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Secrets of Dinosaur Ecology Found in Fragile Amber

October 20, 2014 2:41 pm | by The Geological Society of America | News | Comments

Ryan McKellar’s research sounds like it was plucked from Jurassic Park: he studies pieces of amber found buried with dinosaur skeletons. But rather than re-creating dinosaurs, McKellar uses the tiny pieces of fossilized tree resin to study the world in which the now-extinct behemoths lived.

Degenerative Spinal Condition Found in Royal Mummies

October 20, 2014 7:00 am | by Wiley | News | Comments

Ankylosing spondylitis is a systemic disease that causes inflammation in the spinal joints and...

Ancient Mountains Fed Early Life

October 17, 2014 7:00 am | by The Australian National Univ. | Videos | Comments

Scientists have found evidence for a huge mountain range that sustained an explosion of life on...

International Effort Needed to Protect Important Footprints

October 16, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Colorado Denver | News | Comments

An international team of advisors is dedicated to creating a museum complex in Tanzania...

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Weird Fossils Confirmed as Distant Cousins

October 16, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Adelaide | News | Comments

More than 100 years since they were first discovered, some of the world's most bizarre fossils have been identified as distant relatives of humans. The fossils belong to 500-million-year-old blind water creatures. Alien-like in appearance, they were filter-feeders shaped like a figure eight. Their strange anatomy has meant that no one has been able to place them accurately on the tree of life, until now.

Extinct Roos were Made for Walking

October 16, 2014 7:00 am | by Brown Univ. | News | Comments

A new paper posits that the Pleistocene members of the now-extinct family of sthenurine kangaroos were likely bipedal walkers. The scientists make their case based on a rigorous statistical and biomechanical analysis of the bones of sthenurines and other kangaroos past and present.

Malaria is Shaping the Human Genome

October 16, 2014 7:00 am | by The Univ. of Western Australia | News | Comments

For millennia, malaria has been a major killer of children in Africa and other parts of the world. In doing so, it has been a major force of evolutionary selection on the human genome.


We're Hardwired to See Spiders

October 15, 2014 7:00 am | by Inside Science News Service, Nala Rogers | News | Comments

The spider's iconic leggy shape can abruptly yank our attention, even when we’re focused on something else, according to a new study. Other shapes such as houseflies and hypodermic needles don’t draw our attention in the same way. This suggests that spiders may be hardwired into our visual systems, helping us avoid a threat that our ancestors faced for millions of years.

Researchers Uncover Evolution of Extreme Parasites

October 15, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Basel | News | Comments

Extreme adaptations of species often cause such significant changes that their evolutionary history is difficult to reconstruct. Now, zoologists have discovered a new parasite species that represents the missing link between fungi and an extreme group of parasites.

Archaeologists Find Remains of Iron Age Chariot

October 14, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Leicester | News | Comments

Archaeologists have unearthed a hoard of rare bronze fittings from a 2nd or 3rd century BC chariot that appears to have been buried as a religious offering. The pieces appear to have been gathered in a box, before being planted in the ground upon a layer of cereal chaff and burnt as part of a religious ritual.

Climate Model Says Icebergs Once Traveled to Florida

October 13, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Massachusetts at Amherst | News | Comments

Using a first-of-its-kind, high-resolution numerical model to describe ocean circulation during the last ice age about 21,000 year ago, an oceanographer has shown that icebergs and melt water from the North American ice sheet would have regularly reached South Carolina and even southern Florida.

Radiocarbon Dating Shifts Greek Bronze Age

October 10, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Birmingham | News | Comments

Conventional estimates for the collapse of the Aegean civilization may be incorrect by up to a century, according to new radiocarbon analysis. While historical chronologies traditionally place the end of the Greek Bronze Age at around 1025 BCE, this latest research suggests a date 70 to 100 years earlier.


Asian Cave Drawings as Old as European Art

October 9, 2014 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Seth Borenstein | News | Comments

Ancient cave drawings in Indonesia are as old as famous prehistoric art in Europe, according to a new study that shows our ancestors were drawing all over the world 40,000 years ago. And it hints at an even earlier dawn of creativity in modern humans— going back to Africa— than scientists had thought.

Bringing History into Three Dimensions

October 3, 2014 7:00 am | by Lily Barback, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

The Turkana Basin, which stretches from northern Kenya to southern Ethiopia, is one of the most continuous fossil records of the Plio-Pleistocene, with some fossils as old as the Cretaceous period. This August and September, the treasure trove of prehistoric records was studied by paleontologist Louise Leakey, the granddaughter of the famous Louis and Mary Leakey.

Human, Ape Cerebellum Grew Quickly

October 3, 2014 7:00 am | by Cell Press | News | Comments

A new study could rewrite the story of ape and human brain evolution. While the neocortex of the brain has been called "the crowning achievement of evolution and the biological substrate of human mental prowess," newly reported evolutionary rate comparisons show that the cerebellum expanded up to six times faster than anticipated throughout the evolution of apes, including humans.

African Skeleton’s DNA Sheds Light on Human Origins

September 30, 2014 7:00 am | by Garvan Institute of Medical Research | News | Comments

What can DNA from the skeleton of a man who lived 2,330 years ago in the southernmost tip of Africa tell us about ourselves as humans? A great deal when his DNA profile is one of the earliest diverged– oldest in genetic terms– found to date in a region where modern humans are believed to have originated roughly 200,000 years ago.

Tooth in Bone Shows Predators Tangled Across Land, Sea

September 29, 2014 2:00 pm | by Virginia Tech | News | Comments

About 210 million years ago, entirely different kinds of reptiles called phytosaurs and rauisuchids were at the top of the food chain. It was widely believed the two top predators didn’t interact much as the former was king of the water, and the latter ruled the land. But those ideas are changing, thanks largely to the contents of a single bone.


Human Genome was Shaped by Internal Arms Race

September 29, 2014 7:00 am | by UC Santa Cruz | News | Comments

New findings suggest that an evolutionary arms race between rival elements within the genomes of primates drove the evolution of complex regulatory networks that orchestrate the activity of genes in every cell of our bodies.

Study Tracked Sea Levels Over Five Ice Ages

September 26, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Southampton | News | Comments

Land ice decay at the end of the last five ice ages caused global sea levels to rise at rates of up to 5.5 meters per century, according to a new study. Researchers have developed a 500,000 year record of sea level variability to provide the first account of how quickly sea level changed during the last five ice age cycles.

Our Water is Older than Our Sun

September 26, 2014 7:00 am | by Carnegie Institution | News | Comments

Water was crucial to the rise of life on Earth and is also important to evaluating the possibility of life on other planets. Identifying the original source of Earth’s water is key to understanding how life-fostering environments come into being and how likely they are to be found elsewhere. New work has found that much of our Solar System’s water likely originated as ices that formed in interstellar space.

Stone Age Tools Weren't African Invention

September 26, 2014 7:00 am | by Royal Holloway, Univ. of London | News | Comments

A new discovery of thousands of Stone Age tools has provided a major insight into human innovation 325,000 years ago and how early technological developments spread across the world. Researchers have found evidence that challenges the belief that a type of technology known as Levallois was invented in Africa and then spread to other continents as the human population expanded.

Fossil Alters Evolutionary Timeline by 60 M Years

September 25, 2014 8:07 am | by Virginia Tech | News | Comments

Scientists have found evidence in the fossil record that complex multicellularity appeared in living things about 600 million years ago– nearly 60 million years before skeletal animals appeared during a huge growth spurt of new life on Earth known as the Cambrian Explosion.

Modern Humans Weren't Wimps, They Braved the Cold

September 23, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

Recent finds at Willendorf in Austria reveal that modern humans were living in cool steppe-like conditions some 43,500 years ago– and that their presence overlapped with that of Neanderthals for far longer than we thought.

Researchers Look at the Origins of Plate Tectonics

September 18, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Sydney | News | Comments

The mystery of what kick-started the motion of our earth's massive tectonic plates across its surface has been explained by researchers. Their new model also makes a number of predictions explaining features that have long puzzled the geoscience community.

Europeans Descended from Three Groups

September 18, 2014 7:00 am | by Howard Hughes Medical Institute | News | Comments

New studies of ancient DNA are shifting scientists' ideas of how groups of people migrated across the globe and interacted with one another thousands of years ago. By comparing nine ancient genomes to those of modern humans, scientists have shown that previously unrecognized groups contributed to the genetic mix now present in most modern-day Europeans.

We Evolved Unique Faces for a Purpose

September 17, 2014 7:00 am | by UC Berkeley | News | Comments

The amazing variety of human faces– far greater than that of most other animals– is the result of evolutionary pressure to make each of us unique and easily recognizable. Our highly visual social interactions are almost certainly the driver of this evolutionary trend.

Meteorite Doomed Dinos, Altered Forests

September 17, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Arizona | News | Comments

The meteorite impact that spelled doom for the dinosaurs 66 million years ago decimated the evergreens among the flowering plants to a much greater extent than their deciduous peers. Researchers have found evidence that, after the event, fast-growing, deciduous angiosperms had replaced their slow-growing, evergreen peers to a large extent.

Early Earth Was Less Hellish than Thought

September 16, 2014 7:00 am | by Vanderbilt Univ. | News | Comments

Conditions on Earth for the first 500 million years after it formed may have been surprisingly similar to the present day, complete with oceans, continents and active crustal plates. This alternate view of Earth’s first geologic eon, called the Hadean, has gained substantial new support from the first detailed comparison of zircon crystals that formed more than 4 billion years ago with those formed contemporaneously in Iceland.

Ancient Animal Uses Familiar Tools to Build an Odd Head

September 15, 2014 7:00 am | by Stowers Institute for Medical Research | News | Comments

New sea lamprey studies have shown remarkably conserved gene expression patterns in jawless versus jawed vertebrates. The finding means that the genetic program used by jawed vertebrates— including us— was up and running ages before a vertebrate ever possessed a recognizable face.

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