The article gives some background on Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer and her discovery of an extant coelacanth. The year was 1938, and the place was a fish market in East London, South Africa. It just goes to show that one needs to keep one’s eyes open.
Laura K. Reed and her advisor, Regents’ Professor Therese Markow, made the discovery by observing breeding patterns of fruitflies that live among rotting cacti in western deserts. Whether the two closely related fruitfly populations, designated Drosophila mojavensis and Drosophila arizonae, represent one species or two is still debatable among biologists, testament to the Arizona researchers’ assertion that they are in the early stages of diverging into separate species.
The seeds of speciation are sown when distinct factions of a species cease reproducing with one another. When the two groups can no longer interbreed, or prefer not to, they stop exchanging genes and eventually go their own evolutionary ways, forming separate species.
From the article, it sounds like they are planning to locate the genes responsible for the partial reproductive isolation between these populations via genome sequencing and comparison. This research will be something to watch for…
This short article describes, in a rough translation, the discovery by Chen Junyuan and colleagues of an apparent bilaterally symmetric organism from 580MYA. There are some more details in a longer article from Astrobiology Magazine.