Popular Science articles about Paleontology & Archaeology

Dinosaurs fell victim to perfect storm of events, study shows

Dinosaurs might have survived the asteroid strike that wiped them out if it had taken place slightly earlier or later in history, scientists say.

Mammoth and mastodon behavior was less roam, more stay at home

Research led by the University of Cincinnati's Brooke Crowley, posing with this mammoth mandible, has uncovered some interesting ideas about mammoth and mastodon behavior.Their scruffy beards weren't ironic, but there are reasons mammoths and mastodons could have been the hipsters of the Ice Age.

Dodos and spotted green pigeons are descendants of an island hopping bird

The mysterious spotted green pigeon (Caloenas maculata) was a relative of the dodo, according to scientists who have examined its genetic make-up. The authors say their results, published in the...

Serendipity at the Smithsonian: The 107-year journey of the beetle Rhipidocyrtus muiri

This image shows the incomplete, pinned portion of the specimen that was disassociated from the slide mounted portions for more than a generation. All of the body parts were reunited by chance in 2011.Serendipity leads University of Kansas scientists to the discovery and description of Rhipidocyrtus muiri -- a 107 year old, lost in collections specimen, which turned out to represent a new...

One secret of ancient amber revealed

The warm beauty of amber was captivating and mysterious enough to inspire myths in ancient times, and even today, some of its secrets remain locked inside the fossilized tree resin....

Discovery of Neandertal trait in ancient skull raises new questions about human evolution

The Xujiayao 15 late archaic human temporal bone from northern China, with
the extracted temporal labyrinth, is superimposed on a view of the Xujiayao site.Re-examination of a circa 100,000-year-old archaic early human skull found 35 years ago in Northern China has revealed the surprising presence of an inner-ear formation long thought to occur only...

Smithsonian scientist and collaborators revise timeline of human origins

A large brain, long legs, the ability to craft tools and prolonged maturation periods were all thought to have evolved together at the start of the <i>Homo</i> lineage in response to the Earth’s changing climate; however, scientists now have evidence that these traits arose separately rather than as a single package. In July 2014, Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Richard Potts and a team of researchers analyzed new scientific data and concluded that the ability of early humans to adjust to changing conditions ultimately enabled the earliest species of <i>Homo</i> to vary, survive and begin spreading from Africa to Eurasia 1.85 million years ago.Many traits unique to humans were long thought to have originated in the genus Homo between 2.4 and 1.8 million years ago in Africa. Although scientists have recognized these characteristics...

WSU researchers chart an ancient baby boom

Sites like Pueblo Bonito in northern New Mexico reached their maximum size in the early A.D. 1100s, just before a major drought began to decrease birth rates throughout the Southwest.Washington State University researchers have sketched out one of the greatest baby booms in North American history, a centuries-long "growth blip" among southwestern Native Americans between 500 to 1300 A.D.

We can eliminate the major tornado threat in Tornado Alley

When a strong warm most air flow comes to Tornado Alley, the violent clashes with the cold air flow can extend several states, making tornado outbreaks at several places in a very short period.The annually recurring devastating tornado attacks in US Tornado Alley raise an important question: Can we eliminate the major tornado threat in Tornado Alley? Some people may claim that such...

What amino acids in shells can tell us about Bronze Age people

A new study by scientists at the University of York has shed new light on the use of mollusc shells as personal adornments by Bronze Age people.

Newly discovered paddle prints show how ancient sea reptiles swam

Trackways formed on an ancient seabed have shed new light on how nothosaurs, ancient marine reptiles that lived during the age of the dinosaurs, propelled themselves through water. The evidence...

Earlier Stone Age artifacts found in Northern Cape of South Africa

Excavations at an archaeological site at Kathu in the Northern Cape province of South Africa have produced tens of thousands of Earlier Stone Age artifacts, including hand axes and other tools. These discoveries were made by archaeologists from the University...

New feathered predatory fossil sheds light on dinosaur flight

This is an illustration of newly discovered feathered dinosaur, <i>Changyuraptor yangi</i>.A new raptorial dinosaur fossil with exceptionally long feathers has provided exciting insights into dinosaur flight. A paper published in Nature Communications on July 15, 2014 asserts that the fossil...

Meet the gomphothere: UA archaeologist involved in discovery of bones of elephant ancestor

Archaeologists have uncovered the first evidence that gomphotheres, an ancient ancestor of the elephant, were once hunted in North America.An animal once believed to have disappeared from North America before humans ever arrived there might actually have roamed the continent longer than previously thought -- and it was likely...

Researchers declassify dinosaurs as being the great-great-grandparents of birds

This is a skeletal reconstruction of <i>Scansoriopteryx</i> with outlines to indicate the extent of the feathers.The re-examination of a sparrow-sized fossil from China challenges the commonly held belief that birds evolved from ground-dwelling theropod dinosaurs that gained the ability to fly. The birdlike fossil is...

Ancient hedgehog and tapir once inhabited British Columbia

This is a reconstruction of the early Eocene (52 million-year-old) fauna that inhabited the rainforest around a northern British Colombia lake. The tapiroid Heptodon drinks in the shallows, while the small proto-hedgehog Silvacola acares stalks a green lacewing (<em>Pseudochrysopa harveyi</em>) in the foreground.The Earth has experienced many dramatic changes in climate since the dinosaurs went extinct 66 million years ago. One of the warmest periods was the early Eocene Epoch, 50 to...

Scientist identifies world's biggest-ever flying bird

Paleontologist Dan Ksepka examines the fossilized skull of what may be the biggest flying bird ever found. Its telltale beak allowed Ksepka to identify the find as a previously unknown species of pelagornithid, an extinct group of giant seabirds known for bony tooth-like spikes that lined their upper and lower jaws.Scientists have identified the fossilized remains of an extinct giant bird that could be the biggest flying bird ever found. With an estimated 20-24-foot wingspan, the creature surpassed size estimates...

Hair from mummy's clothes provides insights into red deer lineage

Genetic analysis of Neolithic deer hair from Italian Alps mummy's clothes ties deer population to modern day western European lineage, in contrast to the eastern lineage found in the Italian...

A new species of moth from the Appalachian Mountains named to honor the Cherokee Nation

This image shows an adult male <i>Cherokeea attakullakulla</i>, the newly discovered Cherokee moth.A small, drab and highly inconspicuous moth has been flitting nameless about its special niche among the middle elevations of one of the world's oldest mountain ranges, the southern Appalachian...

New horned dinosaur reveals unique wing-shaped headgear

Artist reconstruction of <em>Mercuriceratops gemini</em>, a new species of horned dinosaur that had wing-shaped ornamentation on the sides of its skull.Scientists have named a new species of horned dinosaur (ceratopsian) based on fossils collected from Montana in the United States and Alberta, Canada. Mercuriceratops (mer-cure-E-sare-ah-tops) gemini was approximately 6 meters...

Tiny plants ride on the coattails of migratory birds

Each year 500,000 American golden-plovers (pictured) fly between Arctic N. America and South America with potentially hundreds of thousands of diaspores trapped in their feathers.Since the days of Darwin, biologists have questioned why certain plants occur in widely separated places, the farthest reaches of North American and the Southern tip of South America but...

New paper suggests High Tibet was cradle of evolution for cold-adapted mammals

This is an artist's reconstruction of the Zanda fauna from the Pliocene about 5-2.5 million years ago. (artist: Julie Selan)For the last 2.5 million years, our planet has experienced cold and warm, millennia-long cycles that collectively have become known as the Ice Age. During cold periods, continental-scale ice sheets...

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