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paleo

Earliest art found in South Africa

Blombos Cave, located along the South African coast about 300 kilometers east of Cape Town, has been excavated since 1991, revealing materials left by Homo sapiens between 100,000 and 70,000 years ago. 

14 Jan 2019

Early mammal reproduced like a reptile

A mother found fossilized alongside 38 of her young is offering a rare glimpse into early mammalian reproductive strategies. Unearthed in northeastern Arizona, the 184-million-year-old fossils are from specimens of Kayentatherium wellesi, an early mammal-like tritylodont that falls between reptiles and true mammals on the evolutionary tree.

09 Jan 2019

Two new species fill gap in dinosaur family tree

Cretaceous rocks in northwestern China have yielded two new dinosaur species that help fill a 70-million-year gap in dinosaur phylogeny. The new species — Xiyunykus pengi and Bannykus wulatensis — are both alvarezsaurians, an odd group of dinosaurs that, by the Late Cretaceous, had evolved many avian characteristics such as birdlike skulls, tiny teeth and light, slender bodies, as well as unique mole-like single-clawed forearms that were likely useful for digging.

17 Dec 2018

Climate cooling a driver of Neanderthals' extinction

Neanderthals disappeared from Europe roughly 40,000 years ago, and scientists are still trying to figure out why. Did disease, climate change or competition with modern humans — or maybe a combination of all three — do them in? In a recent study, researchers offer new evidence from Eastern Europe that climate change was a major player in the Neanderthals’ disappearance.

30 Nov 2018

Spiky new American ankylosaurid originated in Asia

A new genus and species of ankylosaurid discovered in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah reveal new information about the spread of armored dinosaurs into North America. Most North American ankylosaurids are known for their smooth skulls, but the new specimen more closely resembles spiky-skulled Asian ankylosaurids.

28 Nov 2018

Marine animals have been migrating for millions of years

Scientists have suspected that ancient animals migrated in response to changing global temperatures, but until now, there was no documentation of this across extensive time periods. In a new study, researchers found that, for millions of years, marine organisms like corals, sponges and snails, have shifted their ranges in response to climate change.

20 Nov 2018

Extinct gibbon found in Chinese tomb

About 2,200 years ago, a Chinese noblewoman was buried in a tomb with a menagerie of animals, including 12 horses, a leopard, a lynx and a species of gibbon unknown to modern science. The new ape, identified using detailed cranial and dental measurements as a new genus and species — Junzi imperialis — may represent the first ape to have gone extinct due to human influence after the last ice age.

26 Oct 2018

First Antarctic tetrapods

Tetrapods include all those animals with four limbs. Humans are tetrapods, as are dogs and dinosaurs and salamanders. The earliest tetrapods evolved on land from fish with bony fins during the Devonian Period between about 420 million and 359 million years ago. Until now, fossils of the earliest four-legged forms were only known from equatorial regions, but paleontologists working in South Africa now report the discovery of fossil tetrapods that lived in the Late Devonian Antarctic.

18 Oct 2018

Earth's first footprints

As far as we know, life originated on Earth about 3.5 billion years ago, and for roughly the first 3 billion years of that history all life was microscopic. Then, during the Ediacaran Period from 635 million to 541 million years ago, the first organisms visible to the naked eye emerged. Although many members of this group, called the Ediacara biota, would have looked alien to us, some nonetheless had features we might find familiar. And according to a new study, it was Ediacaran creatures that left behind Earth’s oldest-known footprints.

05 Oct 2018

An asteroid redirected bird evolution

When an asteroid hit Earth 66 million years ago, it helped wipe out all the dinosaur lineages save one: the birds. But birds didn’t completely dodge the cataclysm the asteroid triggered. Recent research suggests that forests around the planet were devastated. With forests gone, bird species that called trees home went extinct alongside their nonavian dinosaur cousins. This means that the birds that we see living in trees today evolved from lineages that, in the aftermath of the impact, were ground-dwelling.

30 Aug 2018

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