Viruses Evolve in Real Time
Charles Darwin recognized that natural selection can make eyes sharper, muscles stronger, and fur thicker. But evolution does more than just improve whatâ€™s already there. It also gives rise to entirely new thingsâ€”like eyes and muscles and fur. To study how new things evolve, biologists usually have to rely on ancient clues left behind for hundreds of millions of years. But in a new study, scientists at Michigan State University show that itâ€™s possible to watch something new evolve in front of their eyes, in just a couple weeks. The scientists were studying a virus, which evolved a new way of invading cells. As a result, their research not only sheds light on a fundamental question about evolution. It also suggests that it may worryingly easy for viruses such as influenza to turn into new epidemics.