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Scientists discover evidence of giant panda's population history and local adaptation

Hungry giant panda bear eating bamboo. (Credit: © wusuowei / Fotolia)

A research team, led by Institute of Zoology of Chinese Academy of Sciences and BGI, has successfully reconstructed a continuous population history of the giant panda from its origin to the present. The findings suggested whereas global changes in climate were the primary drivers in panda population fluctuation for millions of years, human activities were likely to underlie recent population divergence and serious decline.

The latest study was published online in Nature Genetics.

The giant panda is the rarest member of the bear family. Sometimes considered the ambassador for all endangered species, it is a well-recognized symbol of international...

New way to look at dawn of life: Focus shifts from 'hardware' to 'software'

One of the great mysteries of life is how it began. What physical process transformed a nonliving mix of chemicals into something as complex as a living cell?

For more than a century, scientists have struggled to reconstruct the key first steps on the road to life. Until recently, their focus has been trained on how the simple building blocks of life might have been synthesized on the early Earth, or perhaps in space. But because it happened so long ago, all chemical traces have long...

Resurrection of extinct enzymes reveals evolutionary strategy for the invention of new functions

Duplication events and changes in specificity and activity in evolution of S. cerevisiae MalS enzymes. Gene duplications occur frequently during evolution and are important drivers of functional innovation. The MalS enzyme family in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a family of fungal metabolic enzymes that all originated from the same ancestral gene through repeated duplications. Resurrection of key ancestral enzymes allowed tracking of the changes in activity that happened during...

Rare fossil related to crabs, lobsters, shrimp: Exceptionally well preserved, including shell and soft parts

This shows the ventral view of the fossil Pauline avibella. (Credit: David J. Siveter, Derek E. G. Briggs, Derek J. Siveter, Mark D. Sutton and Sarah C. Joomun)

An international team of researchers have made an extremely rare discovery of a species of animal -- related to crabs, lobsters and shrimps -- that is new to science.

Scientists from the universities of Leicester, Oxford, Imperial and Yale have announced their discovery of a new and scientifically important fossil species...

Most ancient evidence of insect camouflage: 110 million years ago

The fossil is a predatory larva of the order Neuroptera covered by filamentous plant remains. (Credit: University of Barcelona)

An insect larva covered by plant remains that lived in the Early Cretaceous, about 110 million years ago, evidences the most ancient known insect camouflage, according to a paper published in the last edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The paper is based on the study of an amber piece found in 2008 in El Soplao outcrop...

Reconstruction of prehistoric DNA refutes criticism on theory of evolution

Dec. 11, 2012 — Scientists from VIB, KU Leuven, UGent and Harvard have succeeded in reconstructing DNA and proteins from prehistoric yeast cells. This made it possible to determine how genes developed and evolved into their current form over more than 100 million years.

Kevin Verstrepen (VIB/KU Leuven) said: "These results provide answers to an argument frequently used by opponents of the theory of evolution: the chance of the occurrence of a new characteristic -a functional new...

Asteroid that killed the dinosaurs also wiped out the 'Obamadon'

The asteroid collision widely thought to have killed the dinosaurs also led to extreme devastation among snake and lizard species, according to new research -- including the extinction of a newly identified lizard Yale and Harvard scientists have named Obamadon gracilis.

"The asteroid event is typically thought of as affecting the dinosaurs primarily," said Nicholas R. Longrich, a postdoctoral associate with Yale's Department of Geology and Geophysics and lead author of the study. "But...

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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...