Brawn Before Brains in Early Mammalian Development

Zhifei Zeng ’23 Of all vertebrates, mammals have the largest brains in terms of absolute size and relative to body size. Significant encephalization (an increase in brain size relative to body size) has been observed in the placenta of extant mammals. However, until recently it has not yet been determined when mammalian brains began to increase in size and how they evolved to their current … Continue reading Brawn Before Brains in Early Mammalian Development

Fish Out of Water: Uncovering the Mechanisms for Survival in Extreme Environments

Peter Gillespie ’25 Most fish, when left without water, will simply not survive. However, research from Dr. Chi-Kuo Hu from Stony Brook University reveals how the embryos of the African turquoise killifish can survive eight-month long droughts in a dormant state known as diapause. Diapause is a state of suspended animation during which a fully developed killifish may temporarily halt its development. Dr. Hu and … Continue reading Fish Out of Water: Uncovering the Mechanisms for Survival in Extreme Environments

Freshwater Pond on Southampton Island Contains Traces of the Extinct Sadlermiut People

Joyce Chen ’23 The Sadlermiut were a past civilization that lived on Southampton Island in Nunavut, Canada. Accustomed to the harsh weather of Arctic Canada, the Sadlermiut were natural hunter-gatherers and fishermen. Recovery of past artifacts and skeletal remains suggested that the civilization occupied regions of Southampton Island ranging back to 1250 CE up until 1903, when they were wiped out by a pandemic introduced … Continue reading Freshwater Pond on Southampton Island Contains Traces of the Extinct Sadlermiut People

Evolution of avian brain sizes: The uncovered connection with body size

Sooraj Shah ’24 It is a common belief that the cumulative size of an individual’s fists taken together results in an approximate size of that individual’s brain. By this interpretation, individuals with larger hand sizes should thus have bigger brains. On the contrary, towards the end of the Cretaceous era, the relative brain size of both small avians (birds) and massive non-avians (dinosaurs) were the … Continue reading Evolution of avian brain sizes: The uncovered connection with body size

The Origins of Ancient Pterosaurs

Sabah Bari ’24 Pterosaurs were the first flying reptiles with over 150 million years of evolution. The specific anatomy of pterosaurs is what distinguishes them from other Mesozoic reptiles. They are known as Pan Aves, which means dinosaurs. With new fossil discoveries, researchers are now having a better understanding of a dinosaur’s body structure. The origin of pterosaurs is unknown. However, the structure allows archaeologists … Continue reading The Origins of Ancient Pterosaurs

The preservation of proteins and lipids in mammoth rib bones

Joyce Chen ’23 Despite significant technological advances in the past decade, a great deal of mystery still surrounds the ancient animals that once roamed the earth. In order to learn about these organisms, biologists study the biomolecules that are found within fossils. Biomolecules include proteins and lipids, and their preservation allows scientists to understand and trace evolution. Due to a lack of research on the … Continue reading The preservation of proteins and lipids in mammoth rib bones

Neuroanatomical Variation in Dogs

Panayiota Siskos ’23 The selective breeding of dogs by humans has led to variation in the brain across different breeds. Selectively breeding dogs for traits and abilities has been a recent occurrence  in evolution, and genetic research shows behavioral variation is heritable. Behavioral specializations depend on neural specializations, and strong selection pressure exhibits that brain differences between dog breeds correlate with differences in behavior. Selection … Continue reading Neuroanatomical Variation in Dogs

The Disappearance of the Y Chromosome (And Other Chromosomes)

Wendy Wu ’22 The Y-chromosome is quite unlike its homologue, the X-chromosome. With a relatively lacking number of genes, the Y-chromosome is the only chromosome inessential for life; its major function is to determine the sex of offspring. How did this come to be the case? A part of the reason is that the Y-chromosome does not occur as a pair; it does not have … Continue reading The Disappearance of the Y Chromosome (And Other Chromosomes)

Glutamate Receptor GLR-3 Encodes for Evolutionary Cold-Sensing Receptor

Simran Kaur ’20 The capacity to detect cold temperatures is essential for many living organisms because cold temperatures can cause detrimental effects like severe soft-tissue damage and hypothermia. Some organisms have evolved the presence of thermoreceptors, which are specific nerve endings that are sensitive to changes in temperature and exist in the skin, skeletal muscle, and the hypothalamus. Thermoreceptors relay electrical signals to the central … Continue reading Glutamate Receptor GLR-3 Encodes for Evolutionary Cold-Sensing Receptor

Mudrocks and Plants: A Shared History

Gene Yang ‘19 Billions of years ago, during the Precambrian, mudrocks were considered a rare sedimentary deposit in rivers. Then, the colonization of land by plants coincided with an increase in mudrocks, resulting in a significant change in the composition of river sedimentary deposits. While this relationship between mudrocks and plants has been well-established, less is known quantitatively, and even less about why these two … Continue reading Mudrocks and Plants: A Shared History

Searching for New Anti-Malaria Drugs

By Gene Yang ’19 Over 216 million cases of malaria, a disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite and transmitted by mosquitos, were recorded in 2016. While this disease still results in an estimated half a million deaths per year, the majority of which occurs in Sub-Saharan Africa, mortality rates are on the decline thanks to increased prevention and control. However, if malaria eradication is to … Continue reading Searching for New Anti-Malaria Drugs

Evolution of the Nervous System: Independent or Conserved?

By: Gene Yang ‘19 The question of whether the central nervous system evolved once or multiple times is a subject of much study and debate. Humans and other animals with bilateral symmetry, all of which possess central nervous systems, are known to have descended from a common ancestor. In the past, it was believed that the central nervous system evolved just once in our bilateral … Continue reading Evolution of the Nervous System: Independent or Conserved?