Carleton researcher discovers earliest fossil evidence of parental behaviour

A team led by Carleton University’s Hillary Maddin has discovered the earliest fossil evidence of parental care. The fossil predates the previous oldest record of this behavior by 40 million years and is featured in an article in Nature Ecology & Evolution. “This is the earliest evidence of prolonged postnatal care in a vertebrate,” said … Read more Carleton researcher discovers earliest fossil evidence of parental behaviour

Fossil research unveils new turtle species and hints at intercontinental migrations

The Arlington Archosaur Site (AAS) of Texas preserves remnants of an ancient Late Cretaceous river delta that once existed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Known for discoveries of fossil crocodiles and dinosaurs, a multi-institution research team has described four extinct turtle species, including a new river turtle named after AAS paleontologist Dr. Derek Main and … Read more Fossil research unveils new turtle species and hints at intercontinental migrations

Connecting the prehistoric past to the global future

Research on global biodiversity has long assumed that present-day biodiversity patterns reflect present-day factors, namely contemporary climate and human activities. A new study shows that climate changes and human impacts over the last 100,000 years continue to shape patterns of tropical and subtropical mammal biodiversity today – a surprising finding. The new research – coauthored … Read more Connecting the prehistoric past to the global future

Fossil shells reveal both global mercury contamination and warming when dinosaurs perished

The impact of an asteroid or comet is acknowledged as the principal cause of the mass extinction that killed off most dinosaurs and about three-quarters of the planet’s plant and animal species 66 million years ago. But massive volcanic eruptions in India may also have contributed to the extinctions. Scientists have long debated the significance … Read more Fossil shells reveal both global mercury contamination and warming when dinosaurs perished

A new early whale, Aegicetus gehennae, and the evolution of modern whale locomotion

A newly discovered fossil whale represents a new species and an important step in the evolution of whale locomotion, according to a study published December 11, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Philip Gingerich of the University of Michigan and colleagues. The fossil record of whale evolution tracks the transition from land-dwelling ancestors to ocean-dwelling … Read more A new early whale, Aegicetus gehennae, and the evolution of modern whale locomotion

When penguins ruled after dinosaurs died

What waddled on land but swam supremely in subtropical seas more than 60 million years ago, after the dinosaurs were wiped out on sea and land? Fossil records show giant human-sized penguins flew through Southern Hemisphere waters – along side smaller forms, similar in size to some species that live in Antarctica today. Now the … Read more When penguins ruled after dinosaurs died

Four-hundred-eighty-million-year-old fossils reveal sea lilies’ ancient roots

Sea lilies, despite their name, aren’t plants. They’re animals related to starfish and sea urchins, with long feathery arms resting atop a stalk that keeps them anchored to the ocean floor. Sea lilies have been around for at least 480 million years – they first evolved hundreds of millions of years before the dinosaurs. For … Read more Four-hundred-eighty-million-year-old fossils reveal sea lilies’ ancient roots

New early Cretaceous mammal fossils bridge a transitional gap in ear’s evolution

Fossils of a previously unknown species of Early Cretaceous mammal have caught in the act the final steps by which mammals’ multi-boned middle ears evolved, according to a new study. The new species the study unearths – based on fossil specimens collected in China’s Yixian Formation – provides a reference in the evolutionary tree of … Read more New early Cretaceous mammal fossils bridge a transitional gap in ear’s evolution

Dull teeth, long skulls, specialized bites evolved in unrelated plant-eating dinosaurs

Herbivorous dinosaurs evolved many times during the 180 million-year Mesozoic era, and while they didn’t all evolve to chew, swallow, and digest their food in the same way, a few specific strategies appeared time and time again. An investigation of the skulls of 160 non-avian dinosaurs revealed the evolution of common traits in the skulls … Read more Dull teeth, long skulls, specialized bites evolved in unrelated plant-eating dinosaurs

Untangling the branches in the mammal tree of life

The mammal tree of life is a real leaner. Some branches are weighed down with thousands of species – we’re looking at you, rodents and bats – while others hold just a few species. Now we may have a better idea why. In a new study published in the journal PLOS Biology, researchers at Yale University … Read more Untangling the branches in the mammal tree of life