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Oldest broken bone reveals our ancestors’ switch to life on land

Posted on 20 May 2015 in Animal Behaviour, Earth Science, Evolution, Featured, Journalism, Palaeontology

It was one small fall for a tetrapod, but it signals one giant leap for tetrapod kind. A broken leg bone pushes back the emergence of our four-legged ancestors from water on to land by at least 2 million years. Image: 2015 Bishop et al.

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Antarctica’s Blood Falls are a sign of life below ground

Posted on 29 Apr 2015 in Earth Science, Featured, Journalism

We already know that there is liquid water – and life – in some of the lakes beneath Antarctica’s ice. Blood Falls is a sign of something else: that the ground, too, holds liquid water, and that it may have extensive microbial activity. Image: DLR_de

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Baboon bone found in famous Lucy skeleton

Posted on 10 Apr 2015 in Featured, Human Origins, Journalism

Lucy, arguably the world’s most famous early human fossil, is not quite all she seems. A careful look at the ancient hominin’s skeleton suggests one bone may actually belong to a baboon. Image: Le Grand Portage

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How to Save the Chocolate Tree Without Sacrificing Flavour

Posted on 12 Feb 2015 in Featured, Journalism

Demand, disease and climate change are threatening cocoa, but new more productive and hardy clones often lack flavour – the fight is on to save chocolate from becoming as bland as the supermarket tomato. Image: edhi

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The secret of the world’s largest seed revealed

Posted on 6 Feb 2015 in Evolution, Featured, Journalism

The coco de mer palm of the Seychelles is the stuff of legend. Its seeds – the largest and heaviest in the world – were once believed to grow on trees beneath the waves of the Indian Ocean, and to hold great healing powers. How does a plant that grows in poor quality soil on just two islands produce record-breaking seeds that reach half a metre in diameter and can weigh in at around 25 kilograms? Image: Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury

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If birds in a truck fly, does the truck get lighter?

Posted on 15 Jan 2015 in Featured, Journalism, Physics

It’s an urban myth that had US TV show Mythbusters weighing a truck full of pigeons on a scale and getting them to fly. Now it seems there’s some truth to the idea that a truck driver carrying a cargo of birds can lighten the load by making the birds fly. Image: Lentink

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