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Traces in rock may be the oldest evidence of life on Earth ever

Posted on 1 Mar 2017 in Earth Science, Evolution, Featured, Journalism

Are we closing in on life’s cradle? What is claimed to be the oldest evidence of life on Earth yet found backs the idea that the first microbes originated around hydrothermal vents on the seafloor – but the work is already proving controversial. Image: Matthew Dodd

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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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Europe was once home to giant tortoises almost 2m long

Posted on 2 Feb 2017 in Journalism, Palaeontology

About two million years ago, not long before humans first arrived in south-east Europe, a giant was disappearing from the west of the continent. Titanochelon, Europe’s last giant tortoise, was on its way to extinction. Image: Adán Pérez-García

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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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