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Living World

Genetics extends the long arm of the law

In an evolving branch of forensic science, genealogists help solve crimes, sometimes identifying suspects with the DNA of distant relatives they’ve never met. As cold cases yield, concerns about privacy issues persist.

Sounding out the brain

Ultrasound isn’t just for images. Sonogenetics and other promising technologies let researchers use focused sound waves to control genes and entire cells deep in the tissues of living animals, without surgery.

Why forgetting may make your mind more efficient

Evidence builds for ways that the brain actively erases memories

At San Diego’s Frozen Zoo, a chance for animal immortality

The cryobank is a rich source of genetic knowledge of hundreds of creatures. It may one day be used to bring endangered species back from the brink and deepen the gene pool of wild populations.

In praise of parasites

They worm into snails and infect the brains of fish. They’ve also found their way into Kevin Lafferty’s heart. He sees them as beautiful examples of sophisticated evolution, and as keys to ecosystem balance.

When the brain’s waste disposal system fails

Marco Sardiello explains how problems with the cell’s lysosomes lead to disease

Awesome ears: The weird world of insect hearing

Evolution made insect ears many times over, resulting in a dazzling variety of forms found in spots all over the body. Biologists are digging deep into some of those ears to figure out how and why they came to be.

If mammoth tusks could talk

Five new things we’re learning about the extinct animals and their ancient kin

A salamander’s dangerous liaisons

The giant genomes of these struggling amphibians tell a story of outsider invasions, assault by disease and cross-species sex. A geneticist explains.

Sticky science: Evolution of spiderwebs

The eight-legged weavers have been hunting insects for almost 400 million years, flaunting their long history in a rich array of architectures. Scientists are still figuring out the taxonomy of them all.

Betting on bats for genetic treasures

Bat genomes are full of clever tricks that are treats for biology and medical science — it’s why scientists want to sequence them all

Break on through: How some viruses infect the placenta

A few rare viruses can reach the fetus when pregnant women are infected, with tragic result. As explored in this Q&A, researchers are figuring out how the placenta acts as protector and how some pathogens slip through.

A long-overlooked brain region may be key to complex thought

The thalamus has traditionally been viewed just as the brain’s sensory relay station. But it may also play an important role in higher-level cognition, MIT’s Michael Halassa explains in a Q&A.

As the Arctic warms, it’s losing more than just ice

SLIDESHOW: Also at risk are the many hidden habitats built into the sea’s frozen wilds.

Resistance threatens recent success seen in battle against malaria

The disease-causing parasite is once again starting to evade front-line strategies, but scientists are preparing their next volleys

Humanizing immunology

The field has long been more mice than men. New technologies and systems-based approaches with human cells may soon fill gaps in our understanding of autoimmune disease and health, Mark Davis says in a Q&A.

The mind of an anthill

Can we use the tools of psychology to understand how colonies of social insects make decisions?

Searching for chocolate’s roots, and enemies, in Colombia’s wilderness

A newfound peace has spurred the hunt for disease-resistant wild cacao within the nation’s borders. What scientists find could help the country expand its role in the global trade.