Popular Science articles about Paleontology & Archaeology

This is a left lower jaw of <i>Yunnanadapis folivorus</i>, one of six new fossil species found in southern China.

New evidence connects dung beetle evolution to dinosaurs

Dr. Nicole Gunter, invertebrate zoology collections manager at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, is with dung beetle specimens in the collection.Cleveland... Researchers have found an evolutionary connection between dinosaurs and dung beetles. An international team of scientists uncovered the first molecular evidence indicating that dung beetles evolved in association with...

Trinity scientists reveal origin of Earth's oldest crystals

Scanning electron microscope picture of a zircon crystal from the Sudbury crater.The tiny crystals probably formed in huge impact craters not long after Earth formed, some 4 billion years ago

Mammal-like reptile survived much longer than thought

Tritylodontids are the last known family of near-mammalian reptiles, before mammals with features such as advanced hearing evolved. Researchers have uncovered dozens of fossilized teeth in Kuwajima, Japan and identified this as a new species of tritylodontid. This suggests that tritylodontids co-existed with some of the earliest mammal species for millions of years.Teeth can reveal a lot, such as how the earliest mammals lived with their neighbors. Researchers have uncovered dozens of fossilized teeth in Kuwajima, Japan and identified this as a...

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Fossils may reveal 20-million-year history of penguins in Australia

Stratigraphically calibrated phylogeny of Sphenisciformes correlated with tectonic movements and changing ocean circulation in the southern hemisphere showing how: (1) the Australian taxa are dispersed across the phylogeny temporally; (2) the Australian continent becomes progressively more isolated from other southern continents; and (3) a strengthened ACC (indicated by the black arrows) provides a new dispersal vector to Australia despite the presence of a strengthening Antarctic Polar Front (APF). 

<P>The bottom palaeomaps are based on reconstructions in Lawver & Gahagan [9]. Penguin silhouettes show overall trend for decreasing body size in penguin evolution: Top, archaic giant stem penguin taxa; middle medium-sized stem penguin taxa; bottom, smaller crown penguin taxa (silhouette credit: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos (original photo), John E. McCormack, Michael G. Harvey, Brant C. Faircloth, Nicholas G. Crawford, Travis C. Glenn, Robb T. Brumfield & T. Michael Keesey, used under a CC BY 3.0 Attribution Unported Licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/))). 
<P>
Palaeoceanographic reconstructions after [9,72-74]. Palaeoceanographic abbreviations: EAC = East Australian Current, pEAC = palaeo-East Australian Current, pRG = palaeo-Ross Sea Gyre/Tasman Current, RG = Ross Sea Gyre. The relative strength of the ACC and APF is shown by thickening arrows and lines though time. Black arrow = cold currents, red arrows = warm currents.Multiple dispersals of penguins reached Australia after the continent split from Antarctica, including 'giant penguins' that may have lived there after they went extinct elsewhere, according to a study published...

Leg-wing cooperation in baby birds, dinosaurs is key transition in origin of flight

X-ray studies reveal that baby birds flap their tiny wings to help them climb steep slopes. The force generated by flapping pushes them forward as well as upward, improving traction as they climb. Non-bird dinosaurs might have done the same thing with their 'mini-wings' before flight evolved.New research based on high-resolution x-ray movies reveals that despite having extremely underdeveloped muscles and wings, young birds acquire a mature flight stroke early in their development, initially relying heavily...

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Paleontologists find North America's oldest monkey fossil along Panama Canal

A student digs for fossils in the rock exposed by expansion of the Panama Canal. This is where paleontologists found North America's oldest monkey fossil.It was late in the year, but Panama was still muggy and rain clouds were closing in. A field crew of student-paleontologists wasn't having much luck, but Aaron Wood kept...

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Dinosaurs 'already in decline' before asteroid apocalypse

Dinosaurs were already in an evolutionary decline tens of millions of years before the meteorite impact that finally finished them off, new research has found.

Neanderthals may have been infected by diseases carried out of Africa by humans

Dr Charlotte Houldcroft is in the laboratory at Biological Anthropology in Cambridge.A new study suggests that Neanderthals across Europe may well have been infected with diseases carried out of Africa by waves of anatomically modern humans, or Homo sapiens. As both...

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Fossil discovery suggests size poor predictor of maturity in ancient reptiles

In this artist's rendering of the <i>Asilisaurus kongwe</i>, the animal is shown as it would walk and move about. The stripes are artistic license, although the animal's 'proto-feathers' are likely. 'We have good reason to think they probably had some sort of simple feather-like structures ... but we haven't found evidence of this yet," said Christopher Griffin, a geoscience graduate student at Virginia Tech.Paleontologists at Virginia Tech have found that muscle-scarred fossil leg bones of one of the closest cousins of dinosaurs that lived approximately 240 million years ago can shine new light...

Queen's University microbiologists unmask the Hannibal route enigma

Hannibal crosses the Alps on an elephant.Microbiologists based in the Institute for Global Food Security and School of Biological Sciences at Queen's University Belfast have recently released results that may have answered one of ancient history's...

Sea star juveniles abundant, but recovery is anything but guaranteed

The leg of this purple ochre sea star in Oregon is disintegrating, as it dies from sea star wasting syndrome.An unprecedented number of juvenile sea stars have been observed off the Oregon coast over the past several months - just two years after one of the most severe marine...

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Endangered venomous mammal predates dinosaurs' extinction, study confirms

ZooDom veterinarian Adrell Nunez (center) draws blood from a solenodon for DNA samples. Researchers caught the venomous mammal by allowing it to walk across their bodies at night in the forests of the Dominican Republic. Pictured from left to right: Nicolas De J. Corona, Adrell Nunez, Taras K. Oleksyk, and Yimell Corona.The University of Illinois and University of Puerto Rico have completely sequenced the mitochondrial genome for the Hispaniolan solenodon, filling in the last major branch of placental mammals on the...

Hominins may have been food for carnivores 500,000 years ago

Tooth-marks on a 500,000-year-old hominin femur bone found in a Moroccan cave indicate that it was consumed by large carnivores, likely hyenas, according to a study published April 27, 2016 in the open-access journal <i>PLOS ONE</i>.Tooth-marks on a 500,000-year-old hominin femur bone found in a Moroccan cave indicate that it was consumed by large carnivores, likely hyenas, according to a study published April 27, 2016...

Newly discovered titanosaurian dinosaur from Argentina, Sarmientosaurus

Sarmientosaurus head posture, brain & eye (WitmerLab): Digital renderings of the skull and reconstructed brain endocast and eye of the new titanosaurian dinosaur species <i>Sarmientosaurus musacchioi</i>. At left is the skull rendered semi-transparent in left side view, showing the relative size and position of the brain endocast (in blue, pink, yellow, and red) and the inferred habitual head posture. At center is the isolated brain endocast in left side view, and at right is a left/front view of the skull showing the reconstructed eyeball and its associated musculature. Scale bar equals five centimeters.Scientists have discovered Sarmientosaurus musacchioi, a new species of titanosaurian dinosaur, based on an complete skull and partial neck fossil unearthed in Patagonia, Argentina, according to a study published April...

Study shows dinosaur families chose to exit Europe

Researchers have used 'network theory' for the first time to visually depict the movement of dinosaurs around the world during the Mesozoic Era - including a curious exodus from Europe.

DNA proves mammoths mated beyond species boundaries

This DNA-based study sheds new light on the complex evolutionary history of the woolly mammoth, suggesting it mated with a completely different and much larger species.Several species of mammoth are thought to have roamed across the North American continent. A new study in the open-access journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, provides DNA...

Discovery of 13-million-year-old croc suggests parallel evolution of 'telescoping' eyes

Members of the international expedition team are collecting a <i>Gryposuchus pachakamue</i> mandible along the banks of the Amazon River. The lead author of the study, Rodolfo-Salas Gismondi, is on the right.Fossils of a 13-million-year-old extinct crocodilian from the Peruvian Amazon suggest that South American and Indian species evolved separately to acquire protruding, "telescoped" eyes that helped the animals conceal their...

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The pyrophilic primate

This image shows anthropogenic burning in Hadza country.Fire, a tool broadly used for cooking, constructing, hunting and even communicating, was arguably one of the earliest discoveries in human history. But when, how and why it came to...

New models predicting where to find fossils

An international team of scientists have developed a way to help locate fossils of long-extinct animals.

Therapsids adapted to drastic climate change by having shorter life expectancies

Ecological simulations show that by breeding younger, <em>Lystrosaurus</em> could have increased its chance of survival by 40%.Two hundred and fifty-two million years ago, a series of Siberian volcanoes erupted and sent the Earth into the greatest mass extinction of all time. Billions of tons of carbon...

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Chasing after a prehistoric Kite Runner

<em>Aquilonifer spinosus</em>, the Kite Runner, was an arthropod that lived about 430 million years ago. It carried its young in capsules or pouches tethered to its body.Scientists have discovered an ancient animal that carried its young in capsules tethered to the parent's body like tiny, swirling kites. They're naming it after "The Kite Runner," the 2003...

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