Lucy and other members of the early hominid species Australopithecus afarensis probably were similar to humans in the size difference between males and females, according to researchers from Penn State and Kent State University.
Discussing the relationship between science and faith, rather than avoiding the discussion, may better prepare future high school biology teachers for anticipating questions about evolution, according to Penn State political scientists.
Bryan Shawn Wang, lecturer in biology at Penn State Berks, will present "Combinatorial Biology: Strength in Numbers" at the next Science Colloquium at 1:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, in room 125, Luerssen Building. This presentation is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
Penn State political scientists Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer explain that, despite 40 years of court cases ruling against teaching creationism in American public schools, the majority of high school biology teachers are not strong classroom advocates of evolutionary biology.
A series of rapid environmental changes in East Africa roughly 2 million years ago may be responsible for driving human evolution, according to researchers at Penn State and Rutgers University.
"The landscape early humans were inhabiting transitioned rapidly back and forth between a closed woodland and an open grassland about five to six times during a period of 200,000 years," said Clayton Magill, graduate student in geosciences at Penn State. "These changes happened very abruptly, with each transition occurring over hundreds to just a few thousand years."
The last of the true wild horses—a stocky, short-maned species known as Przewalski's horse—is much more distantly related to the domestic horse than researchers have previously thought, according to a new study led by Kateryna Makova, associate professor of biology at Penn State.
Using a new technique in which models of primitive cells are constructed from the bottom up, Penn State scientists have demonstrated that the structure of a cell's membrane and cytoplasm may be as important to cell division as the specialized machinery -- such as enzymes, DNA or RNA -- that are found within living cells. The study, which will be published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, may provide important clues to how life originated from nonlife and how modern cells came to exhibit complex behaviors.
Chimpanzees and humans are minimally different genetically, but the small differences are what make us human, according to a team of researchers who identified segments of non-coding DNA missing in humans that exist in chimpanzees and other animals. "The technology now lets us look at the genomes of humans and other mammals and find sites where humans are unique," said Philip Reno, assistant professor of anthropology, Penn State. "We can now correlate that information with specific human physical characteristics."
Clifford Tabin, a professor in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and also the chairman of the department, will present the Russell Marker Lectures in Evolutionary Biology on March 14 and 15 on Penn State's University Park campus. The free public lectures are sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science. The series includes a lecture intended for a general audience titled "Revisiting Evolutionary Examples Used by Darwin: New Insights in the Varied Beaks of Darwin's Finches and Regressive Evolution in Cave Fish" at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 14. Tabin also will give a more specialized lecture titled "Evolution and Development of Gut and Limb Pattern" at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15. Both lectures will take place in the Berg Auditorium, 100 Life Sciences Building.
The majority of public high school biology teachers are not strong classroom advocates of evolutionary biology, despite 40 years of court cases that have ruled teaching creationism or intelligent design violates the Constitution, according to Penn State political scientists. A mandatory undergraduate course in evolutionary biology for prospective teachers, and frequent refresher courses for current teachers, may be part of the solution, they say.
Beth Shapiro, the Shaffer Career Development Assistant Professor of Biology at Penn State University, has won a David and Lucile Packard Foundation fellowship to explore the origins and evolution of viruses.