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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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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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