Sex is a costly molecular kind of wizardry – why evolve it? // Aeon

At its heart, sex is a process of genetic mixing: it creates unique sets of genes and trait combinations different from either of the two parents. A remarkable act of molecular wizardry, perfected over billions years of evolutionary tinkering. Why evolve it?

The inescapable social media crisis is about expectations, not addiction // Undark, Quartz & Fast Company

What many commentators describe as an addiction is actually a powerful social norm at work. The distinction matters.

We’ve been wrong about the origins of life for 90 years // Sydney Morning Herald, Quartz

For nearly nine decades, science’s favorite explanation for the origin of life has been the “primordial soup”. But recent research adds weight to an alternative idea, that life arose deep in the ocean within warm, rocky structures called hydrothermal vents.

Empathy is the secret ingredient that makes cooperation – and civilization – possible // The Conversation

Human societies are so prosperous mostly because of how altruistic we are. Unlike other animals, people cooperate even with complete strangers. We share knowledge on Wikipedia, we show up to vote, and we work together to responsibly manage natural resources. Morality and reputations play critical roles in maintaining our cooperative behavior, but only if we are also empathetic...

It’s mostly mothers who pass on mitochondria // Scientific American

Evolutionary interests of males and females do not always coincide. New research shows that sexual conflicts over mitochondrial transmission shaped the evolution of the sexes themselves.

Shared Truth Is Key to Human Cooperation // Psychology Today

Humans are unique among animals in our unparalleled capacity to cooperate. While other social animals direct their help towards their kin – bees work together to ensure the success of the hive, and meerkats stand guard to protect their pups – humans extend their generosity to complete strangers, transcending the boundaries of genetic relatedness. A new study based on game theory now suggests that reciprocity, and our willingness to accept shared facts, are key to human cooperation.

Mitochondria mutation mystery solved // The Conversation

You probably know about the 23 pairs of chromosomes safely stowed in your cells’ nuclei. That’s where the vast majority of your genes can be found. But there are 37 special genes — a very tiny fraction of the human genome — located in mitochondria, the structures inside your cells that breathe and produce energy. Repeated copying of mitochondrial DNA introduces errors. How do organisms maintain their mitochondrial quality?

Original Research and Reviews

How social norms can drive collective action // SocArXiv // Research

Human societies have repeatedly resolved collective action dilemmas through social norms and institutions. Which social norms are the most effective in promoting collective action?

Beyond the selfish mitochondrion theories of uniparental inheritance // PhilPapers

What do we miss when we focus on "selfish gene" theories in mitochondrial evolution?

Sexual conflict explains extraordinary diversity of mechanisms regulating mitochondrial inheritance // BMC Biology

Sexual conflict is an inevitable outcome when there is competition between maternal and paternal control of mitochondrial inheritance. Our analysis suggests that the widespread occurrence of paternal leakage and prevalence of heteroplasmy are natural outcomes of this sexual conflict...

Evolution of individuality revisited // Biological Reviews

Evolutionary theory is formulated in terms of individuals that carry heritable information and are subject to selective pressures. However, individuality itself is a trait that had to evolve – an individual is not an indivisible entity, but a result of evolutionary processes that necessarily begin at the lower level of hierarchical organization. In this article, I revisit the concept of individuality by exploring the role that various grains of description play in evolutionary theory.