, shows evidence of echolocation and the complex anatomy underlying this unique behavior that has evolved in toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

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