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Fossil leads to recognition of birdlike reptiles that preceded early dinosaurs

Certain physical traits previously thought to be unique to dinosaurs evolved much earlier, a new study suggests. Fossil analysis of a newly described species, named Teleocrater rhadinus, places this carnivorous animal in a new spot on the evolutionary tree, directly after the split between birds and crocodilians. Teleocrater marks the first of an entirely new clade […]

A three-spined stickleback in "blackwater" saturated with tannins at Drizzle lake. (Image by Thomas E. Reimchen)

How distantly-related populations of sticklebacks evolved the same solution to their unique environments

Three-spined stickleback fish have inhabited freshwater lakes in the Haida Gwaii archipelago off the coast of British Columbia for thousands of years. A new study that combines genetic analysis with a 19-year-long selection experiment tells the story of how the sticklebacks evolved to adapt their vision to each of their unique lakewater conditions. Some of […]

Climate shaped the evolution of the human nose

It looks like temperature and humidity of a region may have stuck their noses in the evolution of the human smelling organ. Researchers examined the size and shape of noses on people of West African, South Asian, East Asian, and Northern European descent. They say the discovered differences are too great to have occurred on chance […]

X-ray tomographic picture (false colors) of fossil thread-like red algae. (Image by Stefan Bengtson)

1.6 billion-year-old red algae found in fossils

World’s oldest plant-like fossils, which the scientists believe are ancient red algae, were discovered in sedimentary rocks at Chitrakoot in central India. It’s difficult to ascertain that the fossils are, in fact, red algae, since there is no DNA material present, but researchers say the structure of the cells are consistent with this ancient plant […]

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When did bison arrive in North America?

The bison’s arrival in North America from Asia was an ecologically significant event, but its timeline remained a mystery—until now. The mystery started to unravel when researchers found a bison fossil dating about 130,000 years old in northern Yukon—the oldest known fossil of the large mammal in North America. They compared the genomes of the […]

Plaque deposit is visible on the rear molar (right) of this Neandertal. (Image by Paleoanthropology Group MNCN-CSIC)

Details of a Neanderthal’s diet revealed through ancient plaque

Good thing our Neanderthal cousins didn’t have a good brushing regimen, because what’s left of their dental plaque allows us to know more about their diets, habits, and diseases. New research sequenced DNA from the plaque of five Neanderthal specimens. The findings revealed that Neanderthal diets varied greatly from region to region: for example, the individual from […]

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Extinct shelled fossil finds its true niche

Hyoliths, extinct sea creatures from the Cambrian period known for their cone-shaped shell and unusual appendages, have long been mistaken for a type of mollusc. However, a recent discovery by a U of T undergraduate student revealed that hyoliths belong to a group called lophophorates. The main trait that defines living lophophorates, such as brachiopods […]

This is a photo of a hatchling Protoceratops andrewsi fossil from the Gobi Desert Ukhaa Tolgod, Mongolia. (Image by AMNH/M. Ellison)

Dinosaur eggs resemble those of reptiles more than birds

Birds are the closest living relatives of dinosaurs, which is why it was long assumed that dinosaur eggs developed similarly to avian embryos. But new research found that the incubation period for dinosaur embryos was approximately 3 to 6 months, which is closer to the development of reptile eggs. Researchers came to this conclusion after […]

Unique Arctic Inuit adaptations to cold temperatures a gift from ancestors

Previous research has identified potential genes that help the Greenland Inuit generate heat from a specific type of body fat. A new study analyzed a large sample of genetic data to trace origins of these adaptations. The genomic data used in the study was collected from nearly 200 Greenlandic Inuits and compared to the 1000 […]

The left bird, Dark batis (Batis crypta) has smaller round wings. The bird on the right, Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus), has long pointy wings evolved for long-distance flying. (Drawing by  Jon Fjeldså)

Shape of bird wings determines their habitat

Flying might give birds more mobility and freedom than some animals on the ground, but a new study shows the extent of that freedom is determined by the bird’s wing shape. Long pointy wings allow their owners to travel longer distances, while shorter, rounder wings restrict the birds’ habitat to a smaller area. Additionally, the […]

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