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Writer Fuel: Is This the Ancestor of Us All?

Asgard archaeon - Image credit: © Thiago Rodrigues-Oliveira, Univ. Wien

Ancient microbes whose existence predates the rise of nucleus-carrying cells on Earth may hold the secrets to how such complex cells first came to be. Now, for the first time, scientists have grown a large enough quantity of these microbes in the lab to study their internal structure in detail, Science reported (opens in new … Read more

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Writer Fuel: How Long Does Evolution Take?

human evolution - pixabay

Charles Darwin famously marveled at the “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful” produced by evolution, and indeed, Earth today teems with an estimated 1 trillion species. But how long did it take those species to evolve? The answer varies widely across lifeforms, “depending on taxa [type of creature] and environmental conditions,” Thomas Smith, a … Read more

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Writer Fuel: Who Were the Denosovans?

Caveman - Deposit Photos

The Denisovans, together with the Neanderthals, are the closest extinct relatives of modern humans. It wasn’t until 2010 that scientists announced that the they existed, so much about them remains unknown. However, fossil and genetic evidence suggests the Denisovans lived across a wide range of areas and conditions, from the cold mountains of Siberia and … Read more

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Writer Fuel: Where Are All the Giant Animals?

dinosaur - deposit photos

Prehistoric giants used to populate the Earth. These behemoths included mighty dinosaurs, airplane-size pterosaurs, massive crocodiles and snakes, and even armadillos the size of cars. But today, there are just a few big animals on our planet. What happened? Why aren’t there many giants left anymore? First of all, there’s plenty of fossil evidence that … Read more

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WRITER FUEL: Researchers Build Giant Human Family Tree

human family tree

A new, enormous family tree for all of humanity attempts to summarize how all humans alive today relate both to one another and to our ancient ancestors.   To build this family tree, or genealogy, researchers sifted through thousands of genome sequences collected from both modern and ancient humans, as well as ancient human relatives, according to … Read more

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WRITER FUEL: Scientists Find Evidence of Non-Random Mutations

DNA - Deposit Photos

Genetic changes that crop up in an organism’s DNA may not be completely random, new research suggests. That would upend one of the key assumptions of the theory of evolution. Researchers studying the genetic mutations in a common roadside weed, thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), have discovered that the plant can shield the most “essential” genes … Read more

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WRITER FUEL: How Close Are We to Unlocking Immortality?

immortality - deposit photos

If you are human, you are going to die. This isn’t the most comforting thought, but death is the inevitable price we must pay for being alive. Humans are, however, getting better at pushing back our expiration date, as our medicines and technologies advance. If the human life span continues to stretch, could we one … Read more

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WRITER FUEL: What’s Hiding In Our Genetic “Dark DNA”?

DNA - Deposit Photos

We’re launching a brand new feature on Liminal Fiction – “Writer Fuel – cool real-world stories that might inspire your little writer heart. Today:  Genetic “dark matter” may drive the emergence of new species, new research finds. These long, repeating stretches of the genome, called satellite DNA, may ultimately prevent incompatible animals from mating by … Read more