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Evo in the news

Evolution accounts for taste - September, 2014
Most of us get in line at the ice cream shop or tear into a piece of chocolate cake without giving much thought to why we like what we do. Humans appreciate a wide variety of tastes because of our omnivorous evolutionary history and the genes we carry that allow us to sense sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami (i.e., savory) flavors. But the same isn't true of all animals. Most cats, for example, dubiously sniff at sweets. This is because, over the course of its evolutionary history, the feline lineage lost a functional gene to detect sweet flavors. Birds also lack this gene and, usually, the sweet tooth that comes with it — but there are a few notable exceptions. Hummingbirds, for example, make a proverbial beeline for honey-sweet liquids. Why are hummingbirds sugar junkies, while robins stick with worms? New research reveals at a genetic level the evolutionary changes that account for such diverse tastes.

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Highlights

Kim Bostwick How boogieing birds evolved: The work of Kim Bostwick
When ornithologist Kim Bostwick goes hunting with her binoculars, she's not just looking for birds; she's looking for untold evolutionary stories.
Jackson Njau CSI: Olduvai Gorge. The work of Jackson Njau
Follow paleoanthropologist Jackson Njau as he examines fossil evidence for clues of crocodile predation on early hominids.
Evo Connection Evo Connection slide sets
This series of short slide sets explain several basic biology topics in evolutionary terms. Each set includes notes to help you present every slide.
A fisheye view of the tree of life A fisheye view of the tree of life
Explore our interactive fish evolutionary tree to learn about amazing innovations that have evolved in the different lineages.

 

This site was created by the University of California Museum of Paleontology with support provided by the National Science Foundation (grant no. 0096613) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (grant no. 51003439).