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Living World

Animal Weapons | Things to Know

VIDEO: How an evolutionary “arms race” leads to flashy horns, pincers and more across the animal kingdom

Locusts and Grasshoppers | Things to Know

VIDEO: What’s the difference between these two insects? And what triggers a swarm? 

Bent into shape: The rules of tree form

How do trees find their sense of direction as they grow? Researchers are getting to the root — and the branches — of how the grandest of plants develop.

How does the embryo make all its parts at just the right moments?

FIVE BIG QUESTIONS: If events weren’t properly timed, pandemonium would ensue. Researchers are ferreting out the internal clocks that control developmental sequence and scheduling.

Will we ever fully know how a body gets built?

FIVE BIG QUESTIONS: Research has yielded a parts list of the genes and cell types involved in development. Now it’s time for the computationally intensive task of figuring out how they interact to form a living being. 

How do body parts grow to their right sizes?

FIVE BIG QUESTIONS: Some cells seem to know what to do. Others apparently take their cues from outside. But really, “We don’t get it.”

How do bodies map out left and right?

FIVE BIG QUESTIONS: Early in development, an embryo must “break symmetry” to position organs and other parts correctly.

How do bodies position arms, legs, wings and organs?

FIVE BIG QUESTIONS: Embryos use a ruler, of sorts, so they can create the right structures at the right spots from head to tail.

Regeneration: The amphibian’s opus

Certain salamanders can regrow lost body parts. How do they do it? And could people someday do the same?

Plumbing 101: Building the body’s tubes and branches

Lungs, blood vessels, kidneys and more: Our bodies are full of branching pipes. Their development follows a handful of basic principles.

Growing a body, one tiny tug at a time

For decades, genetics and biochemistry have formed the bedrock of developmental biology. But it turns out that physical forces — the way cells push, pull and squeeze each other — play a huge role, too.

Winding the body’s clock

Medicines and other small molecules may play a role in fixing rhythms gone awry

As coral die, protected areas aren’t enough

COMIC: The reef-builders face larger threats, scientists say. Chief among these is warming seas.

The human hand in fish evolution

Fishery practices that go for the big ones may be counterproductive when mostly the small survive

Why scientists need to be better at data visualization

The scientific literature is riddled with bad charts and graphs, leading to misunderstanding and worse. Avoiding design missteps can improve understanding of research.  

Getting the microbe story, straight from the mouth

A trio of researchers has mapped the living things that make the tongue, gums and palate home

Profiling the perpetrators of past plagues

The ancient pathogens in old graves are as dead as the people they once infected. Still, they tell a vivid tale.

An amphibious rescue mission

On the edge of extinction, rare frogs and toads need more than a little love to reproduce. High-tech help, from IVF to hormone therapy, may save them.