By gum! Scientists find new 110-million-year-old treasure

A remarkable new treasure has been found by scientists from the University of Portsmouth – the first fossil plant gum on record. The beautiful, amber-like material has been discovered in 110 million year old fossilised leaves. University of Portsmouth PhD student Emily Roberts, made the discovery while examining fossilised leaves of the Welwitschiophyllum plant, found in the … Read more By gum! Scientists find new 110-million-year-old treasure

USU herpetologist reports surprising evolutionary shift in snakes

In the animal kingdom, survival essentially boils down to eat or be eaten. How organisms accomplish the former and avoid the latter reveals a clever array of defense mechanisms. Maybe you can outrun your prey. Perhaps you sport an undetectable disguise. Or maybe you develop a death-defying resistance to your prey’s heart-stopping defensive chemicals that … Read more USU herpetologist reports surprising evolutionary shift in snakes

Fish in the Sahara? Yes, in the early Holocene

Catfish and tilapia make up many of the animal remains uncovered in the Saharan environment of the Takarkori rock shelter in southwestern Libya, according to a study published February 19, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Wim Van Neer from the the Natural History Museum in Belgium, Belgium and Savino di Lernia, Sapienza University of … Read more Fish in the Sahara? Yes, in the early Holocene

Discovery at ‘flower burial’ site could unravel mystery of Neanderthal death rites

The first articulated Neanderthal skeleton to come out of the ground for over 20 years has been unearthed at one of the most important sites of mid-20th century archaeology: Shanidar Cave, in the foothills of Iraqi Kurdistan. Researchers say the new find offers an unparalleled opportunity to investigate the “mortuary practices” of this lost species … Read more Discovery at ‘flower burial’ site could unravel mystery of Neanderthal death rites

Biodiversity scientists pull together to document how life works before it’s too late

Time is running out to predict how potential climate futures will impact biodiversity and the functioning of our biosphere. To save and predict the future of biodiversity we need to rapidly accelerate our understanding of the planet’s diverse forms of life. A new, global network of international researchers is using the power of open source … Read more Biodiversity scientists pull together to document how life works before it’s too late

Reconstructing the diet of fossil vertebrates

Information on what our ancestors ate is based mainly on carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses of the structural protein collagen in bones and dentin. Nitrogen isotope analysis, in particular, helps scientists determine whether animal or plant food was consumed. Since collagen, like proteins in general, is not easily conservable, this method cannot be used to … Read more Reconstructing the diet of fossil vertebrates

‘Ghost’ of mysterious hominin found in West African genomes

Ancestors of modern West Africans interbred with a yet-undiscovered species of archaic human, similar to how ancient Europeans mated with Neanderthals, researchers report. Their work helps inform how archaic hominins added to the genetic variation of present-day Africans, which has been poorly understood, in part because of the sparse fossil record in Africa and the … Read more ‘Ghost’ of mysterious hominin found in West African genomes

Extinct giant turtle had horned shell of up to three meters

The tropical region of South America is one of the world’s hot spots when it comes to animal diversity. The region’s extinct fauna is unique, as documented by fossils of giant rodents and crocodylians -including crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gavials – that inhabited what is today a desert area in Venezuela. Five to ten million … Read more Extinct giant turtle had horned shell of up to three meters

Hidden away: An enigmatic mammalian brain area revealed in reptiles

The state of unified perception characteristic of a conscious state in humans appears to require widespread coordination of the forebrain and thus, the existence of a physical and anatomical substrate for this coordination. The mammalian claustrum, a thin sheet of brain tissue hidden beneath the inner layers of the neocortex, is widely interconnected with the … Read more Hidden away: An enigmatic mammalian brain area revealed in reptiles

Orb-weaver spiders’ yellow and black pattern helps them lure prey

Researchers from Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and the UK placed cardboard cut-out models of the golden orb-weaver, Nephila pilipes, onto real webs in the field. Testing different combinations of colours and patterns they discovered that both the yellow colour and the black and yellow mosaic pattern are essential for luring prey during the day. The webs of Nephila … Read more Orb-weaver spiders’ yellow and black pattern helps them lure prey