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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Why Queens Prefer Daughters
22 February 2013 3:05 pm
Queen ants, bees, and wasps are so busy giving birth that they don't have time to raise their offspring. To compensate, the queens fill their colonies with daughters who serve as caregivers, like the worker ants pictured above. These designer offspring are a consequence of a reproductive quirk known as haplodiploidy, in which unfertilized eggs develop as males and fertilized eggs become females. Now, zoologists in the United Kingdom suggest that haplodiploidy helped complex societies among insects evolve. The researchers created a mathematical model showing that if daughters are more likely than sons to help raise offspring, insect mothers will produce more daughters. As the daughters fill the colony, it becomes less important for individual females to reproduce, creating an evolutionary incentive for them to raise their siblings. Over time, the mix of rarer males, female helpers, and a queen mother leads to a hierarchical society, the researchers theorize in the current issue of The American Naturalist. The idea has yet to be tested in a lab, but its logic "is beautifully simple and transparent," says Jacobus J. Boomsma, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Copenhagen who was not involved with the study.
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