Popular Science articles about Paleontology & Archaeology

Tracy J. Thomson stands next to a block with numerous swim tracks in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.

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...

Ancient rocks show life could have flourished on Earth 3.2 billion years ago

The oldest rock samples, from 3.2 billion years ago, were collected in the desert in northwestern Australia.A spark from a lightning bolt, interstellar dust, or a subsea volcano could have triggered the very first life on Earth. But what happened next? Life can exist without oxygen,...

Distant species produce love child after 60 million year breakup

Found on a forest floor in the French Pyrenees, this shin-high fern is the offspring of two distantly related groups of plants that split into separate lineages some 60 million years ago.A delicate woodland fern discovered in the mountains of France is the love child of two distantly-related groups of plants that haven't interbred in 60 million years, genetic analyses show.

Oldest fur seal identified, ending 5-million-year 'ghost lineage'

<p>The oldest known fur seal has been discovered by a geology Ph.D. student at New Zealand's University of Otago, providing a missing link that helps to resolve a more than five-million-year gap in fur seal and sea lion evolutionary history.The oldest known fur seal has been discovered by a Geology PhD student at New Zealand's University of Otago, providing a missing link that helps to resolve a more than...

Researchers reveal how hearing evolved

The lungfish ear is a good model for the ears of the first terrestrial vertebrates. A new study shows that they are capable of detecting airborne sound despite not having a tympanic middle ear.Lungfish and salamanders can hear, despite not having an outer ear or tympanic middle ear. These early terrestrial vertebrates were probably also able to hear 300 million years ago, as...

15-million-year-old mollusk protein found

A 15-million-year-old fossil gastropod, Ecphora, from the Calvert Cliffs of southern Maryland is depicted. The golden brown color arises from the original shell-binding proteins and pigments preserved in the mineralized shell. Picture is provided courtesy of John Nance.A team of Carnegie scientists have found "beautifully preserved" 15 million-year-old thin protein sheets in fossil shells from southern Maryland. Their findings are published in the inaugural issue of Geochemical...

Scientists discover organism that hasn't evolved in more than 2 billion years

This is a section of a 1.8 billion-year-old fossil-bearing rock.An international team of scientists has discovered the greatest absence of evolution ever reported -- a type of deep-sea microorganism that appears not to have evolved over more than 2...

Anthropology: Ancient skull from Galilee cave offers clues to the first modern Europeans

This image shows inside the Manot Cave in Israel's Galilee, where a 55,000-year-old skull sheds new light on modern human migration patterns.The discovery of a 55,000-year-old partial skull in Northern Israel provides new insights into the migration of modern humans out of Africa. The rare find is reported in the journal...

Climate affects the development of human speech

This map shows the distribution of languages with complex tone (red dots) and without complex tone (blue dots) in the Phonotactics Database of the Australian National University. Darker shading on map corresponds
to lower mean specific humidity.An interesting question, one that linguists have long debated, is whether climate and geography affect language. The challenge has been to untangle the factors that cause sounds to change.

Paleontologist names 9-foot-long 'predator croc' that preceded dinosaurs

Here is a representation of paleontologist Sterling Nesbitt's latest addition to the paleontological vernacular: <i>Nundasuchus</i>, a 9-foot-long carnivorous reptile with steak knife-like teeth and bony plates on the back.Finding a new species of dinosaur is pretty rare. Getting a hand in the discovery and naming of one -- that's rarer still.

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...

An Italian cemetery may provide clues on cholera's evolution

A team of archaeologists and other researchers hope that an ancient graveyard in Italy can yield clues about the deadly bacterium that causes cholera.

Earliest-known arboreal and subterranean ancestral mammals discovered

This is an illustration of <i>Agilodocodon</i> and <i>Docofossor</i>. The skeletal features of <i>Agilodocodon</i> (top left) suggeset it was an agile and active arboreal animal. The skeletal features of <i>Docofossor</i> (bottom right) suggest it lived in burrows and fed on worms and insects.The fossils of two interrelated ancestral mammals, newly discovered in China, suggest that the wide-ranging ecological diversity of modern mammals had a precedent more than 160 million years ago.

Amber fossil links earliest grasses, dinosaurs and fungus used to produce LSD

This grass spikelet from the middle Cretaceous is about 100 million years old, preserved in amber as the earliest fossil ever found of the evolution of grass, and is covered on its tip by the parasite ergot.A perfectly preserved amber fossil from Myanmar has been found that provides evidence of the earliest grass specimen ever discovered -- about 100 million years old -- and even then...

When scientists play with LEGO: A new creative version of pinned insect manipulator

This image shows four different sized manipulators shown for comparisonScientists from the Natural History Museum London are facing the challenges of mass digitization of museum specimens by inventing a creative, functional and most importantly quite cheap way to capture...

Giant rodent used incisors like tusks

The largest rodent ever to have lived may have used its front teeth just like an elephant uses its tusks, a new study led by scientists at the University of...

Long-necked 'dragon' discovered in China

This illustration shows what the newly discovered long-necked dinosaur may have looked like.University of Alberta paleontologists including PhD student Tetsuto Miyashita, former MSc student Lida Xing and professor Philip Currie have discovered a new species of a long-necked dinosaur from a skeleton...

Early human ancestors used their hands like modern humans

New research suggests pre-Homo human ancestral species, such as Australopithecus africanus, used human-like hand postures much earlier than was previously thought.

Doubt cast on global firestorm generated by dino-killing asteroid

This is the fire propagation apparatus recreating the impact induced thermal pulse at the Cretaceous-Palaeogene (K-Pg) boundary. Halogen lamps are delivering the thermal radiation.Pioneering new research has debunked the theory that the asteroid that is thought to have led to the extinction of dinosaurs also caused vast global firestorms that ravaged planet Earth.

Fossil ankles indicate Earth's earliest primates lived in trees

Fossil ankles show that <i>Purgatorius</i>, an early primate, lived in trees.Earth's earliest primates have taken a step up in the world, now that researchers have gotten a good look at their ankles.

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