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Evolution

Oldest occurrence of arthropods preserved in amber: Fly, mite specimens are 100 million years older than previous amber inclusions

1000pa (Aug. 27, 2012) — An international team of scientists has discovered the oldest record of arthropods -- invertebrate animals that include insects, arachnids, and crustaceans -- preserved in amber. The specimens, one fly and two mites found in millimeter-scale droplets of amber from northeastern Italy, are about 100 million years older than any other amber arthropod ever collected. The group's findings, which are published August 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pave the way for a better evolutionary understanding of the most diverse group of organisms in the world.

"Amber is an extremely valuable tool for paleontologists because it preserves specimens with microscopic fidelity, allowing...

Out of Europe: Researchers look at the spread of dysentery from Europe to industrializing countries

1000pa (Aug. 3, 2012) — Researchers have found that a bacterium that emerged centuries ago in Europe has now been spreading globally into countries undergoing rapid development and industrialization. Unlike other diarrheal diseases, this one is unlikely to be resolved by providing access to clean water. As developing countries become more industrialized the numbers of infections with dysentery-causing Shigella flexneri are known to decline, associated with improved health, lifestyle and...

Mountains, seaway triggered North American dinosaur surge

1000pa (Aug. 2, 2012) — The rise of the Rocky Mountains and the appearance of a major seaway that divided North America may have boosted the evolution of new dinosaur species, according to a new Ohio University-led study. Share This: See Also: Plants & AnimalsExtinctionEvolutionary BiologyEarth & ClimateGeographyExotic SpeciesFossils & RuinsDinosaursPaleontologyReference CretaceousGondwanaCenozoicMesozoic

The finding, published...

Eating habits of giant Jurassic age dinosaur discovered

1000pa (July 30, 2012) — A team of researchers from the University of Bristol, Natural History Museum of London, the University of Missouri and Ohio University has discovered the eating habits of Diplodocus using a three-dimensional model of the dinosaur’s skull. The eating habits of the herbivore have been uncertain since its discovery more than 130 years ago. Understanding these behaviors could help scientists better understand extinct and modern ecosystems and what it takes to...

'Basarab' surname may not indicate direct relation to Vlad the Impaler

1000pa (July 26, 2012) — A study by the Genographic Project has shown that not all individuals carrying the Romanian "Basarab" surname, the first dynasty of Wallachian kings that included the real-life Dracula, can be direct biological descendants of the Basarab dynasty.

The Basarab dynasty ruled Wallachia, the historical and geographical southern region of present-day Romania, for almost three centuries (1330-1601) and had among its members Vlad III the Impaler, commonly known...

Newfound gene may help bacteria survive in extreme environments: Resulting microbial lipids may also signify oxygen dips in Earth's history

1000pa (July 25, 2012) — In the days following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, methane-eating bacteria bloomed in the Gulf of Mexico, feasting on the methane that gushed, along with oil, from the damaged well. The sudden influx of microbes was a scientific curiosity: Prior to the oil spill, scientists had observed relatively few signs of methane-eating microbes in the area.

Now researchers at MIT have discovered a bacterial gene that may explain this sudden influx of...

Superfast evolution in sea stars

1000pa (July 23, 2012) — How quickly can new species arise? In as little as 6,000 years, according to a study of Australian sea stars.

"That's unbelievably fast compared to most organisms," said Rick Grosberg, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis and coauthor on the paper published July 18 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Grosberg is interested in how new species arise in the ocean. On land, groups of plants and animals can be physically...

Climate change and deforestation: Pre-human effect on biodiversity in northern Madagascar

1000pa (July 20, 2012) — A recent study, by an international research group led by Lounès Chickhi, group leader at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (Portugal) and CNRS researcher (in Toulouse, France), questions the prevailing account that degradation of tropical ecosystems is essentially a product of human activity. Their findings call for reassessment of the impact of local communities on their environment.

The impact of deforestation on loss of biodiversity is...

Ancient alteration of seawater chemistry linked with past climate change

1000pa (July 23, 2012) — Scientists have discovered a potential cause of Earth's "icehouse climate" cooling trend of the past 45 million years. It has everything to do with the chemistry of the world's oceans.

"Seawater chemistry is characterized by long phases of stability, which are interrupted by short intervals of rapid change," says geoscientist Ulrich Wortmann of the University of Toronto, lead author of a paper reporting the results and published this week in the journal...

New species of ancient rodents hint at what could be world's oldest grasslands

1000pa (July 23, 2012) — A paleontological team that includes scientists from the American Museum of Natural History; University of California, Santa Barbara; and Case Western Reserve University has described two ancient species of South American rodents, including the oldest chinchilla, a discovery that substantiates what might be the earliest grasslands in the world. The two new species lived near a chain of volcanoes about 32.5 million years ago in what are now the steep slopes of a...

Scientists connect seawater chemistry with ancient climate change and evolution

1000pa (July 19, 2012) — Humans get most of the blame for climate change, with little attention paid to the contribution of other natural forces. Now, scientists from the University of Toronto and the University of California Santa Cruz are shedding light on one potential cause of the cooling trend of the past 45 million years that has everything to do with the chemistry of the world's oceans.

"Seawater chemistry is characterized by long phases of stability, which are...

Fossil egg links dinosaurs to modern birds

1000pa (July 12, 2012) — Researchers have discovered a series of dinosaur eggs with a unique characteristic: they are oval in shape. The discovery supports the theory that birds and non-avian theropods, dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period, could have a common ancestor.

Before her death in December 2010, Nieves López Martínez, palaeontologist of the Complutense University of Madrid, was working on the research of dinosaur eggs with a very peculiar characteristic: an ovoid...

Skulls shed new light on the evolution of the cat

1000pa (July 11, 2012) — Modern cats diverged in skull shape from their sabre-toothed ancestors early in their evolutionary history and then followed separate evolutionary trajectories, according to new research from the University of Bristol published July 6 in PLoS ONE.

The study also found that the separation between modern domestic cats and big cats such as lions and tigers is also deeply rooted.

Dr Manabu Sakamoto and Dr Marcello Ruta in the School of Earth Sciences...

Pompeii-style volcanic ash fall preserved 'nursery' of earliest animals

1000pa (July 9, 2012) — A volcanic eruption around 579 million years ago buried a 'nursery' of the earliest-known animals under a Pompeii-like deluge of ash, preserving them as fossils in rocks in Newfoundland, new research suggests.

A team from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, in collaboration with the Memorial University of Newfoundland, looked for evidence of life from the mysterious Ediacaran period (635-542 million years ago) in which the first 'animals' -- complex...

Feathered saurians: Downy dinosaur discovered

1000pa (July 3, 2012) — The new fossil find from the chalk beds of the Franconian Jura evokes associations with a pet cemetery, for the young predatory dinosaur reveals clear traces of fluffy plumage. It also poses an intriguing question: Were all dinosaurs dressed in down?

The fossil of the fledgling saurian, probably newly hatched when it met its end, is remarkable in many ways. First of all, juveniles are extremely rare in the dinosaur fossil record, so every new discovery...

Newly discovered dinosaur implies greater prevalence of feathers; Megalosaur fossil represents first feathered dinosaur not closely related to birds

1000pa (July 2, 2012) — A new species of feathered dinosaur discovered in southern Germany is further changing the perception of how predatory dinosaurs looked. The fossil of Sciurumimus albersdoerferi,which lived about 150 million years ago, provides the first evidence of feathered theropod dinosaurs that are not closely related to birds.

The fossil is described in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on July 2.

"This is a surprising...

Cell research: Enzyme questions important principle of evolution

1000pa (July 2, 2012) — In evolutionary processes, it is the simple, economical solutions that prevail over the complex and laborious ones. A team of researchers led by Walter Rossmanith from the MedUni Vienna has now investigated the key enzyme, "ribonuclease P," which is found in every living organism. The surprising result is that the principle of evolutionary economy does not appear to apply to this enzyme.

Enzymes are hugely important for living things. From digestion to...

Date of earliest animal life reset by 30 million years

1000pa (June 28, 2012) — University of Alberta researchers have uncovered physical proof that animals existed 585 million years ago -- 30 million years earlier than previous records show.

The discovery was made by U of A geologists Ernesto Pecoits and Natalie Aubet in Uruguay. They found fossilized tracks a centimeter-long, slug-like animal left behind 585 million years ago in silty, shallow-water sediment.

A team of U of A researchers determined that the tracks were made...

How an ancestral fungus may have influenced coal formation

1000pa (June 28, 2012) — For want of a nail, the nursery rhyme goes, a kingdom was lost. A similar, seemingly innocuous change -- the evolution of a lineage of mushrooms -- may have had a massive impact on the carbon cycle, bringing an end to the 60-million year period during which coal deposits were formed.

Coal generated nearly half of the roughly four trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity consumed in the United States in 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information...

Neutrons explain how haemoglobin evolution in red blood cells helped the duck-billed platypus respire

1000pa (June 25, 2012) — Scientists have explained the evolutionary history of haemoglobin using what might seem an unlikely array of samples.

Researchers focused the world's most intense neutrons beams on the oxygen-carrying protein from a human, a duck-billed platypus, a chicken and a salt-water crocodile to explain how it has adapted to different body temperatures within different species. The results of research at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), Aachen University of...

Amazon was not all manufactured landscape, scientist says

1000pa (June 14, 2012) — Population estimates for the Amazon basin just before Europeans arrived range from 2 to 10 million people. The newly reported reconstruction of Amazonian prehistory by Smithsonian scientist Dolores R. Piperno and colleagues suggests that large areas of western Amazonia were sparsely inhabited. This clashes with the belief that most of Amazonia, including forests far removed from major rivers, was heavily occupied and modified.

The team's research is...

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Fossils 

Fossil Formation: How Do Fossils Form?
 

Book review

Dinosaurs Encyclopedia

Book Review

Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages ... WRITTEN BY A PROFESSIONAL paleontologist specifically for young readers, this guide to the Dinosauria is packed...