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2005

Children Learn by Monkey See, Monkey Do. Chimps Don't.
New York Times, December 13, 2005
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I drove into New Haven on a recent morning with a burning question on my mind. How did my daughter do against the chimpanzees?

The Neurobiology of the Self
Scientific American, November 2005
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The most obvious thing about yourself is your self. “You look down at your body and know it’s yours,” says Todd Heatherton, a psychologist at Dartmouth University. “You know it’s your hand you’re controlling when you reach out. When you have memories, you know that they are yours and not someone else’s. When you wake up in the morning, you don’t have to interrogate yourself for a long time about who you are.”

A Pair of Wings Took Evolving Insects on a Nonstop Flight to Domination
New York Times, November 29, 2005
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In the annals of life, insects are one of the great success stories.

In Give and Take of Evolution, a Surprising Contribution From Islands
The New York Times, November 22, 2005
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Islands hold a special place in the hearts of evolutionary biologists. When Charles Darwin visited the Galď¿½pagos Islands in 1835, he was stunned by the diversity of birds, which helped guide him to his theory of evolution by natural selection.

Clues to the Origin of Snake Venom
The New York Times, November 22, 2005
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Which came first, the snake or the venom?

Down for the Count
The New York Times, November 8, 2005
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In a laboratory at Indiana State University, a dozen green iguanas sprawl tranquilly in terrariums. They while away the hours basking under their heat lamps, and at night they close both eyes - or sometimes just one. They lead comfortable lives pretty much indistinguishable from any ordinary pet iguana, except for one notable exception: the bundles of brain-wave recording wires that trail from their heads.

Can Chimps Talk?
Forbes.com, October 24, 2005
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Humans may be the great communicators of the natural world, but we're hardly the only ones. Plenty of animals trade signals with one another--calls to love, calls to war. Flowers even woo bees with scents and colors, while bacteria can decide when enough of them have gathered in our guts to start making us sick. Looking at these simpler communication systems is offering scientists some clues to how our own gifts of language evolved. And so it should be no surprise that they've focused much of their efforts on our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees. Primatologists have spent years observing them, either in African forests or at zoos. And they've seen and heard a lot. Chimpanzees hoot, blow Bronx cheers, wave sticks, clap their hands and drum on trees. The tough part comes in figuring out what all the ruckus means.

DNA Studies Suggest Emperor Is Most Ancient of Penguins
The New York Times, October 11, 2005
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Penguins are some of the most improbable animals on the planet. They have wings and feathers but cannot fly. They are not fish, but they have been recorded as deep as 1,755 feet underwater. And the most improbable is the emperor penguin, which waddles across 70 miles of Antarctic ice to reach its breeding grounds. New research on penguin DNA suggests that the emperor also has the most ancient lineage of living penguins.

Loyalty Under a Microscope: Why Amoebae Stick Together
In Character, Fall 2005
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Can amoebae be loyal?

Manipulative Malaria Parasite Makes You More Attractive (to Mosquitoes)
The New York Times, August 9, 2005
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Malaria is a staggeringly devastating disease, striking an estimated 300 million to 500 million people a year and killing more than a million of them. Scientists have long wondered how the parasite that causes malaria - a single-cell creature, plasmodium, carried by mosquitoes - manages to be so successful.

The History of Chromosomes May Shape the Future of Diseases
The New York Times, August 30, 2005
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The common ancestor of humans and the rhesus macaque monkey lived about 25 million years ago. But despite that vast gulf of time, our chromosomes still retain plenty of evidence of our shared heritage.

Biologists Build a Virtual Microbe, Gene by Gene by Gene
The New York Times, August 16, 2005
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Michael Ellison has a dream: to reconstruct a living thing inside a computer, down to every last molecule. It is, he said, ''the ultimate goal in biology to be able to do this.''


The Riddle of the Appendix
The New York Times, August 9, 2005
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I recently spent a few days recovering from having my appendix removed. As I padded around my house in my pajamas, I pondered that dear departed bit of my gut.

A New Kind of Birdsong: Music on the Wing in the Forests of Ecuador
The New York Times, August 2, 2005
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Richard Prum, a Yale ornithologist, was hiking through an Ecuadorean forest 18 years ago when he had one of the strangest experiences an ornithologist can have. He watched a bird sing with its wings.

Neuron Network Goes Awry, and Brain Becomes an IPod
The New York Times, July 12, 2005
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Seven years ago Reginald King was lying in a hospital bed recovering from bypass surgery when he first heard the music.

How and Where On Earth Did Life Arise?
Science, July 1, 2005
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For the past 50 years, scientists have attacked the question of how life began in a pincer movement. Some approach it from the present, moving backward in time from life today to its simpler ancestors. Others march forward from the formation of Earth 4.55 billion years ago, exploring how lifeless chemicals might have become organized into living matter.

Plain, Simple, Primitive? Not the Jellyfish
The New York Times, June 21, 2005
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Jellyfish have traditionally been considered simple and primitive. When you gaze at one in an aquarium tank, it is not hard to see why.

Life On Mars?
Smithsonian, May 2005
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On August 7, 1996, reporters, photographers and television camera operators surged into NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. The crowd focused not on the row of seated scientists in NASA’s auditorium but on a small, clear plastic box on the table in front of them. Inside the box was a velvet pillow, and nestled on it like a crown jewel was a rock--from Mars. The scientists announced that they’d found signs of life inside the meteorite. NASA administrator Daniel Goldin gleefully said it was an “unbelievable” day. He was more accurate than he knew.


Scientists at Work: Michael Gazzaniga. A Career Career Spent Learning How the Mind Emerges From the Brain
The New York Times, May 10, 2005
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If you walk into the office of a scientist, chances are you'll see a white board hanging on the wall covered in scrawls. A molecular biologist's white board might be covered by hideous tangles of protein chains. A geophysicist might doodle India crashing into southern Asia.

Why Were Dinosaurs So Successful?
Discover, April 2005 (cover story)
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In the earliest paintings of dinosaurs, from the mid-1800s, they writhe like beached sea serpents or slouch like reptilian potbellied pigs. Now we know better. Dinosaurs stood erect and walked or ran great distances. Many were huge. One species—Argentinosaurus—reached 125 feet long. Now we know dinosaurs had complicated social lives—they raised their young, and they probably lived and hunted together in herds. We even know that the 9,000 species of birds all around us are living, feathered dinosaurs.

Shedding Light on Neurons With an Off-and-On Switch
The New York Times, April 12, 2005
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The 18th-century Italian anatomist Luigi Galvani found that a spark could make a frog's leg kick. His experiments established that electricity was the hidden force nerves used to control the body. Now researchers at Yale have done Galvani one better. They can make fruit flies walk, leap or fly by shining a laser at the insects, setting off certain neurons inside them.

Open Wide: Decoding the Secrets of Venom
The New York Times, April 5, 2005
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The inland taipan, a nine-foot-long Australian snake, is not the sort of creature most people would want to bother. Drop for drop, its venom is the deadliest in the world, 50 times as potent as cobra venom. Its fangs are so long they can poke through the snake's lower jaw. Its victims collapse in seconds and suffer a quick death.

A Darwinian Look at a Wailing Baby
The New York Times, March 8, 2005
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Parents of wailing babies, take comfort: you are not alone.

Looking for Personality in Animals, of All People
The New York Times, March 1, 2005
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A team of Dutch scientists is trying to solve the mystery of personality. Why are some individuals shy while others are bold, for example? What roles do genes and environment play in shaping personalities? And most mysterious of all, how did they evolve?

Underground Gourmet: Mole Sets a Speed Record
The New York Times, February 8, 2005
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In the world of competitive eating, it's time to crown a new champion.

Even the fastest human eaters need a few seconds to consume a piece of food. The current record for devouring hard-boiled eggs, for example, is 65 eggs in 6 minutes 40 seconds, by Sonya Thomas of Alexandria, Va. That works out to about six seconds an egg.


Testing Darwin
Discover, February 2005 (cover story)
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If you want to find alien life-forms, hold off on booking that trip to the moons of Saturn. You may only need to catch a plane to East Lansing, Michigan.

Plague Ants, Plantains And Scorched Plantations
The New York Times, January 11, 2005
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The Harvard entomologist Edward O. Wilson believes that he has solved a 487-year-old ecological mystery.

In the Search for Life on Titan, the Challenge Will Be Recognizing It
The New York Times, January 11, 2005
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Dr. Steven A. Benner is bracing for what could be a spectacular year. When the Huygens mission parachutes into the hazy skies of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, he will be among the researchers anxiously awaiting a report.

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