Popular Science articles about Paleontology & Archaeology

A definitive geological timeline from Princeton University researchers shows that a series of massive eruptions 66 million years ago in a primeval volcanic range in western India known as the Deccan Traps played a role in the extinction event that claimed Earth's non-avian dinosaurs, and challenges the dominant theory that a meteorite impact was the sole cause of the extinction. Pictured above are the Deccan Traps near Mahabaleshwar, India.

Asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs may have nearly knocked off mammals, too

This diagram is showing how severely metatherian mammals were affected when an asteroid hit Earth at the end of the Cretaceous, 66 million years ago.  In North America, the number of metatherian species dropped from twenty species within the last million years of the Cretaceous Period, to just three species in the first million years of the Paleogene Period.The extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago is thought to have paved the way for mammals to dominate, but a new study shows that many mammals died off...

Dental plaque reveals key plant in prehistoric Easter Island diet

A University of Otago, New Zealand, PhD student analysing dental calculus (hardened plaque) from ancient teeth is helping resolve the question of what plant foods Easter Islanders relied on before...

Oil-dwelling bacteria are social creatures in Earth's deep biosphere, new study shows

Oil reservoirs are scattered deep inside Earth like far-flung islands in the ocean, so their inhabitants might be expected to be very different, but a new study led by Dartmouth...

Chickens and turkeys 'closer to dinosaur ancestors' than other birds

New research from the University of Kent suggests that chickens and turkeys have experienced fewer gross genomic changes than other birds as they evolved from their dinosaur ancestor.

Ancient creature discovered in the depths of the Arctic Ocean

This is the US Coast Guard Cutter Healy in the Beaufort Sea.In the depths of the Arctic Ocean, buried deep in the sediment, an ancient creature waited for over a million years to be discovered. Paul Valentich-Scott, from the Santa Barbara...

King Richard III -- case closed after 529 years

Pictured here are Dr. Turi King and Professor Kevin Schürer from the University of Leicester.International research led by the University of Leicester published in Nature Communications reveals: Analysis of all the available evidence confirms identity of King Richard III to the...

Turn back the molecular clock, say Argentina's plant fossils

This is a hoop pine (<i>Araucaria cunninghamii</i>) on the Atherton Tablelands, Australia. Close relatives of this conifer tree inhabited Patagonia 52 million years ago, although molecular dates suggested the group is less than half that age.Molecular clocks -- based on changes in genetic material -- indicate much younger ages for a wide variety of plants found as fossils in southern Argentina than do the solid,...

Darwin 2.0

Macaws flying over the rainforest canopy at dawn. The study found that bird lineages that inhabit the forest canopy, such as these macaws, accumulate fewer species over evolutionary time than do bird lineages that inhabit the forest understory.Birds that are related, such as Darwin's finches, but that vary in beak size and behavior specially evolved to their habitat are examples of a process called speciation. It has...

Fossils cast doubt on climate-change projections on habitats

Edward Davis, professor of geological sciences at the University of Oregon, says that the fossil record of five mammalian species shows that they didn't live where modeling suggested they should have for surviving the last ice age.Leave it to long-dead short-tailed shrew and flying squirrels to outfox climate-modelers trying to predict future habitats.

A/C came standard on armored dinosaur models

Sweating, panting, moving to the shade, or taking a dip are all time-honored methods used by animals to cool down. The implicit goal of these adaptations is always to keep...

Short-necked Triassic marine reptile discovered in China

This is the holotype of <i>Eohupehsuchus brevicollis</i>, WGSC V26003.A new species of short-necked marine reptile from the Triassic period has been discovered in China, according to a study published December 17, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE...

Reshaping the horse through millennia

A man catches a domestic Mongolian horse with a lasso in Khomiin Tal, Mongolia.Whole genome sequencing of modern and ancient horses unveils the genes that have been selected by humans in the process of domestication through the latest 5.500 years, but also reveals...

Evidence of Viking/Norse metalworking in Arctic Canada

A small stone container found by archaeologists a half-century ago has now been recognized as further evidence of a Viking or Medieval Norse presence in Arctic Canada during the centuries...

Tooth loss in birds occurred about 116 million years ago

The absence of teeth or "edentulism" has evolved on multiple occasions within vertebrates including birds, turtles, and a few groups of mammals such as anteaters, baleen whales and pangolins. Where...

Oldest horned dinosaur species in North America found in Montana

This is a fossil skull of <i>Aquilops americanus</i>.Scientists have named the first definite horned dinosaur species from the Early Cretaceous in North America, according to a study published December 10, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE...

Dirt provides new insight into Roman burials

The first scientific evidence of frankincense being used in Roman burial rites in Britain has been uncovered by a team of archaeological scientists led by the University of Bradford. The...

New techniques for estimating Atlantic bluefin tuna reproduction

Atlantic bluefin tuna mature at a considerably younger age than cuurently assumed, say researchers led by fisheries oceanographer Molly Lutcavage at UMass Amherst, with Gilad Heinisch of Israel. Findings could lead to changes in how fisheries scientists estimate the population.Using a new approach for determining the age at sexual maturity for wild stocks of western Atlantic bluefin tuna, researchers led by Molly Lutcavage of the University of Massachusetts Amherst...

Mass extinction led to many new species of bony fish

Cartilaginous fishes were very diverse during the Permian period. However, after severe losses among cartilaginous fishes during the Middle Permian extinction, bony fishes experienced a massive diversification in the subsequent Trias period.Today, ray-finned fish, which belong to the bony fish, are by far the most biodiverse fish group in both salt- and freshwater. Their spectacular variety of forms ranges from eels,...

Ancient New Zealand 'Dawn Whale' identified by Otago researchers

University of Otago researchers have described a new genus of ancient baleen whales that they have named <i>Tohoraata</i> (a M&#257;ori term which can be translated as Dawn Whale). The genus belongs to the toothless filter-feeding family Eomysticetidae, and it is the first time members of this family have been identified in the Southern Hemisphere.
They named the younger of the two fossil whales, which may be a descendent of the elder, as <i>Tohoraata raekohao</i> (pictured). <i>Raekohao</i> means 'holes in the forehead.' 
Researcher Robert Boessenecker says this whale lived between 26-25 million years ago and vaguely resembles a minke whale but was more slender and serpent-like. Its skull, which contains a number of holes near its eye sockets for arteries, was probably about 2 meters in length and the whole animal would have been 8 meters long.University of Otago palaeontologists are rewriting the history of New Zealand's ancient whales by describing a previously unknown genus of fossil baleen whales and two species within it.

Archaeologists discover remains of Ice Age infants in Alaska

University of Alaska Fairbanks professors Ben Potter and Josh Reuther excavate the burial pit at the Upward Sun River site.The remains of two Ice Age infants, buried more than 11,000 years ago at a site in Alaska, represent the youngest human remains ever found in northern North America, according...

Scientific collaborative publishes landmark study on the evolution of insects

Dr. Michelle Trautwein, Assistant Curator of Dipterology at the California Academy of Sciences, added fly expertise to a first-ever evolutionary roadmap of insects. Study results suggest insects first developed wings before any other animal, over 400 million years ago.An international team of more than 100 researchers--including Dr. Michelle Trautwein of the California Academy of Sciences--has published the first modern roadmap of insect evolution. Understanding how insects are related...

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