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Ancestors Used Hands Like Modern Humans

January 23, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Kent | News | Comments

New research suggests pre-Homo human ancestral species, such as Australopithecus africanus, used human-like hand postures much earlier than was previously thought. Anthropologists have produced the first research findings to support archaeological evidence for stone tool use among fossil australopiths 3-2 million years ago.

Dino-killing Asteroid Didn't Cause Global Firestorms

January 22, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Exeter | News | Comments

Scientists recreated the energy released from an extraterrestrial collision with Earth that...

Ocean's Dust Sheds Light on Supernovae

January 21, 2015 7:00 am | by Australian National Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists plumbing the depths of the ocean have made a surprise finding that could change the...

X-rays Shed Light on Scrolls Buried by Volcano

January 20, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press, Frank Jordans | News | Comments

Scientists have succeeded in reading parts of an ancient scroll that was buried in a volcanic...

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Researchers Study Quasars in the Early Universe

January 19, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

Two teams of astronomers have looked back nearly 13 billion years, when the Universe was less than 10 percent its present age, to determine how quasars— extremely luminous objects powered by supermassive black holes— regulate the formation of stars and the build-up of the most massive galaxies. They found that a quasar spits out cold gas at speeds up to 2,000 kilometers per second, and across distances of nearly 200,000 light years.

Mosquitoes Stymied Ming Dynasty Invasion Attempts

January 16, 2015 2:00 pm | by Pennsylvania State Univ. | News | Comments

Chinese rulers spent hundreds of years and sacrificed countless lives building a meandering 5,500-mile earth, stone and brick wall along the country's northern border, designed to keep invaders from attacking the empire. Meanwhile, tiny germs and bugs were one brick in a wall that restrained China's own ambitions to conquer and incorporate parts of what is now called Vietnam and the empire's other southern neighbors.

Neanderthals as Advanced as Stone Age Man

January 15, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Montreal | News | Comments

A multi-purpose bone tool dating from the Neanderthal era has been discovered. This is the first time a multi-purpose bone tool from this period has been found. It proves that Neanderthals were able to understand the mechanical properties of bone and knew how to use it to make tools, abilities usually attributed to our species.


Q&A: Ian Armit and the Fall of the Bronze Age

January 15, 2015 7:00 am | by Lily Barback, Associate Editor | News | Comments

This week’s scientist is Ian Armit. He and a team from the Univ. of Bradford definitively proved that climate change did not cause the huge population collapse in Europe at the end of the Bronze Age.

Research Throws Origin of Asteroids into Doubt

January 15, 2015 7:00 am | by Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Asteroids may be a byproduct of planet formation rather than planetary building blocks. Research suggests collisions of planetary embryos– the seeds to the planets in our solar system that existed 4 billion years ago– could be the origin of the material that formed asteroids.

Oldest Butchery Tools Aided Communication Evolution

January 13, 2015 3:00 pm | by UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Two and a half million years ago, our hominin ancestors in the African savanna crafted rocks into shards that could slice apart game animals. Over the next 700,000 years, this technology spread throughout the continent. Scientists have found compelling evidence for the coevolution of early Stone Age slaughtering tools and our ability to communicate and teach, shedding new light on the power of culture to shape evolution.

Viruses May Make Us Smarter

January 12, 2015 3:00 pm | by Lund Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have long been aware that endogenous retroviruses constitute around 5 percent of our DNA. For many years, they were considered junk DNA of no real use, a side-effect of our evolutionary journey. A new study has indicated that these inherited viruses play an important role in building up the complex networks that characterize the human brain.

Two-faced Fish Indicates Our Ancestors Weren't Shark-y

January 12, 2015 3:00 pm | by Oxford Univ. | News | Comments

An investigation of a 415 million year-old fish skull strongly suggests that the last common ancestor of all jawed vertebrates, including humans, was not very shark-like. This adds further weight to the growing idea that sharks are not “primitive.”


Tropical Fossils Shed Light on Polar Ice

January 9, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Florida | News | Comments

The balmy islands of Seychelles couldn’t feel farther from Antarctica, but their fossil corals could reveal much about the fate of polar ice sheets. About 125,000 years ago, the average global temperature was only slightly warmer, but sea levels rose high enough to submerge the locations of many of today’s coastal cities. Understanding what caused seas to rise then could shed light on how to protect those cities today.

Ancient Dog Study Shows They Came to America Late

January 8, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

A new study suggests that dogs may have first successfully migrated to the Americas only about 10,000 years ago, thousands of years after the first human migrants crossed a land bridge from Siberia to North America. The study, which looked at the genetic characteristics of 84 individual dogs from more than a dozen sites in North and South America, is the largest analysis so far of ancient dogs in the Americas.

Study: Cosmic Impact Didn't Kill Mammoths

January 6, 2015 3:00 pm | by UC Davis | News | Comments

Rock soil droplets formed by heating most likely came from Stone Age house fires and not from a disastrous cosmic impact 12,900 years ago, according to new research. The study, of soil from Syria, is the latest to discredit the controversial theory that a cosmic impact triggered the Younger Dryas cold period.

Professor Studies Rock with 30,000 Diamonds

January 6, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Tennessee Knoxville | News | Comments

Diamonds are beautiful and enigmatic. Though chemical reactions that create the highly coveted sparkles still remain a mystery, a professor is studying a rare golf-ball sized chunk of rock covered in 30,000 diamonds that may hold clues to the gem's origins.

Research Dishes Dirt on a Dead Civilization

January 5, 2015 3:01 pm | by Univ. of Cincinnati | News | Comments

The Greek village of Nichoria remained standing through both the Late Bronze Age and the Greek Dark Age, and previous research has suggested that Nichoria turned to cattle ranching during the region’s collapse in the Dark Age. That’s because the remains of cattle bones are prevalent among bone fragments in the soil. But new research shows that isn’t the full story.


Snakes are More Complex than Thought

January 5, 2015 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln | News | Comments

Snakes may not have shoulders, but their bodies aren't as simple as commonly thought, according to a new study that could change how scientists think snakes evolved. Paleobiologists have found distinctions among snakes' vertebral bones that matched those found in the backbones of four-legged lizards.

Sedentary Lifestyle Made Human Bones Lighter

December 23, 2014 7:00 am | by American Museum of Natural History | News | Comments

Research has shown that modern human skeletons evolved into their lightly built form only relatively recently— after the start of the Holocene about 12,000 years ago and even more recently in some human populations. The work revealed a higher decrease in the density of lower limbs, suggesting that the transformation may be linked to humans' shift from a foraging lifestyle to a sedentary agricultural one.

Modern Teeth May Shed Light on Extinct Animal’s Diet

December 23, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

Reconstructing what extinct organisms fed on can be a real challenge. But, a study of tooth enamel in mammals living today in the equatorial forest of Gabon could ultimately shed light on the diet of long extinct animals, according to new research.

Clay Seals May Support Bible Story

December 22, 2014 9:26 am | by Associated Press, Janet McConnaughey | News | Comments

Impressions from ancient clay seals found at a small site in Israel east of Gaza are signs of government in an area thought to be entirely rural during the 10th century B.C. This could indicate that Biblical accounts of David and his son Solomon described real kings rather than the backwater chieftains considered more likely by some archaeologists.

Science Announces 2014’s Top 10 Breakthroughs

December 19, 2014 7:00 am | by American Association for the Advancement of Science | News | Comments

The Rosetta spacecraft caught up with the comet known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko beyond Mars this August, and its preliminary results— along with the studies it will allow in the near-future— top this year's list of the most important scientific breakthroughs, according to the editors of Science.

Ancient Fossil Gives Clues to Fossil Formation

December 18, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Missouri | News | Comments

A new study is challenging accepted ideas about how ancient soft-bodied organisms become part of the fossil record. Findings suggest that bacteria involved in the decay of those organisms play an active role in how fossils are formed— often in a matter of just a few tens to hundreds of years.

Q&A: Grant Zazula and the Disappearance of Mastodons

December 18, 2014 7:00 am | by Lily Barback, Associate Editor | News | Comments

This week’s Scientist of the Week is Grant Zazula, a paleontologist for the government of Yukon. He and a team debunked theories that over-hunting by early humans led to the disappearance of mastodons from the Arctic and Subarctic.

Earth May Have Made Its Own Water

December 18, 2014 7:00 am | by The Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

A new study is helping to answer a longstanding question that has recently moved to the forefront of earth science: Did our planet make its own water through geologic processes, or did water come to us via icy comets from the far reaches of the solar system? The answer is likely “both.” And the same amount of water that currently fills the Pacific Ocean could be buried deep inside the planet right now.

Ancient, Hydrogen-rich Waters Found Around the Globe

December 17, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Toronto | News | Comments

A team of scientists has mapped the location of hydrogen-rich waters found trapped kilometers beneath Earth's surface in rock fractures in Canada, South Africa and Scandinavia. Common in Precambrian Shield rocks— the oldest rocks on Earth— the ancient waters have a chemistry similar to that found near deep sea vents, suggesting these waters can support microbes living in isolation from the surface.

Jaws Didn't Wipe Out His Cousin

December 17, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Manchester | News | Comments

New research suggests our jawed ancestors weren't responsible for the demise of their jawless cousins as had been assumed. Instead, researchers believe rising sea levels are more likely to blame.

There Was No Single Paleo Diet

December 17, 2014 7:00 am | by Georgia State Univ. | News | Comments

The Paleolithic diet, or caveman diet, is a weight-loss craze in which people emulate the diet of plants and animals eaten by early humans during the Stone Age. But, there's very little evidence that any early hominids had specialized diets or there were specific food categories that seemed particularly important.

Commensal Bacteria were Shapers of Human Populations

December 16, 2014 2:00 pm | by American Society for Microbiology | News | Comments

Using mathematical modeling, researchers have shown that commensal bacteria that cause problems later in life most likely played a key role in stabilizing early human populations. The finding offers an explanation as to why humans coevolved with microbes that can cause or contribute to cancer, inflammation and degenerative diseases of aging.

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