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DURHAM, N.C. – Cooperation and aggression. Meerkats are showing us that one may not be possible without the other. In a study appearing this week in the journal Nature Communications, a team of researchers led by Christine Drea, professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University, shows that testosterone-fueled aggression may be a crucial part in the evolution of cooperation in meerkat societies. Meerkat societies have a clear boss: the matriarch. Along with her lucky mate, she rules over a group of subordinate… read more about Cooperation Has a Dark Side, and Meerkats Are Helping Us See It »

Duke University had a very exciting year in science in 2021. Here is a roundup of some of the science stories covered this year. Robo Dragonfly: DraBot uses air pressure, microarchitectures and self-healing hydrogels to watch for changes in pH, temperature and oil Identifying New Drug Targets for COVID-19: The coronavirus’s tangled strands of RNA could offer new ways to treat people who get infected Ghost Forests: Rising seas and inland-surging seawater are leaving behind the debris… read more about The Year in Science at Duke »

DURHAM, N.C. – Sixty-three percent. That’s the proportion of mammal species that vanished from Africa and the Arabian Peninsula around 30 million years ago, after Earth’s climate shifted from swampy to icy. But we are only finding out about it now. Compiling decades of work, a new study published this week in the journal Communications Biology reports on a previously undocumented extinction event that followed the transition between the geological periods called the Eocene and Oligocene. That time period was marked by… read more about The Climate-Driven Mass Extinction No One Had Seen »

DURHAM, N.C. -- We put “save the chimps” on t-shirts and posters. But you’ll never see anyone walking around in a shirt that says “save the chimpanzee lice.” People seem to be more aware of the plight of endangered gorillas than of the gorillas’ gut worms, or are understandably more enamored with mouse lemurs than their mites. Our closest animal relatives face a precarious future: Half of the world’s roughly 500 primate species are at risk of extinction due to human activities such as hunting, trapping and deforestation.… read more about If Endangered Primates Disappear, So Will Their Parasites. That’s Actually a Problem »

The fall 2021 cohort at the Duke Canine Cognition Center’s Puppy Kindergarten sat -- and stood, and laid down -- for their class portrait Wednesday. Fearless, Dunn, Ethel, Gilda and Gloria are part of a long-term study at the Duke Canine Cognition Center funded by the National Institutes of Health on the cognitive development of potential service dogs.  The puppies come from Canine Companions in California, which raises puppies to be trained as service dogs for people who need help with mobility, hearing and other… read more about They're Puppies Now, But They're the Service Dogs of the Future »

DURHAM, N.C. -- If you’ve ever suffered from a sore jaw that popped or clicked when you chewed gum or crunched hard foods, you may be able to blame it on your extinct ancestors. That’s according to a Duke University-led study of the chewing mechanics of an ancient human relative called Homo floresiensis, which inhabited the Indonesian island of Flores before our species arrived there some 50,000 years ago. Not much more than three feet tall, the hominin’s diminutive size earned it the nickname “the Hobbit,” after… read more about The Hobbit’s Bite Gets a Stress Test »

DURHAM, N.C. -- Most of us remember a time when we could eat anything we wanted and not gain weight. But a new study suggests your metabolism -- the rate at which you burn calories -- actually peaks much earlier in life, and starts its inevitable decline later than you might guess. The findings were published Aug. 12 in the journal Science. “There are lots of physiological changes that come with growing up and getting older,” said study co-author Herman Pontzer, associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke… read more about Metabolism Changes With Age, Just Not When You Might Think »