Popular Science articles about Paleontology & Archaeology

This is a ring-tailed lemur (<i>Lemur catta</i>) indigenous only to Madagascar. UC's Brooke Crowley is researching lemurs' geographic mobility.

Complex genetic ancestry of Americans uncovered

By comparing the genes of current-day North and South Americans with African and European populations, an Oxford University study has found the genetic fingerprints of the slave trade and colonization...

Archeologists discover Maya 'melting pot'

This is a round structure uncovered at Ceibal, from about 500 B.C.Archaeologists working in Guatemala have unearthed new information about the Maya civilization's transition from a mobile, hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a sedentary way of life.

Crocodile ancestor was top predator before dinosaurs roamed North America

This is a life reconstruction of <i>Carnufex carolinensis</i>.A newly discovered crocodilian ancestor may have filled one of North America's top predator roles before dinosaurs arrived on the continent. Carnufex carolinensis, or the "Carolina Butcher," was a 9-foot...

17 million-year-old whale fossil provides first exact date for East Africa's puzzling uplift

A 17 million-year-old whale fossil stranded far inland in Kenya now sheds light on the timing and starting elevation of East Africa's puzzling tectonic uplift, says paleontologist Louis Jacobs, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, who rediscovered the fossil.Uplift associated with the Great Rift Valley of East Africa and the environmental changes it produced have puzzled scientists for decades because the timing and starting elevation have been poorly...

Humans adapted to living in rainforests much sooner than thought

Pictured is the site of Batadomba-lena where the oldest human teeth (c. 20,000 years old) used in the study were excavated.An international research team has shed new light on the diet of some of the earliest recorded humans in Sri Lanka. The researchers from Oxford University, working with a team...

Tiny new fossil helps rewrite crab evolution, sheds lights on late Jurassic marine world

This is a reconstruction of fossil crab larva (a) ventral aspects, (b) dorsal aspects.NHM curator co-authors paper on 150-million-year-old fossilized crab larva, found in southern Germany

Centuries-old DNA helps identify origins of slave skeletons found in Caribbean

More than 300 years ago, three African-born slaves died on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. No written records memorialized their fate, and their names and precise ethnic background remained...

Study finds significant facial variation in pre-Columbian South America

Forensic anthropologist Ann Ross is pictured in her lab at NC State University.A team of anthropology researchers has found significant differences in facial features between all seven pre-Columbian peoples they evaluated from what is now Peru -- disproving a longstanding perception that...

How were fossil tracks made by Early Triassic swimming reptiles so well preserved?

Tracy J. Thomson stands next to a block with numerous swim tracks in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.A type of vertebrate trace fossil gaining recognition in the field of paleontology is that made by various tetrapods (four-footed land-living vertebrates) as they traveled through water under buoyant or...

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

Soil was loaded onto Spanish galleons traveling from Acapulco, Mexico, to Manila, Philippines, in the 16th century. The soil, needed for ballast on empty vessels, likely also included tropical fire ants, researchers report.Thanks to a bit of genetic sleuthing, researchers now know the invasion history of the tropical fire ant (Solenopsis geminata), the first ant species known to travel the globe by...

Prehistoric super salamander was top predator, fossils suggest

This is a model of <i>Metoposaurus algarvensis</i>.A previously undiscovered species of crocodile-like amphibian that lived during the rise of dinosaurs was among Earth's top predators more than 200 million years ago, a study shows.

World's largest asteroid impacts found in central Australia

This is Dr Andrew Glikson with a sample of suevite -- a rock with partially melted material formed during an impact.A 400 kilometre-wide impact zone from a huge meteorite that broke in two moments before it slammed into the Earth has been found in Central Australia.

Prehistoric stone tools bear 500,000-year-old animal residue

This is an elephant rib bearing cutmarks associated with flint tools at the Revadim site.Some 2.5 million years ago, early humans survived on a paltry diet of plants. As the human brain expanded, however, it required more substantial nourishment -- namely fat and meat...

Beetles beat out extinction

The rich diversity seen in modern-day beetles could have more to do with extinction resistance than a high rate of new species originations.Today's rich variety of beetles may be due to an historically low extinction rate rather than a high rate of new species emerging, according to a new study. These findings...

Neandertals modified white-tailed eagle claws 130,000 years ago

An image of white-tailed eagle talons from the Krapina Neandertal site in present-day Croatia, dating to approximately 130,000 years ago, may be part of a jewelry assemblage.Krapina Neandertals may have manipulated white-tailed eagle talons to make jewelry 130,000 years ago, before the appearance of modern human in Europe, according to a study published March 11, 2015...

Fossil skull sheds new light on transition from water to land

The first 3D reconstruction of the skull of a 360 million-year-old near-ancestor of land vertebrates has been created by scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge, UK. The 3D...

Ancient fossils reveal diversity in the body structure of human ancestors

These are 1.9 million-year-old pelvis and femur bone fossils of early humans in Kenya reveal that there were more distinctive species of early humans than previously thought.Recently released research on human evolution has revealed that species of early human ancestors had significant differences in facial features. Now, a University of Missouri researcher and her international team...

Early herders' grassy route through Africa

These are cattle and donkeys at a camp in Kenya. A new University of Utah-led study found that early herders and livestock traveling from eastern Africa to southern Africa some 2,000 years ago could have passed through the Lake Victoria Basin in southwest Kenya because the area was grassy, not a bushy, tsetse fly-infested environment as previously believed.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...

When age matters

This image shows a Manot Cave cranuin. A partial human skull unearthed in 2008 in northern Israel may hold some clues as to when and where humans and Neanderthals might have interbred. The key to addressing this, as well as other important issues, is precisely determining the age of the skull. A combination of dating methods, one of them performed by Dr. Elisabetta Boaretto, head of the Weizmann Institute's D-REAMS (DANGOOR Research Accelerator Mass Spectrometry) laboratory, has made it possible to define the period of time that the cave was occupied and thus the skull's age. The combined dating provides evidence that <i>Homo sapiens</i> and <i>Homo neanderthalensis</i> could have lived side by side in the area.A partial human skull unearthed in 2008 in northern Israel may hold some clues as to when and where humans and Neanderthals might have interbred. The key to addressing this,...

How mantis shrimp evolved many shapes with same powerful punch

Mantis shrimp attack their dinners with the help of spring-loaded claws.The miniweight boxing title of the animal world belongs to the mantis shrimp, a cigar-sized crustacean whose front claws can deliver an explosive 60-mile-per-hour blow akin to a bullet leaving...

Plants survive better through mass extinctions than animals

This is Dr. Alexandre Antonelli from University of Gothenburg.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...

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