New study identifies Neanderthal ancestry in African populations and describes its origin

When the first Neanderthal genome was sequenced, using DNA collected from ancient bones, it was accompanied by the discovery that modern humans in Asia, Europe and America inherited approximately 2% of their DNA from Neanderthals – proving humans and Neanderthals had interbred after humans left Africa. Since that study, new methods have continued to catalogue … Read more

The ‘firewalkers’ of Karoo: Dinosaurs and other animals left tracks in a ‘land of fire’

In southern Africa, dinosaurs and synapsids, a group of animals that includes mammals and their closest fossil relatives, survived in a “land of fire” at the start of an Early Jurassic mass extinction, according to a study published January 29, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Emese M. Bordy of the University of Cape Town … Read more

Squid brains approach that of dogs

We are closer to understanding the incredible ability of squid to instantly camouflage themselves thanks to research from The University of Queensland. Dr Wen-Sung Chung and Professor Justin Marshall, from UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute, completed the first MRI-based mapping of the squid brain in 50 years to develop an atlas of neural connections. “This the … Read more

Glimpse into ancient hunting strategies of dragonflies and damselflies

A new species of prehistoric scorpion from the early Siluarian period (approximately 437.5 to 436.5 million years ago) is described in a study in Scientific Reports. The findings suggest that Parioscorpio venator is the oldest-known scorpion reported to date and may have been capable of leaving its marine habitat and venturing onto land, a behaviour similar … Read more

What keeps couples together

In mammals, pair bonds are very rare, one of the few exceptions being the red titi monkeys of South America. These relatively small tree dwellers live in pairs or small family groups and are characterized by the fact that the males take intensive care of their offspring. A team of researchers from the German Primate … Read more

Hummingbirds’ rainbow colors come from pancake-shaped structures in their feathers

Hummingbirds are some of the most brightly-colored things in the entire world. Their feathers are iridescent– light bounces off them like a soap bubble, resulting in shimmering hues that shift as you look at them from different angles. While other birds like ducks can have bright feathers, nothing seems to come close to hummingbirds, and … Read more

African grey parrots spontaneously ‘lend a wing’

People and other great apes are known for their willingness to help others in need, even strangers. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology on January 9 have shown for the first time that some birds – and specifically African grey parrots – are similarly helpful. “We found that African grey parrots voluntarily and spontaneously help familiar parrots … Read more

Early humans revealed to have engineered optimised stone tools at Olduvai Gorge

The research, published in the Journal of Royal Society Interface, shows that Palaeolithic hominins selected different raw materials for different stone tools based on how sharp, durable and efficient those materials were. They made these decisions in conjunction with information about the length of time the tools would be used for and the force with which … Read more