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paleo

How to hide a dinosaur

Analysis of a finely preserved fossil dinosaur from China has revealed the animal’s erstwhile camouflage. It appears that the meter-high Early Cretaceous ceratopsid Psittacosaurus was light-colored on its underside and dark on top, a pattern known as countershading that may hint that the small herbivore lived in a dense forest environment.

 
11 Jan 2017

The first Americans: How and when were the Americas populated?

The latest research suggests humans first came to the Americas by boat, though along which coast remains controversial. Archaeologists and geologists are working together to try to solve the mystery of how and when the first Americans arrived. 

 

01 Jan 2017

Underwater archaeology

As the ice sheets melted at the end of the last ice age, sea level rose dramatically, drowning much of the paleo coastline of North and South America under meters of water. To find evidence old enough to be associated with the initial colonizers, archaeologists have to get wet, even donning scuba gear to search for human relics along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Such work is highly technical and expensive, but a small handful of divers trained in underwater archaeological excavation techniques insist that it’s worth the trouble. 

01 Jan 2017

Earliest evidence of humans in the Americas

Map showing the earliest evidence of humans in the Americas. 

01 Jan 2017

Tiniest pterosaur found in British Columbia

Pterosaurs have a gargantuan reputation: Most fossils of the flying reptiles have wingspans similar to a small plane. But the recent discovery of fragmentary fossils from an eagle-sized specimen in British Columbia shows that not all pterosaurs were huge.

19 Dec 2016

Extinct tiger had unique elbow, hunting style

During the Pleistocene, the marsupial lion, Thylacoleo carnifex, was one of Australia’s top predators. Fossil records indicate the jaguar-sized cat died out between 20,000 and 10,000 years ago (although rumors persist the “Queensland Tiger” may still survive in isolated habitats). In a new study examining Thylacoleo fossils, researchers have now found an elbow joint unique among living predatory mammals.

16 Dec 2016

Improved genetic simulations identify human genes passed down from Neanderthals, Denisovans

You could have your mother to blame for a predisposition to baldness, but you might need to thank a Neanderthal for your ability to fight off disease. In the past decade, researchers have identified a number of genes in the human genome that they believe originated in Homo sapiens’ close evolutionary kin, Neanderthals and Denisovans. Now, a study published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution has identified additional traces of such archaic genes in modern human DNA. 

07 Dec 2016

Tiny bones pull India into the story of early primate evolution

Bones of an ancient rat-sized, tree-dwelling primate have recently been discovered in a coal mine in Gujarat, India, and may represent the most primitive known remnants of the divergence between the two great primate clades.

07 Dec 2016

Benchmarks: December 6, 1916: Dinosaur fossils lost at sea in World War I

One hundred years ago this month, a Canadian cargo ship — the SS Mount Temple — departed the port of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River headed for France. On board were 3,000 tons of wheat, more than 700 horses bound for service in World War I, and an unknown number of 75-million-year-old dinosaur skeletons and bones destined for the British Museum of Natural History. But the ship, and the fossils, never made it.

06 Dec 2016

New species of extinct dolphin found in Smithsonian archives

Freshwater river dolphins are one of the most compelling — and endangered — branches of the cetacean family tree. Now the discovery of a new species of extinct river dolphin found in the fossil archives of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is shedding light on the dolphin family tree, as well as the origins of the highly endangered South Asian river dolphin.

01 Dec 2016

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