A warm little pond on present day Earth on the Bumpass Hell trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park in California.
(Image by Ben K.D. Pearce, McMaster University)

Vital chemicals deposited into small ponds by meteorites deemed responsible for life on Earth

Scientists found new evidence to support the “warm little ponds” theory of the beginnings of life on Earth, which puts the ponds as a top candidate for the initial favorable conditions for the appearance of living organisms. The new paper places the emergence of life into the process of Earth’s formation, while the planet was still being pelted […]

Birds with big brains are more likely to explore new habitats

Scientists have long questioned whether there is any correlation between brain size and cognitive ability in various animal species. One theory often explored in this field is the cognitive buffer hypothesis, which explains bigger brain size by the adaptive benefits to respond quickly to sudden, rapid changes in the environment. A new study tests out […]

Recipe for a comeback: predictive characteristics for replenishing depleted marine fish species

What does it take for a depleted fish species to make a comeback? A group of researchers reviewed abundance trends for over 50 populations of marine fish in attempts to determine what, if any, characteristics are common among species that have successfully recovered after overfishing. Their results suggest that recovery is related to a combination […]

This is an Allosaurus fragilis skeleton mounted in the lobby of the San Diego Natural History Museum. (Image via Wikipedia Creative Commons)

Scientists solved the mystery of the mass Allosaurus grave

The Cleveland-Lloyd dinosaur bone bed has been a puzzle for paleontologists for many years. It’s home to the densest collection of Jurassic era dinosaur fossils, which includes numerous Allosaurus fossils. Since the bone bed’s discovery in the 1920s, numerous hypotheses have been proposed to explain its origin—including theories of a mass poisoning event, drought, or even dinosaurs […]

Waterfowl beaks vary along a duck-to-goose gradient (left to right), primarily because of differences in diet.
(Image by Aaron Olsen)

Duck, duck, goose: How evolution shaped waterfowl beaks

A new study provides the most comprehensive look at the evolution of beaks in waterfowl to date. Following Charles Darwin’s famous finch study, present research suggests that diet shaped the beaks of geese and ducks. Study author studied 3D form of the beaks of 136 specimens of waterfowl, covering 51 species and 46 genera, including […]

groundwater distribution

Hominin evolution linked to groundwater distribution

Video courtesy of Bournemouth University Dispersal patterns of early human ancestors in East Africa relied heavily on the distribution of groundwater, new research suggests. Previously, the hominin movements were thought to have relied solely on climate shifts; however, it was unknown what sustained their survival in extremely dry weather when fresh water was scarce. Researchers […]

New toothed fossil the missing link between ancient and modern baleen whales

Scientists finally found the missing evolutionary link between the modern whales’ toothed ancestors, the basilosaurids, and the filter-feeding mysticetes, which include the blue whale, the humpback whale, and the right whale. A recent paper describes a 36.4-million-year-old whale fossil with teeth and small vestigial hind limbs, which also help connect it to the whales’ ancient land-dwelling […]

Western spotted skunk is shown doing its characteristic hand-stand when spraying. (Image by Jerry W. Dragoo)

Ice Age climate change more important than geological barriers in spotted skunk evolution

The evolution of Western spotted skunks—tiny, maze-patterned carnivores with a unique hand-stand spraying technique—was influenced by climate change, not geological barriers, new research suggests. Spotted skunks can be found throughout western United States and Mexico, living in a variety of climates. Studying the evolution of skunks may seem arbitrary, but in fact, these small carnivores provide […]

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Newly discovered feathered dinosaur sheds light on the evolution of flight

A newly discovered troodontid species is the earliest example of a bird-like dinosaur with asymmetric feathers—a physical trait associated with the evolution of flight. The new species, named Jianianhualong tengi, was described from a nearly complete skeleton with preserved feathers. The fossil dates from the Early Cretaceous period— approximately 100-145 million years ago—and was found in north-eastern […]

This photograph shows a toy xoloitzcuintlel, a dog breed that likely descended from dogs that crossed the Bering Land Bridge with Native Americans Ancestors.
CREDIT
Penny Inan

The most comprehensive evolutionary map of dog breeds

Researchers have assembled the most comprehensive map of dog breeds to date, using genetic sequences from 161 modern breeds. The largest evolutionary tree also reveals new information about the original purposes for breeding certain types of dogs; tells the story of the dogs that accompanied humans across the Bering land bridge; and the map could […]

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