Life Sciences

What is this thing called life? Biologists are life's detectives, discovering how life works and what makes animals, plants and microbes "alive." Organisms don't remain the same forever. Without change, life on Earth would stagnate. Species are in a constant dance with their environment. When an environment changes, the species that live within must change too, evolving to better adapt in order to survive. The end result is the diversity of life we see around us.

Hunting for hidden ice

The search for ancient ice starts back on campus, in Boston University's Digital Image Analysis Lab, where BU geologist David Marchant and his team pour over thousands of high resolution satellite images of Antarctica. They are looking for polygons; shapes in the rock that indicate buried ice below.

DNA Scientist is honored by President for mentoring science students

DNA scientist Bruce Jackson Bruce Jackson heads the Biotechnology Programs at Massachusetts Bay Community College. His work focuses on how DNA - in conjunction with other tools - can help solve mysteries of ancestry, forensics and evolution. Through his African-American Roots Project, he helps reunite African-Americans with their ancestral roots in Africa.

Slick and slender snake beats short and stubby lizard in sand swimming

Using X-ray equipment that allowed them to watch the animals move through a bed of dry sand, Georgia Tech researchers have studied how the shovel-nosed snake and sandfish lizard use their unique body plans to swim through sand. Information provided by the research could help explain how evolutionary pressures have affected body shape in sand-dwelling animals.

New technology makes tissues, someday organs

A new device for assembling large tissues from living components could someday be used to build replacement human organs the way electronics are assembled today: with precise picking and placing of parts.

Enormous underwater fossil graveyard found

Anthropologists and paleontologists uncovered what could be the largest single collection of lemur remains ever found. The remains were hidden in a series of underwater caves in a remote desert region of Madagascar. Described as a "lemur graveyard," the discovery of hundreds of potentially 1,000-year-old skeletons make it one of the most unique animal gravesites in the world. This discovery could be important for understanding animal and human ancestry, and result in a new era for underwater paleontology.

Antarctic seals may use the Earth's magnetic field to survive while hunting

Antarctica's Weddell seals have biological adaptations that allow them to dive deep--as much as hundreds of meters--while hunting, but also an uncanny ability to find the breathing holes they need in the surface of the ice that covers the sea. Now, a team of researchers supported by the U.S. Antarctic Program, which is managed by the National Science Foundation, believe they have figured out that the seals navigate so well by sensing the Earth's magnetic fields.

Origins of bird species

In a landmark study that researched the origins of bird species, evolutionary biologists have made discoveries about the age of birds, and the genomic relationships among modern birds.

Conserving biodiversity

Funded in part by the National Science Foundation, the Central African Biodiversity Alliance is an international partnership of scientists, students and policy makers working to build a framework to conserve biodiversity in Central Africa. The partnership spans three continents, and includes researchers from the U.S., Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Otolith signals

About the size of a diamond and comes from the inner ear of a fish, this tiny construction holds a treasure trove of information--a calcium carbonate microchip made of bone and accessed by a laser. Let's take a look at the science of otoliths.

The anglerfish: The original approach to deep-sea fishing

On November 17, 2014, researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute used a used a remotely operated vehicle, a kind of undersea robot, to videotape this rare deep-sea anglerfish in Monterey Canyon, about 580 meters (1,900 feet) below the ocean surface.