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Did early humans, or even animals, invent music?

Posted on 26 Sep 2014 in Animal Behaviour, Evolution, Featured, Human Origins, Journalism

Conventional wisdom has it that music is a relatively modern human invention, one that is a luxury rather than a basic necessity. But dig a little deeper and the story becomes more interesting. Image: onkel_wart (thomas lieser)

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Did dinosaurs exist as dwarfs?

Posted on 25 Sep 2014 in Dinosaurs, Evolution, Journalism, Palaeontology

Imagine a dinosaur; a sauropod such as a Brachiosaurus, or Diplodocus, one of the largest animals ever to roam the land. A plant-gobbling true giant of a beast, with a graceful long neck and tail. Now imagine that same dinosaur shrunk down to the size of a cow. Image: jsj1771

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The Twisted World of Sexual Organs

Posted on 16 Sep 2014 in Evolution, Featured, Journalism

Welcome to the wonderfully twisted realm of sexual organs. A world so full of carnal conflicts of interest and deception that only now are biologists getting to grips with all of its ins and outs, including an understanding of why human sex may be about pleasure rather than pain. Image: Nico Michiels

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The go-between: Life’s unexpected messenger

Posted on 15 Sep 2014 in Environment, Featured, Health, Journalism, Life

We’ve only just begun studying wandering RNA but it’s already clear that it will be incredibly useful. Not only can these RNAs be used as pesticides, they can also protect simple animals like honeybees from viruses. The big question, of course, is whether we too can be influenced by foreign RNAs. Image: net_efekt

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Shattering DNA may have let gibbons evolve new species

Posted on 10 Sep 2014 in Evolution, Featured, Journalism

Gibbons have such strange, scrambled DNA, it looks like someone has taken a hammer to it. Their genome has been massively reshuffled, and some biologists say that could be how new gibbon species evolved. Image: rogersmithpix

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Mammals’ reptile ancestors may have hunted at night

Posted on 3 Sep 2014 in Evolution, Featured, Journalism, Life, Palaeontology

Talk about vibrant nightlife. We thought the threat of predatory dinosaurs forced early mammals to become nocturnal. But it looks like their ancestors were night owls long before that. Image: England

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