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The mass extinction that might never have happened

Posted on 19 Oct 2017 in Earth Science, Featured, Journalism

Should the “big five” really be the “big four”? For decades, we have recognised five devastating mass extinctions that punctuate the last half-billion years of evolution. But now two geologists are controversially arguing that the end-Triassic extinction has no place on that list. Image: Sparkle Motion

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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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Tiny worm burrows may reveal when first complex animals evolved

Posted on 11 Sep 2017 in Animal Behaviour, Earth Science, Evolution, Journalism

A set of tiny burrows could resolve a big puzzle: how complex animals evolved and spread around the world without revealing their presence. Image: Luke Parry/Russell Garwood

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Weird fish fossil changes the story of how we moved onto land

Posted on 4 Sep 2017 in Earth Science, Evolution, Journalism

The evolutionary story we have written to explain our ancestors’ move from sea to land may need a rethink. A fossil fish from this era has been discovered with several of the features of land animals – yet it was only distantly related to them. Image: Brian Choo

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Strange mantle plume under Iceland helps keep Scotland afloat

Posted on 3 May 2017 in Earth Science, Journalism

The plume of hot rock that sits beneath Iceland has long-reaching fingers – two of which stretch all the way to Scotland and Norway. This perhaps explains why the breathtaking scenery of areas such as the Scottish Highlands isn’t submerged beneath the waves. Image: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

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