Shaking up the sloth family tree

New studies by two research teams published today in the journals Nature Ecology and Evolution and Current Biologychallenge decades of accepted scientific opinion concerning the evolutionary relationships of tree sloths and their extinct kin. The research teams used different molecular tools–the protein collagen in one case and the mitochondrial genome in the other–but they reached nearly the same … Read more Shaking up the sloth family tree

Oldest flaked stone tools point to the repeated invention of stone tools

Analysis by the researchers of early stone age sites, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that stone tools may have been invented many times in many ways before becoming an essential part of the human lineage. The excavation site, known as Bokol Dora 1 or BD 1, is close … Read more Oldest flaked stone tools point to the repeated invention of stone tools

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

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