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Skulls reveal that ancient Americans didn’t mix with neighbours

Posted on 22 Feb 2017 in Archaeology, Journalism

It’s a real head-scratcher. The shapes of human skulls from a narrow strip in Mexico reveal that first arrivals to the Americas may have kept to themselves, even when there were no geographical barriers that would have prevented them mixing. Image: Andre Strauss

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Being friendly puts monkeys at risk in times of revolution

Posted on 5 Feb 2017 in Animal Behaviour, Journalism

Being too friendly can be costly. When a new alpha male takes over, female capuchin monkeys are more likely to lose their offspring to infanticide if they have an extensive network of social contacts than if they don’t. Image: inottawa

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Plant keeps moths captive inside its fruits for almost a year

Posted on 1 Feb 2017 in Journalism, Life

Visit a forest in south-east China, say, in mid-March and you might catch one of the more unusual sights in the natural world. The ripe fruit of one species of tree burst open at that time each year – and fully developed moths fly out. Image: Dick Culbert

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Complex life may have had a false start 2.3 billion years ago

Posted on 16 Jan 2017 in Earth Science, Featured, Journalism

It was a sign of things to come. About 2.3 billion years ago, our primitive planet was an oxygen-poor world profoundly different from now – but then it briefly and mysteriously gained an oxygen-rich atmosphere. This so-called Lomagundi Event could have provided a fleeting opportunity for complex, animal-like creatures to evolve billions of years before the ancestors of all animals we know today appeared. Image: maxelman

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Despite what you might think, chickens are not stupid

Posted on 11 Jan 2017 in Animal Behaviour, Journalism

It is also common for people to view chickens as unintelligent animals that lack the complex psychological characteristics of “higher” animals like monkeys and apes. This is a view reinforced by some depictions of chickens in popular culture. But chickens are anything but dumb. Image: Hopkinsii

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Baboons recorded making key sounds found in human speech

Posted on 11 Jan 2017 in Animal Behaviour, Evolution, Featured, Journalism

Baboon grunts and barks have more in common with human speech than we thought. The monkeys routinely produce five of the distinct vowel sounds found in our languages. Image: Derek Keats

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