06 Jul 2015

How the mammoth got its wool: Genetic changes are identified

Evolutionary change in a gene resurrected in the lab from the extinct woolly mammoth altered the gene’s temperature sensitivity and likely was part of a suite of adaptations that allowed the mammoth to survive in harsh arctic environments, according to new research.

Credit: Giant Screen Films © 2012 D3D Ice Age, LLC
02 Jul 2015

First comprehensive analysis of the woolly mammoth genome completed

The first comprehensive analysis of the woolly mammoth genome reveals extensive genetic changes that allowed mammoths to adapt to life in the arctic.

01 Jul 2015

Dagger-like Canines of Saber-toothed Cats Took Years to Grow

New research shows that the fearsome teeth of the saber-toothed cat Smilodon fatalis fully emerged at a later age than those of modern big cats, but grew at a rate about double that of their living relatives.

30 Jun 2015

Researchers calculate amount of undiscovered meteorite impact sites on Earth’s surface

The geologists Prof. Dr. Stefan Hergarten and Prof. Dr. Thomas Kenkmann from the Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences of the University of Freiburg have published the world’s first study on the question of how many meteorite craters there should be on the Earth’s surface.

29 Jun 2015

Extreme makeover: Mankind’s unprecedented transformation of Earth

Human beings are pushing the planet in an entirely new direction with revolutionary implications for its life, a new study by researchers at the University of Leicester has suggested.

Courtesy of Robin Wordsworth Caption: Conceptual rendition of the competing warm and cold scenarios for early Mars
29 Jun 2015

Unveiling the ancient climate of Mars

The high seas of Mars may never have existed. According to a new study that looks at two opposite climate scenarios of early Mars, a cold and icy planet billions of years ago better explains water drainage and erosion features seen on the planet today.

This skull of a scarlet macaw (Ara macao) was excavated from Pueblo Bonito in New Mexico by researchers from the American Museum of Natural History in 1897. Credit : AMNH/D. Finnin
25 Jun 2015

Scarlet macaw skeletons point to early emergence of Pueblo hierarchy

New work on the skeletal remains of scarlet macaws found in an ancient Pueblo settlement indicates that social and political hierarchies may have emerged in the American Southwest earlier than previously thought.

09 Jun 2015

What rabbits can tell us about Neanderthal extinction?

When thinking about the extinction of Neanderthals some 30,000 years ago, rabbits may not be the first thing that spring to mind. But the way rabbits were hunted and eaten by Neanderthals and modern humans – or not, as the case may be – may offer vital clues as to why one species died out while the other flourished.

09 Jun 2015

Floods as war weapons

A new study shows that, from 1500 until 2000, about a third of floods in southwestern Netherlands were deliberately caused by humans during wartimes.

02 Jun 2015

Study explores how past Native-American settlement modified Western New York forests

A new study by University at Buffalo geographers explores how humans altered the arboreal make-up of Western New York forests before European settlers arrived in large numbers.

20 May 2015

The size of domestic animals has increased over time

A study on Zooarchaeology shows successive changes in the size of domestic animals over time relating to changes in the landscape and production systems.

29 Apr 2015

Study finds ancient clam beaches not so natural

Casting a large interdisciplinary research net has helped Simon Fraser University archaeologist Dana Lepofsky and 10 collaborators dig deeper into their findings about ancient clam gardens in the Pacific Northwest to formulate new perspectives.

29 Apr 2015

Lower back pain may have ties to our last common ancestor with chimpanzees

A Simon Fraser University researcher has uncovered what may be the first quantified evidence demonstrating a relationship between upright locomotion and spinal health.

16 Apr 2015

Meteorites key to the story of Earth’s layers

A new analysis of the chemical make-up of meteorites has helped scientists work out when the Earth formed its layers.

08 Apr 2015

Variability helps mammals to become invasive

From the time humans began discovering and conquering new continents, they also started transporting animals and plants around the world and releasing them in locations where they never occurred before. Most of these alien species died out quickly, but many established populations and some even multiplied and became invasive, causing tremendous economic and environmental harm. In a recently published article in the journal “The American Naturalist”, scientists from Spain, Switzerland and Germany argue that successful invaders are particularly variable and can therefore adapt to many different environmental conditions.

In Australia, for example, rabbits have devastated large areas of fertile land resulting in millions of dollars of damage to crops each year and the extinction of many native species. In Europe, there are about 13,000 known alien species, which cost more than €12 billion (US $14 billion) in damages each year.

To prevent further problems, scientists have searched for general traits that could characterize successful invaders. Unfortunately, this search has had limited success. In a new study published in the journal „The American Naturalist”, Manuela González-Suárez (Estación Biológica de Doñana CSIC, Spain), Sven Bacher (University of Fribourg, Switzerland) and Jonathan Jeschke (Technische Universität München, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries and Freie Universität Berlin, Germany) suggest that previous research largely failed to identify predictive factors for invasion success because it generally focused on average species traits. The authors argue that species exposed to a novel environment will have higher chances of surviving if they are variable and can therefore adapt to many different environmental conditions.

The study analyzes a global dataset of introductions of mammals to locations outside their native ranges and shows that species with large variation in body size establish more often. These findings can help predict and prevent new invasions, for example by focusing control measures on the most variable species. In addition, the study can also help improve the control of biological pest organisms or the reintroduction of species of conservation concern.

01 Apr 2015

What 300,000 year old eggshells reveal about the environment of the Paleolithic

In the 1990s the discovery of the oldest man made and completely preserved wooden hunting weapons made the Paleolithic excavation site in Schoningen internationally renowned.

12 Mar 2015

Some genes ‘foreign’ in origin and not from our ancestors

Many animals, including humans, acquired essential ‘foreign’ genes from microorganisms co-habiting their environment in ancient times, according to research published in the open access journal Genome Biology.

10 Mar 2015

Early herders’ grassy route through Africa

A University of Utah 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.

05 Mar 2015

Evidence indicates Yucatan Peninsula hit by tsunami 1,500 years ago

The eastern coastline of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, a mecca for tourists, may have been walloped by a tsunami between 1,500 and 900 years ago, says a new study involving Mexico’s Centro Ecological Akumal (CEA) and the University of Colorado Boulder.

04 Mar 2015

Genetics reveals where emperor penguins survived the last ice age

A study of how climate change has affected emperor penguins over the last 30,000 years found that only three populations may have survived during the last ice age, and that the Ross Sea in Antarctica was likely the refuge for one of these populations.

04 Mar 2015

Vampire Bat retrovirus “fossil” found

Scientists discovered a new retrovirus “fossil” found in the common vampire bat which is homologous to retroviruses in rodents and primates.

26 Feb 2015

Drilling ancient African lakes sheds light on human evolution

How was human evolution and migration influenced by past changes in climate?

24 Feb 2015

Asian tree rings explain historical plague outbreaks in Europe

An interdisciplinary consortium of researchers from Oslo University and the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, for the first time, demonstrate that climate-driven plague outbreaks in Asia were repeatedly transmitted over several centuries into southern European harbors.

21 Feb 2015

Greenland is melting — The past might tell what the future holds

A team of scientists lead by Danish geologist Nicolaj Krog Larsen have managed to quantify how the Greenland Ice Sheet reacted to a warm period 8,000-5,000 years ago.

20 Feb 2015

Dolphins set up home in the Mediterranean after the last Ice Age

The bottlenose dolphin only colonised the Mediterranean after the last Ice Age – about 18,000 years ago – according to new research.

19 Feb 2015

Animals tend to evolve toward larger size over time, Stanford study finds

Does evolution follow certain rules? If, in the words of the famed evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, one could “rewind the tape of life”, would certain biological trends reemerge? Asked another way: can evolution be predicted?

19 Feb 2015

Discovery: Tropical fire ants traveled the world on 16th century ships

Researchers now know the invasion history of the tropical fire ant (Solenopsis geminata), the first ant species known to travel the globe by sea.

17 Feb 2015

Plants survive better through mass extinctions than animals

At least 5 mass extinction events have profoundly changed the history of life on Earth. But a new study led by researchers at the University of Gothenburg shows that plants have been very resilient to those events.

22 Jan 2015

Most endangered chimpanzees have complex evolutionary past, perilous future

In central Cameroon, two different subspecies of chimpanzees live on opposite banks of the Sanaga River, the only instance of two different chimp subspecies living in the wild in a single country.

22 Jan 2015

Doubt cast on global firestorm generated by dino-killing asteroid

Pioneering new research has debunked the theory that the asteroid that is thought to have led to the extinction of dinosaurs also caused vast global firestorms that ravaged planet Earth.

09 Jan 2015

The devil is in the detail

Researchers have looked at a species of fish to help unravel one of the biggest mysteries in evolutionary biology.

06 Jan 2015

Study casts doubt on mammoth-killing cosmic impact

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 from the University of California, Davis. The study, of soil from Syria, is the latest to discredit the controversial theory that a cosmic impact triggered the Younger Dryas cold period.

05 Jan 2015

Study puts new perspective on snake evolution

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.

19 Dec 2014

A clear, molecular view of the evolution of human color vision

Many genetic mutations in visual pigments, spread over millions of years, were required for humans to evolve from a primitive mammal with a dim, shadowy view of the world into a greater ape able to see all the colors in a rainbow.

17 Dec 2014

Past global warming similar to today’s

The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth’s climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, University of Utah researchers and their colleagues found.

17 Dec 2014

Past global warming period echoes today’s

The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth’s climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, researchers have found.

15 Dec 2014

What Quails can teach us about the gait of Dinosaurs

In the “Proceedings of the Royal Society B” the team published the first detailed analysis of the bipedal gait of quails. The scientists analyzed which effect the birds posture has on the movement of their legs and on their stability when they walk.

14 Dec 2014

Ancient creature discovered in the depths of the Arctic Ocean

In the depths of the Arctic Ocean, buried deep in the sediment, an ancient creature waited for over a million years to be discovered.

14 Dec 2014

New insights into the origins of agriculture could help shape the future of food

Agricultural decisions made by our ancestors more than 10,000 years ago could hold the key to food security in the future, according to new research by the University of Sheffield.

03 Dec 2014

Parasites and the evolution of primate culture

Learning from others and innovation have undoubtedly helped advance civilization. But these behaviours can carry costs as well as benefits.