Global warming and extinction risk

How can fossils predict the consequences of climate change? A German research team from Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), the Museum of Natural History Berlin and the Alfred Wegener Institute compared data from fossil and marine organisms living today to predict which groups of animals are most at risk from climate change. They published their results … Read more

9,900-year-old Mexican female skeleton distinct from other early American settlers

A new skeleton discovered in the submerged caves at Tulum sheds new light on the earliest settlers of Mexico, according to a study published February 5, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Wolfgang Stinnesbeck from Universität Heidelberg, Germany. Humans have been living in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula since at least the Late Pleistocene (126,000-11,700 years ago). … 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

Early North Americans may have been more diverse than previously suspected

Ancient skulls from the cave systems at Tulum, Mexico suggest that the earliest populations of North America may have already had a high level of morphological diversity, according to a study published January 29, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Mark Hubbe from Ohio State University, USA, Alejandro Terrazas Mata from Universidad Nacional … Read more

Climate (not humans) shaped early forests of New England

A new study in the journal Nature Sustainability overturns long-held interpretations of the role humans played in shaping the American landscape before European colonization. The findings give new insight into the rationale and approaches for managing some of the most biodiverse landscapes in the eastern U.S. The study, led by archaeologists, ecologists, and paleoclimatologists at Harvard, Emerson … 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

Bone analysis suggests small T. rexes were not a separate genus; they were kids

Without a doubt, Tyrannosaurus rex is the most famous dinosaur in the world. The 40-foot-long predator with bone crushing teeth inside a five-foot long head are the stuff of legend. Now, a look within the bones of two mid-sized, immature T. rex allow scientists to learn about the tyrant king’s terrible teens as well. In the early … Read more

How fish fins evolved just before the transition to land

The new study by paleontologists from the University of Chicago, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, uses CT scanning to examine the shape and structure of fin rays while still encased in surrounding rock. The imaging tools allowed the researchers to construct digital 3D models of the entire fin of … Read more