Ancient DNA tells the story of the first herders and farmers in east Africa

A collaborative study led by archaeologists, geneticists and museum curators is providing answers to previously unsolved questions about life in sub-Saharan Africa thousands of years ago. The results were published online in the journal Science Thursday, May 30. Researchers from North American, European and African institutions analyzed ancient DNA from 41 human skeletons curated in the National … Read more Ancient DNA tells the story of the first herders and farmers in east Africa

Humans used northern migration routes to reach eastern Asia

Northern and Central Asia have been neglected in studies of early human migration, with deserts and mountains being considered uncompromising barriers. However, a new study by an international team argues that humans may have moved through these extreme settings in the past under wetter conditions. We must now reconsider where we look for the earliest … Read more Humans used northern migration routes to reach eastern Asia

Declining fertility rates may explain Neanderthal extinction, suggests new model

A new hypothesis for Neanderthal extinction supported by population modelling is put forward in a new study by Anna Degioanni from Aix Marseille Université, France and colleagues, published May 29, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. The lack of empirical data allowing testing of hypotheses is one of the biggest challenges for researchers studying Neanderthal … Read more Declining fertility rates may explain Neanderthal extinction, suggests new model

Exploring the origins of the apple

Recent archaeological finds of ancient preserved apple seeds across Europe and West Asia combined with historical, paleontological, and recently published genetic data are presenting a fascinating new narrative for one of our most familiar fruits. In this study, Robert Spengler of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History traces the history of … Read more Exploring the origins of the apple

Fossils: The first fungus among us?

Abundant fossil fungi dating to between 1,000 and 900 million years ago, preserved in shales from Arctic Canada, are described in a paper published this week in Nature. Previous research dated the first unambiguous fossil records of fungi to before 400 million years ago. However, these new findings push back the record into mid-Proterozoic era. Fungi … Read more Fossils: The first fungus among us?

In a first, researchers identify reddish coloring in an ancient fossil

Researchers have for the first time detected chemical traces of red pigment in an ancient fossil – an exceptionally well-preserved mouse, not unlike today’s field mice, that roamed the fields of what is now the German village of Willershausen around 3 million years ago. The study revealed that the extinct creature, affectionately nicknamed “mighty mouse” … Read more In a first, researchers identify reddish coloring in an ancient fossil

Coastal organisms trapped in 99-million-year-old amber

Most amber inclusions are organisms that lived in the forest. It is very rare to find sea life trapped in amber. However, an international research group led by Prof. WANG Bo from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS) reported the first known ammonite trapped in amber in … Read more Coastal organisms trapped in 99-million-year-old amber

New Jurassic non-avian theropod dinosaur sheds light on origin of flight in Dinosauria

A new Jurassic non-avian theropod dinosaur from 163 million-year-old fossil deposits in northeastern China provides new information regarding the incredible richness of evolutionary experimentation that characterized the origin of flight in the Dinosauria. Drs. Wang Min, Jingmai K. O’Connor, Xu Xing, and Zhou Zhonghe from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the … Read more New Jurassic non-avian theropod dinosaur sheds light on origin of flight in Dinosauria

Oxygen linked with the boom and bust of early animal evolution

The Cambrian explosion was a crucial period of rapid evolution in complex animals that began roughly 540 million years ago. The trigger for this fundamental phase in the early history of animal life is a subject of ongoing biological debate. The study, published today in Nature Geoscience by scientists from the UK, China and Russia, … Read more Oxygen linked with the boom and bust of early animal evolution

New 3-foot-tall relative of Tyrannosaurus rex

A new relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex – much smaller than the huge, ferocious dinonsaur made famous in countless books and films, including, yes, “Jurassic Park” – has been discovered and named by a Virginia Tech paleontologist and an international team of scientists. The newly named tyrannosauroid dinosaur – Suskityrannus hazelae – stood rougly 3 feet tall at the … Read more New 3-foot-tall relative of Tyrannosaurus rex