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Evolution

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Forbes

Forbes contributor David Bressan writes that a new study by MIT researchers proposes that oxygen began accumulating in early Earth’s atmosphere due to interactions between marine microbes and minerals in ocean sediments. The researchers hypothesize that “these interactions helped prevent oxygen from being consumed, setting off a self-amplifying process where more and more oxygen was made available to accumulate in the atmosphere,” writes Bressan.

HuffPost

HuffPost reporter Mary Papenfuss writes that a team of archeologists and scientists, including Research Scientist Jahandar Ramezani, have uncovered evidence of social behaviors in dinosaurs. “The bones were segregated by age, with eggs in a common nesting ground,” writes Papenfuss. “Juveniles likely were left in ‘schools’ while adults foraged.”

Scientific American

Research scientist Jahandar Ramezani speaks with Scientific American reporter Christopher Intagliata about his new study that provides evidence early dinosaurs exhibited herding behavior. “This is a critical time in the evolution of dinosaurs. This is pretty early on,” says Ramezani. “So the idea is: this type of behavior, this social behavior, may have actually contributed to the evolutionary success of dinosaurs.”

Popular Science

Researchers from MIT and other institutions have uncovered evidence that early dinosaurs may have lived in social herds, reports Kate Baggaley for Popular Science. “People have known for a long time that the more advanced dinosaurs, the ones that lived in the late Jurassic and Cretaceous, especially the large sauropods…moved and lived in herds,” explains research scientist Jahandar Ramezani. “But the question has always been, when did this behavior start?”

WBUR

A new study by MIT researchers finds that there are differences in how genes are used in men and women, reports Angus Chen for WBUR. “I think we are at present missing a lot because we operate with what is essentially a unisex model in biomedical research,” explains Prof. David Page.

Boston Globe

A new study by MIT researchers provides evidence that life on Earth may have begun in shallow bodies of water, reports Martin Finucane for The Boston Globe. The researchers found that ponds “could have held high concentrations of a key ingredient, nitrogen, while that would have been less likely in the ocean,” Finucane explains.

Xinhuanet

A new study by MIT researchers provides evidence that the first life on Earth likely came from shallow ponds, not oceans, reports the Xinhua news agency. The researchers found that primitive ponds that were about “10 centimeters deep had higher concentrations of nitrogen, a key ingredient for life on Earth.”

The Boston Globe

Postdoc Gabriel Leventhal has created a project to track how the microbes in a sourdough starter change as it gets shared around the world, writes Alex Kingsbury of The Boston Globe. To track the starter, “Herman,” each descendant is given a unique name and number before the samples are returned to the lab to track how the microbes evolve, Kingsbury explains.

Gizmodo

New research from members of the Broad Institute finds that ancient and present elephant species are the product of interbreeding. The team will now “explore how (and if) the intermingling of genetic traits may have been advantageous for elephant evolution, like an increased tolerance for new habitats and climate change,” writes George Dvorsky for Gizmodo.

Boston Globe

MIT researchers have discovered a new family of viruses in the ocean that appears to play a key role in ocean ecosystems and could help provide insights on how viruses evolve, reports Marin Finucane for The Boston Globe.  Finucane explains that the findings could also lead to, "a better understanding of human biology.”

Financial Times

In an article for the Financial Times about the best economics books of 2017, Martin Wolf highlights new works by Prof. Andrew Lo and Prof. Peter Temin. Wolf writes that in Temin’s “important and provocative book, [he] argues that the US is becoming a nation of rich and poor, with ever fewer households in the middle.”

U.S. News & World Report

In an article published by U.S. News & World Report, Robert Preidt writes that MIT researchers have identified a mechanism that helps the flu viruses evolve rapidly. “Blocking flu viruses from using the host cells' chaperones could help prevent the viruses from developing resistance to existing drugs and vaccines,” says Preidt. 

Boston Globe

MIT researchers have potentially discovered a way to prevent the flu virus from evolving to resist vaccines and treatment, reports Alyssa Meyers for The Boston Globe. The researchers are also, “testing HIV and other rapidly mutating viruses to see if inhibiting chaperones could prevent those viruses from mutating and becoming treatment-resistant.”

United Press International (UPI)

UPI reporter Brooks Hays writes that MIT researchers have developed a set of mathematical equations to help identify patterns that can lead to extreme events. “If researchers can anticipate the warning signs of extreme events, mitigation efforts could be instigated sooner, potentially preventing loss of life and property,” Hays explains. 

Stat

Susan Erdman, a principal research scientist at MIT and assistant director of MIT’s Division of Comparative Medicine, writes for STAT about her research examining whether the microbiome helped drive human evolution. “Thanks to our growing understanding of the human microbiome, it could represent a thrilling example of evolutionary symbiosis that has mutually benefitted humans and their microbial passengers.”