Taxonomy term

lucas joel

Closing a gap in the tetrapod fossil record

The story of how fish evolved into four-legged land animals called tetrapods has long been left incomplete by a 15-million-year gap in the fossil record, known as Romer’s Gap, which stretches from the end of the Devonian Period into the Carboniferous. Whether the gap is due to the actual absence of tetrapod fossils from this interval, or whether such fossils exist but have not been found yet has long remained unclear. A new study, however, shows tetrapod fossils from the base of the gap, adding to a growing list of discoveries that appear to be closing the gap.
 
07 Sep 2015

Sun shapes Titan's atmospheric makeup

Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, has a thick atmosphere composed of 98 percent nitrogen and about 1.4 percent methane, as well as small amounts of other gases. In a new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, astronomers have identified fluctuations in methane levels in Titan’s thermosphere that appear to be in tune with the 11-year solar cycle.
 
07 Sep 2015

Snake forebear had two back legs but no front legs

The more than 3,400 species of snakes alive today may have descended from one ancestor that lacked forelimbs, but which had small vestigial hind limbs complete with ankle bones and toes, according to a new study published in BMC Evolutionary Biology.
 
30 Aug 2015

Ocean 'sneezes' spread algae-infecting virus

Microscopic phytoplankton, or microalgae, permeate ocean surfaces, sometimes forming huge blooms visible from space. Nutrient concentrations in seawater are known to regulate such blooms, which play a major role in oceanic food chains and carbon cycling, and occasionally prove harmful to other marine life as well as humans. Less understood are the other factors that influence a bloom’s onset and demise. New research sheds light on one such influence, demonstrating that an algae-infecting virus can become airborne and travel long distances, potentially infecting and eradicating parts of a bloom hundreds of kilometers away.
 
27 Aug 2015

Ancient marine reptiles born alive and ready to hunt

Mosasaurs, giant marine reptiles found in all the world’s oceans during the Late Cretaceous, may have reached up to 18 meters in length, and they were fearsome predators. Little is known, however, about newborn, or neonate, mosasaurs because very few have been found. Now, new research describing a rare fossil find from Kansas reveals that mosasaurs likely gave birth to live young that were born swimming and able to survive alongside the adults.
 
23 Aug 2015

Counting 'tree' rings in fish skulls provides climate clues

Most fish have little structures in their skulls that record growth patterns — periods of feast and famine — just like tree rings. Now, scientists are using these structures, called otoliths, to show how fish size may decrease as a result of a changing ocean. 

16 Jun 2015

Bringing dinosaur biology into the 21st century

We may know a lot about dinosaurs, but there’s an awful lot we don’t know yet, especially about their biology. How heavy were the dinosaurs? Were they fast or slow? Recent research poses new answers to these long-standing questions.

06 Jul 2012

No pre-Columbian deforestation of the western Amazon

Relying primarily on clues in soil cores, a research team has unearthed evidence that pre-Columbian western Amazonian people did not significantly disturb or alter interfluvial forests, contrary to previous suggestions.

18 Jun 2012

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