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Earliest Humans Had Diverse Bodies

March 27, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

One of the theories of evolution is that our genus, Homo, evolved from small-bodied early humans to become the taller, heavier and longer-legged Homo erectus that was able to migrate beyond Africa and colonize Eurasia. New research suggests our genus has come in different shapes and sizes since its origins over two million years ago, and adds weight to the idea that humans began to colonize Eurasia while still small and light.

Pre-Dino Predator Found

March 27, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Toronto | News | Comments

What do butterflies, spiders and lobsters have in common? They are all surviving relatives of a...

Research Tackles Ancestry of Mysterious Feral Chickens

March 26, 2015 3:00 pm | by Michigan State Univ. | News | Comments

How did the chicken cross the sea? No, that’s not a joke. A team has studied the mysterious...

Q&A: Diane Favro and Rebuilding Ancient Rome

March 26, 2015 7:00 am | by Lily Barback, Associate Editor | News | Comments

Laboratory Equipment’s scientist of the week is Diane Favro from UCLA. Favro and a team...

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Archeologists Uncover Aztec Empire's Complex Geopolitics

March 25, 2015 3:00 pm | by North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

New findings from an international team of archeological researchers highlight the complexity of geopolitics in Aztec era Mesoamerica and illustrate how the relationships among ancient states extended beyond warfare and diplomacy to issues concerning trade and the flow of goods.

Today in Lab History: Dame Mary Douglas

March 25, 2015 7:00 am | by Lily Barback, Associate Editor | News | Comments

Dame Mary Douglas (nee Margaret Mary Tew) was a British anthropologist born to colonial parents in Italy on March 25, 1921. Raised as a Roman Catholic, she was a supporter of structural analysis with an interest in comparative religion.

Hunters Were in North America 13,300 Years Ago

March 24, 2015 3:00 pm | by Texas A&M Univ | News | Comments

By studying the skeletal remains of seven horses and one camel found in an area called Wally’s Beach, located about 80 miles south of Calgary in Canada, researchers found that prehistoric Ice Age people hunted the animals 13,300 years ago in North America, much earlier than previously believed.

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Telescopes Explain Mysterious 17th Century Explosion

March 24, 2015 7:00 am | by ESO | News | Comments

New observations made with telescopes reveal that the star that European astronomers saw appear in the sky in 1670 was not a nova, but a much rarer, violent breed of stellar collision. It was spectacular enough to be easily seen with the naked eye during its first outburst, but the traces it left were so faint that very careful analysis using submillimeter telescopes was needed before the mystery could be explained.

Jupiter's Journey Shaped Our Strange Solar System

March 24, 2015 7:00 am | by UC Santa Cruz | News | Comments

Jupiter may have swept through the early solar system like a wrecking ball, destroying a first generation of inner planets before retreating into its current orbit, according to a new study. The find helps explain why our solar system is so different from the hundreds of other planetary systems that astronomers have discovered in recent years.  

Study Questions Cause of Global Ice Age

March 20, 2015 3:00 pm | by Dartmouth College | News | Comments

A new international study casts doubt on the leading theory of what causes ice ages around the world— changes in the way the Earth orbits the sun. The researchers found that glacier movement in the Southern Hemisphere is influenced primarily by sea surface temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide rather than changes in the Earth's orbit, which are thought to drive the advance and retreat of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere.

Human Parasites in Medieval Latrines Link Middle East, Europe

March 19, 2015 2:15 pm | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

A new analysis of a medieval cesspit in the Christian quarter of the old city of Jerusalem has revealed the presence of a number of ancient parasite eggs, providing a window into the nature and spread of infectious diseases in the Middle East during the 15th century.

Crocodile Ancestor was Top Predator Before Dinosaurs

March 19, 2015 9:24 am | by North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

A newly discovered crocodilian ancestor may have filled one of North America's top predator roles before dinosaurs arrived on the continent. Carnufex carolinensis, or the "Carolina Butcher," was a 9-foot long, land-dwelling crocodylomorph that walked on its hind legs and likely preyed upon smaller inhabitants of North Carolina ecosystems, such as armored reptiles and early mammal relatives.

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Study Sheds Light on Darwin's 'Strangest Animals'

March 19, 2015 9:15 am | by American Museum of Natural History | News | Comments

Scientists have resolved pieces of a nearly 200-year-old evolutionary puzzle surrounding the group of mammals that Charles Darwin called the “strangest animals ever discovered.” 

Beetles Beat Out Extinction

March 18, 2015 8:45 am | by National Evolutionary Synthesis Center | News | Comments

Today's rich variety of beetles may be due to an historically low extinction rate rather than a high rate of new species emerging, according to a new study. These findings were revealed by combing through the fossil record.

Oldest Whale Fossil Provides Date for East Africa's Uplift

March 17, 2015 1:56 pm | by Southern Methodist Univ. | News | Comments

Paleontologists have tapped a fossil from the most precisely dated beaked whale in the world - and the only stranded whale ever found so far inland on the African continent - to pinpoint, for the first time, a date when East Africa's mysterious elevation began.

Yet Another Saturn? Second Minor Planet May Have Rings

March 17, 2015 1:45 pm | by MIT, Jennifer Chu | News | Comments

Scientists recently detected the minor planet Chariklo’s ring system — a surprising finding, as it had been thought that centaurs are relatively dormant. Now scientists at MIT and elsewhere have detected a possible ring system around a second centaur, Chiron.

Wealth, Power Stronger than Survival of the Fittest

March 17, 2015 8:50 am | by Arizona State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have discovered a dramatic decline in genetic diversity in male lineages 4,000 to 8,000 years ago- likely the result of the accumulation of material wealth- while in contrast, female genetic diversity was on the rise. This male-specific decline occurred during the mid- to late-Neolithic period.

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Scientists: Yeti is Not an Unknown Bear

March 16, 2015 3:00 pm | by Pensoft Publishers | News | Comments

A Venezuelan evolutionary biologist and a U.S. zoologist say they have refuted — through mitochondrial DNA sequencing — a recent claim also based on such sequencing that an unknown type of bear must exist in the Himalayas and that it may be, at least in part, the source of yeti legends. 

Your Toe is a Big Deal

March 13, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of the Witwatersrand | News | Comments

Our skeletons hold tell-tale signs that show that human bipedalism– walking upright and on two feet– is unique to humans especially when compared to our closest living relatives, apes. Exactly when these signs first appear in our evolutionary history is one of the fundamental questions driving the study of human evolution.

Humans Adapted to Rainforests Long Before We Thought

March 13, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Oxford | News | Comments

An international research team has shed new light on the diet of some of the earliest recorded humans in Sri Lanka. The researchers analyzed the carbon and oxygen isotopes in the teeth of 26 individuals, with the oldest dating back 20,000 years. They found that nearly all the teeth analyzed suggested a diet largely sourced from the rainforest.

Archeologists Find Ancient Pretzels

March 12, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press | News | Comments

Archeologists say two pretzels unearthed during a dig on the banks of the Danube in the German city of Regensburg could be more than 300 years old— and are little different to the doughy product available in the state's famous beer halls today.

Q&A: Nils Stenseth, Asia's Climate and Europe's Plague

March 12, 2015 7:00 am | by Lily Barback, Associate Editor | News | Comments

Laboratory Equipment’s scientist of the week is Nils Stenseth, from the Univ. of Oslo. He and a team discovered that a long believed theory is half correct. Climate fluctuation was, indeed, linked to Europe’s plague… but it was Asia’s climate.

Slime Helps Explain Ancient Roads

March 11, 2015 3:00 pm | by UWE Bristol | News | Comments

Scientists from Greece and the UK have used slime molds to help look back to a period from the first century BC to the fourth century AD when Roman roads were being built in the Balkans. The work found that slime mold imitates the organic development of roads.

Ancient DNA Helps ID Origins of Caribbean Slaves

March 10, 2015 7:00 am | by Stanford Univ. School of Medicine | News | Comments

A newly developed genetic technique enabled researchers to sequence DNA from the teeth of 300-year-old skeletons, helping to pinpoint where in Africa three slaves had likely lived before being captured.

Teeth Shed Light on Early Herders' Path Through Africa

March 9, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Utah | News | Comments

A study of nearly 2,000-year-old livestock teeth show that early herders from northern Africa could have traveled past Kenya’s Lake Victoria on their way to southern Africa because the area was grassy– not tsetse fly-infested bushland as previously believed.

Millions of Men Descended from 11 Leaders

March 9, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Leicester | News | Comments

Geneticists have discovered that millions of modern Asian men are descended from 11 powerful dynastic leaders who lived up to 4,000 years ago— including Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan. The study examined the male-specific Y chromosome, which is passed from father to son, in more than 5,000 Asian men belonging to 127 populations.

Ancient Metal Production Caused Four Times More Pollution

March 6, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Pittsburgh | News | Comments

The ancient Mongols have a reputation for having been fierce warriors. A new study shows them to have been unmatched polluters. Ancient copper and silver production created four times more pollution than today’s methods.  

Studying History’s Worst Diseases Helps Modern Science

March 6, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

The study of diseases such as bubonic plague, smallpox or scurvy is about more than simply gleaning historical information from a cabinet of increasingly distant medical curiosities. As time goes by, scientific knowledge is not just informing the work of historians; it is being informed by it. The work is providing vital new information in the fight against modern-day “plagues,” such as cancer and dementia.

Busted: Pre-Columbians Had Significant Facial Variation

March 6, 2015 7:00 am | by NC State Univ. | News | Comments

A team of anthropology researchers has found significant differences in facial features between seven different pre-Columbian peoples they evaluated from what is now Peru– disproving a longstanding perception that these groups were physically homogenous. The finding may lead scholars to revisit any hypotheses about human migration patterns that rested on the idea that there was little skeletal variation in pre-Columbian South America.

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