Popular Science articles about Paleontology & Archaeology

<em>Dimetrodon</em> is shown with an overlay of the "<em>Bathygnathus</em>" fossil from PEI, with a Walchia tree in the background (a common fossil found on PEI).

Ancient brains turn paleontology on its head

This image shows a <em>Fuxianhuia protensa</em> specimen from the Chenjiang fossil beds in southwest China. The ancient arthropod was 12 centimeters (just under 5 inches) in length.Science has long dictated that brains don't fossilize, so when Nicholas Strausfeld co-authored the first ever report of a fossilized brain in a 2012 edition of Nature, it was met...

New test for ancient DNA authenticity throws doubt on Stone Age wheat trade

A DNA sample thought to show prehistoric trade in cereals is most likely from modern wheat, according to new research led by the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology.

Ancient babies boost Bering land bridge layover

This is the Upward Sun River archaeological site in Alaska.University of Utah scientists deciphered maternal genetic material from two babies buried together at an Alaskan campsite 11,500 years ago. They found the infants had different mothers and were the...

Dead men punching

These photos of a living person's hands punching or slapping a padded dumbbell weight show the positions of cadaver arms and hands in a University of Utah study that found new support for a controversial theory that human hand proportions evolved not just for fine manipulation, but also to make a clenched fist that would buttress the hand to reduce the chance of injury or fracture during male fistfights over females. Open-fist punches and open-handed slaps placed more strain on hand bones, increasing the risk of injury during fights.University of Utah biologists used cadaver arms to punch and slap padded dumbbells in experiments supporting a hotly debated theory that our hands evolved not only for manual dexterity, but...

Scientists find link between comet and asteroid showers and mass extinctions

Mass extinctions occurring over the past 260 million years were likely caused by comet and asteroid showers, scientists conclude in a new study published in Monthly Notices of the Royal...

Fossils reveal humans were greater threat than climate change to Caribbean wildlife

Fossils in a flooded cave reveal the impact of human activities on biodiversity. A recent National Science Foundation grant will allow University of Florida researchers to excavate in more caves, including this one on Crooked Island in the Bahamas.Nearly 100 fossil species pulled from a flooded cave in the Bahamas reveal a true story of persistence against all odds -- at least until the time humans stepped foot...

Developing Saurolophus dino found at 'Dragon's Tomb'

Perinatal specimens of <em>Saurolophus angustirostris</em> (MPC-D100/764). Bones on the right side of the block show a certain degree of articulation, whereas bones on the left are disarticulated.Scientists describe a perinatal group of Saurolophus angustirostris, a giant hadrosaur dinosaur, all likely from the same nest, found at "Dragon's Tomb" in Mongolia, according to a study published October...

Feasts and food choices: The culinary habits of the Stonehenge builders

A team of archaeologists at the University of York have revealed new insights into cuisine choices and eating habits at Durrington Walls - a Late Neolithic monument and settlement site...

48-million-year-old horse-like fetus discovered in Germany

Skeleton of a mare of <em>Eurohippus messelensis</em> is shown with fetus (white ellipse). The specimen was discovered and excavated by a team of the Senckenberg Research Institute Frankfurt at the Grube Messel (Germany; inv. no. SMF-ME-11034), shoulder height ca. 30 cm, scale = 10 cm.A 48 million year-old horse-like equoid fetus has been discovered at the Messel pit near Frankfurt, Germany according to a study published October 7, 2015 in the open-access journal PLOS...

Researchers discover clues on how giraffe neck evolved

The third cervical vertebra of the modern giraffe. This species underwent both stages of elongation, which are responsible for its extremely long neck.Scientists have long theorized that the long neck of modern-day giraffes evolved to enable them to find more vegetation or to develop a specialized method of fighting.

Ancient mass extinction led to dominance of tiny fish, Penn paleontologist shows

After the Hangenberg mass extinction, small fish dominated the oceans while larger fish mostly died out.When times are good, it pays to be the big fish in the sea; in the aftermath of disaster, however, smaller is better.

The largest to have existed - giant rat fossils

Dr. Julien Louys holds the jaw bone of a giant rat species discovered on East Timor, up against a comparison with the same bone of a modern ratArchaeologists with The Australian National University (ANU) have discovered fossils of seven giant rat species on East Timor, with the largest up to 10 times the size of modern rats.

It's a Tyrannosaur-eat-Tyrannosaur world

This is a recently unearthed tyrannosaur bone with peculiar teeth marks that strongly suggest it was gnawed by another tyrannosaur.A nasty little 66-million-year-old family secret has been leaked by a recently unearthed tyrannosaur bone. The bone has peculiar teeth marks that strongly suggest it was gnawed by another tyrannosaur....

Plague infected humans much earlier than previously thought

This photos shows the the Sope I grave.Plague infections were common in humans 3,300 years earlier than the historical record suggests, reports a study published October 22 in Cell. By sequencing the DNA of tooth samples from...

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76-million-year-old extinct species of pig-snouted turtle unearthed in Utah

This is an artist's depiction of the turtle <em>Arvinachelys goldeni</em> as it would have appeared in life 76 milion years ago in southern Utah.In the 250-million-year evolutionary history of turtles, scientists have seen nothing like the pig nose of a new species of extinct turtle discovered in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by a...

Life on Earth likely started 4.1 billion years ago -- much earlier than scientists thought

This is Mark Harrison at UCLA.UCLA geochemists have found evidence that life likely existed on Earth at least 4.1 billion years ago -- 300 million years earlier than previous research suggested. The discovery indicates that...

125-million-year-old mammal fossil reveals the early evolution of hair and spines

This is a reconstruction of the prehistoric mammal <i>Spinolestes</i> in the Cretaceous-period Las Hoyas wetland.The discovery of a new 125-million-year-old fossil mammal in Spain has pushed back the earliest record of preserved mammalian hair structures and inner organs by more than 60 million years.

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Taking dinosaur temperatures with eggshells

John Eiler works with a coiled trap on a glass vacuum line which is immersed in liquid nitrogen, one step in the cryogenic purification of gases used to standardize sample analyses.Researchers know dinosaurs once ruled the earth, but they know very little about how these animals performed the basic task of balancing their energy intake and output--how their metabolisms worked....

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Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

This is the entrance to the Mota cave in the Ethiopian highlands, where the remains containing the ancient genome were found.The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to...

125-million-year-old wing sheds new light on the evolution of flight

Some of the most ancient birds were capable of performing aerodynamic feats in a manner similar to many living birds, according to a new study of the fossil wing of...

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New human ancestor's feet resemble our own, Dartmouth scientist finds

Jeremy DeSilva, an associate professor of anthropology at Dartmouth College, co-led the analysis of the feet of <i>Homo naledi</i>, the latest addition to the human ancestral lineage.As a specialist in fossil feet, Dartmouth anthropologist Jeremy DeSilva has scrutinized Homo naledi, the latest addition to the human ancestral lineage, which was announced Sept. 10.

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