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We’ve drawn iconic sail-wearing Dimetrodon wrong for 100 years

Posted on 13 Oct 2017 in Earth Science, Featured, Journalism, Palaeontology

Dimetrodon, one of the most recognisable of the pre-dinosaur predators, is due a makeover. For more than a century, it has been depicted as a sluggish, belly-dragging beast with sprawling legs – but it might actually have held its legs in a more upright position and kept its stomach off the ground as it walked. Image: puuikibeach

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Ancient ‘sea woodlice’ had surprisingly complicated guts

Posted on 28 Sep 2017 in Earth Science, Journalism, Palaeontology

A rare glimpse inside a 510-million-year-old digestive system suggests feeding was a complicated business for the first arthropods. Even this early in animal evolution, some animals had a variety of structures in their gut for storing and processing food. Image: James St. John

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The fossil finder extraordinaire who’s rewriting human evolution

Posted on 27 Sep 2017 in Human Origins, Journalism, Uncategorized

Lee Berger is the palaeoanthropologist behind the recent discoveries of not one but two new species of human ancestor. The finds were so remarkable that, by some accounts, they are rewriting the story of human evolution, and Berger, his team and his methods are at the centre of it. Image: pijpers662

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Bare bones: Five human ancestors known only from a few fossils

Posted on 27 Sep 2017 in Human Origins, Journalism

Some of our ancestors are known only by the merest fossils – a toe bone here, a jaw fragment there. In those cases, it’s all we have to build the story of human evolution. But with spectacular recent finds such as Australopithecus sediba and Homo naledi, that story is starting to be rewritten in ways we never imagined. Image: James St. John

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It takes 30 seconds for your fingerprint to grip your smartphone

Posted on 25 Sep 2017 in Journalism, Physics

Your fingers take time to engage in full contact with a touchscreen. In some cases, even 30 seconds or more after placing a dry finger on the glass, your skin is still adjusting. This can lead to problems using fingerprints to access phones and getting screens to respond to your touch. Image: chadmiller

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Ultrafast lasers catch electrons relaxing after brief excitement

Posted on 15 Sep 2017 in Journalism, Physics

No one can match these electrons when it comes to relaxing. Within a few hundred attoseconds – billionths of a billionth of a second – of being hit by an X-ray pulse, they are already back where they were, sitting calmly in a low-energy state. Image: Attoelectronics Group, MPQ

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