6. Hybrid creatures
The starfish Luidia sarsi lives an odd life. First it’s a larva with a tiny starfish inside. Then the starfish grows, and leaves the larva: one life has become two. The sea squirt genome shows it is the result of a fusion of two completely different creatures, defying all the usual tenets of biology. It seems that evolution has been trying out a few things. Underwater, eggs and sperm often get squirted out and carried away from where they are supposed to be, leaving them free to try conception with the “wrong” partner. It’s not just in the ocean, either: at least ten per cent of plant species came from similar processes. Biologists now have a whole new mess to clear up.
7. Dark flow
There’s something huge out there in space, and it is taking our stars away. Clusters of galaxies are moving at 1000 km/h towards a patch of sky between the Centaurus and Vela constellations. The best explanation for this “dark flow” is the gravitational attraction of a massive structure beyond the edge of the visible universe. This is another blow to our view of things – everything is meant to be roughly the same everywhere, so why haven’t we got something this big in our patch?