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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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Breath of life: Did animals evolve without oxygen?

Posted on 18 Jan 2017 in Earth Science, Evolution, Journalism

At the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Greece, there is a lake. Complete with a delicate shoreline and an inviting deep blue surface, the L’Atalante basin looks almost like a lake on land. But this is an inhospitable place. Image: crimsonwoods_flickr

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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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The real reason why childbirth is so painful and so dangerous

Posted on 22 Dec 2016 in Evolution, Health, Human Origins, Journalism

Giving birth can be a long and painful process. It can also be deadly. The World Health Organization estimates that about 830 women die every day because of complications during pregnancy and childbirth – and that statistic is actually a 44% reduction on the 1990 level. Image: Chriggy

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How some animals accelerate faster than all others

Posted on 19 Sep 2016 in Animal Behaviour, Evolution, Featured, Journalism

The smashing mantis shrimp predatory attacks are so fast, and so brief, that their exact speed went unappreciated by scientists until about 15 years ago. And what does the mantis shrimp do with its astonishingly quick weapons? It uses them to attack an animal virtually synonymous with sluggishness: a snail. Image: Christian Gloor (mostly) underwater photographer

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Snub-nosed monkeys are so inbred they may struggle to survive

Posted on 16 Sep 2016 in Evolution, Journalism

With a global population below 250, things have been looking bleak for the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey. But the creatures might be in even more trouble than we thought. One section of mitochondrial DNA seems to be identical in all members of the largest known population – a sign of inbreeding that can leave a species vulnerable to extinction. Image: dangnguyenxuan

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